If You Like….
October 21st, 2013

Today’s list is from Rosemary— who recently became engaged! So, while lifting a glass of virtual champagne to toast the impending nuptials, here’s Rosemary’s “If You Like” list, about Interesting Wives:

If You Like Books About Interesting Wives…

Having recently become affianced, I simply can’t stop myself from grabbing books with “wife” in the title. Not that this would have stopped me before the engagement, as I’ve always been fascinated with stories about women who try to build lives around dynamic husbands but also establish themselves as strong, formidable people — plus a little romance doesn’t hurt. So without further ado, here is my list of “Wife” books.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Five stars for this. A gripping tale, the book follows Henry, a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to travel through time, and Clare, who first encountered Henry mid-time travel when she was a child. After that meeting, the two are constantly thrown together, fall in love, and marry. But it’s not all butterflies and rainbows for the couple, as they must learn to construct a life around Henry’s crazy condition. Niffenegger is an expert storyteller, even though the book jumps from multiple points of view and time periods, it’s not hard to follow and makes you want to read more. It’s a heart-racing tearjerker that I couldn’t put down.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This novel is told through the first person account of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, wife of a one Ernest Hemingway. Opening in vibrant Chicago 1920, it shows the Hemingways’ whirlwind romance that takes them from the U.S. to Paris to Spain — and ultimately its unraveling. Rich with characters like the Fitzgeralds, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, I found it a compelling read that illuminated the Hemingways’ time abroad and the literary geniuses by which they were surrounded. The narrative did drag a little at times; some portions were altogether too Hemingway for me.

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

An utterly excellent, can’t-concentrate-because-I’m-thinking-about-the-characters kind of book. Set in Prague on the brink of WWII, Jewish couple Lenka and Josef fall in love. Thanks to the terror regime of the Nazis, they are separated… and don’t find each other again until they are in their 80s. I’d love to talk more about specific portions, but I’m wary of giving too much away, and can’t stress enough that you all should read this book. The prose is stellar, the characters believable, and premise absolutely wild.

Pilate’s Wife by Antoinette May

A crushing disappointment. As the title suggests, this novel is about the ancient Roman woman Claudia, wife of Pontius Pilate, who sentenced Jesus to be crucified. In Christian tradition, Claudia has a dream and warns Pilate not to go through with it, though (spoiler alert!) he does. Based on that alone, the book could have been soooo good, but in my opinion fell short; the author chose to ignore the Christian side of the story until the end, which is what made Claudia as a historical figure so compelling in the first place. While the writing itself was very good, Claudia and Pilate don’t even make it to Judea until about 3/4 of the way through the book. Most of the novel takes place elsewhere and all the elaborate plot twists have nothing whatsoever to do with the Passion story, which is the whole reason why being PIlate’s wife is so interesting. This novel felt like it could have been about any other random woman living in ancient Rome.

Many thanks to Rosemary for this wonderful (spousal) list! There has been an avalanche of wife books recently. Others that pop immediately to mind are Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife, about Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe, about Virginia Poe; and Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

What are your favorite “wife” books?

And can anyone think of any books about husbands?

To hear more from Rosemary, check out her blog at http://missrosemary.net/.



8 Responses to “If You Like….”

  1. Christine says:

    Congratulations, Rosemary! And fantastic list!

    I read a great book a couple of years ago. Not exactly happy, but it’s about a woman who has amnesia and her husband may be gaslighting her. “Before I Go to Sleep” by S.J. Watson.

  2. Pam says:

    Julia Child’s My Life in France is quite wonderful. It’s easy to forget that before Mastering the Art of French Cooking she was “just” a diplomat’s wife, having previously held several positions in the OSS (where she met Paul, aww), and, looking for a new vocation, learned to cook.

  3. Christina says:

    I really enjoyed The Paris Wife. One book I haven’t read but that is on my TBR list is The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.

  4. Alice says:

    Love “The Anatomists Wife” by Anna Lee Huber. All of The Little House on the Prairie Books. Caroline Ingalls is amazing! The Kick Ksswick series by Marne Davis Kellogg. Hilarious, great food, and as a wife, she kicks some serious booty!

  5. SusanN says:

    I read Lian Dolan’s Elizabeth the First Wife last week and quite enjoyed it. Well, it has “wife” in the title so it kinda fits–even tho it’s about an interesting ex-wife.

  6. Ren says:

    Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund is a favorite interesting wife book of mine. As a bonus it has a woman disguised as a boy plot which is one of my favorite plot devices.

  7. Kristy says:

    Our book club read “The Pilot’s Wife” a few years back. It’s a gripping study of Kathryn, her late husband who died piloting a plane destroyed by a bomb, and the secret life she uncovers as she tries to cope with his death.

  8. To Kill a Mockingbird has never been out of print in hardcover or paperback and has become part of the standard literature curriculum. A 2008 survey of secondary books read by students between grades 9–12 in the U.S. indicates the novel is the most widely read book in these grades.


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