Summary: On the eve of their Silver Anniversary, Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband Jimmy--still every inch the handsome star athlete he was in high school--to come home. As night turns to day, it becomes frighteningly clear to Mary that he is gone. Through the years, disappointment and worry have brought Mary's life to a standstill, and she has let her universe shrink to the well-worn path from the bedroom to the refrigerator. But her husband's disappearance startles her out of her inertia, and she begins a desperate search.
For the first time in her life, she boards a plane and flies across the country to find her lost husband. So used to hiding from the world, Mary finds that in the bright sun and broad vistas of California, she is forced to look up from the pavement. And what she finds fills her with inner strength she's never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself. -- Little, Brown & Company
I have been a fan of Lori Lansens' ever since I read THE GIRLS for my book club a few years back. We were fortunate enough to have Ms. Lansens' join us by speakerphone for our meeting, and I think I even enjoyed the book more after hearing her insight. So, when I found out that Ms. Lansens' wrote a new book called THE WIFE'S TALE, I could hardly wait to read it.
Despite having pretty high expectations, THE WIFE'S TALE did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I quickly became caught up in Mary's life. Ms. Lansens' did an amazing job of creating Mary and bringing her to life, and I loved how complex she made Mary. On one hand, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Mary. She was really a pitiful woman who was severely overweight, and her weight had serious implication on her life. She didn't even want to vacation because she couldn't find appropriate clothes. But on the other hand, I had a hard time understanding how Mary let herself get into this situation. I think her husband was a pretty good man who just wanted Mary to be happy with herself. Mary's issues and her lack of love and respect for herself ended up driving her husband away. It was all so tragic.
When Mary wakes up on her 25th wedding anniversary to discover that her husband left her, she finally is forced to examine herself and her life. After sleeping for days, she awakens to decide that she is going to track down her husband and bring him back home. It was almost as if she was re-birthed in some way after this long slumber. This decision to find her husband causes Mary to leave the comfort and familiarity of her life and head off on a life-changing journey (both physically and metaphorically.)
I absolutely fell in love with Mary once she leaves her small-town in Canada and heads off to America. She basically has her purse, some money and the clothes on her back when she ventures off to find Gooch. Throughout this journey, Mary begins to see herself differently -- food is no longer her crutch; and she slowly begins to discovery her inner beauty. In addition, she finds that there are so many kind and generous people out there willing to lend her a hand when she is in need. She no longer has to turn to food for comfort, rather she can turn to the generosity of others.
THE WIFE'S TALE is absolutely perfect for book clubs who love literary and women's fiction! I am pretty sure that the novel would be a hit in my book club -- I know that I wanted to discuss this book with someone right after I finished it. And even if everyone didn't agree on the book's merits, I still know it would make for a wonderful discussion book. There is a reading guide available with some very thought-provoking questions. I especially appreciate all the themes that are pertinent to women in this novel including the definition of beauty, marriage, addiction, self-esteem, guilt, fear, being true to one's self, and secrets.
Needless to say, THE WIFE'S TALE is a very touching story about a woman who rediscovers herself. In so many ways, it was really Mary's coming-of-age story; and it goes to show that it's never too late to change. In addition to Ms. Lansens' wonderful prose, there are also so many themes which will cause you to take pause and think about your own life. THE WIFE'S TALE is truly a treat to read!
Note: One thing that made me feel like an "insider" was that Mary lived in the same small town that THE GIRLS took place. Throughout the book, there were a few references to characters in THE GIRLS -- I love it when an author does that!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this novel.