Review : Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
From the back of the book :
But when the online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101). And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.
Before the study, I was Alice Buckle: wife and mother, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions. But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I’ll have to make a decision—one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I’m too busy answering questions.
As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.
My Thoughts :
It was early in the year when I read Melanie Gideon’s Wife 22. I went in expecting a chicklit with more depth, and that’s pretty much what I got; while the premise sounds like a fun, almost romcom setting, the realities it unveiled were much more true to life.
With a lot of honesty and heart, Wife 22 immediately pulled me in. Alice’s discontent with her life is quite obvious, and the author makes sure we feel for her without feeling sorry for her, if that makes sense. Her life is far from what she had dreamed, but it isn’t completely wrong either. Like it happens at some point in life, let just say that the day to day life lost a bit of its sparkle for her. So when the study interrupts her routine, it’s easy to see the appeal it has for Alice.
The book’s format was very interesting, in that in between regular chapters, we were privy to Alice’s answers to the study – but only her answers! I discovered very late in the game that a numbered list of the questions was available at the end of the book, but to be honest not being aware of the questions did not hinder my enjoyment of the story at all. As a reader, it gave me a chance to work out what the questions were of what Alice meant with her answers.
The story has a few clichés and predictable twists along the way, but overall I really enjoyed it. I always like when authors play with formats and include things like chats, google searches and the like, so I immediately appreciated this aspect of Wife 22. Alice was very human and easy to relate to I would think, whether you’ve been in her place or not.
However, where I lost my enjoyment of the book a little was in the finale. This next paragraph will be spoilery so skip it if you wish to keep the surprise for yourself!
But… I did not enjoy the big reveal at all. I saw it coming, I did, but I still didn’t like it. I felt that Alice had a thousand reasons to be angry at her husband. It felt a lot like lies and deception to me, and while I got the point of it, I did not agree with it. You want to reach your wife and reconnect and rekindle your relationship? How about not playing games and connecting with her face to face? I know this is fiction, I do, and a great thing it is because if anyone went to such lengths in real life, I’m pretty sure they’d be labeled with a crazy stamp. Yikes!
Despite the conclusion, I really did enjoy Wife 22. Gideon’s writing is heartfelt and easy to connect to, and her characters were beautifully human and flawed and strong at the same time. She breaks the shine of life without making it feel hopeless or completely stereotypical, and I liked that. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the book to other readers of women’s fiction, and in fact I think Alice and her husband’s actions would do wonderful topics for discussion.