The Wives Between Us

After finishing up The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain I slowly made my way out of A Parisian Categorie by reading about Julia Child. An extraordinary woman who has now wormed her book (My Life in France) into three different categories. A 1950's version of a career wife (The Wives Between Us) who lived in Paris (A Parisian Categorie) and a fabulous chef (Back of the House). She is a personal hero of mine.

Ironically, this category got its start because I wanted to read more about the English Queen- Elizabeth I who never married and was nicknamed "The Virgin Queen".  I decided to read the biography written by Alison Weir but if you want to read about Elizabeth's entire life you have to start with her book "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" as she is the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn, continue on with "The Children of Henry VIII" before reading the biography of Elizabeth I which details her life as Queen. Quite the marketing scheme but since I love historical Royal Reading and the Tudors I was more than game. 

My original "clever" intention was to read six books in honor of Henry's six wives but I ended up reading eight--what can I say there are a lot of wive themed books out there, unfortunately most of them seem themed around domestic abuse. I don't know what it says about humans (and I am certainly no exception) but we sure do love the theme of violence in our entertainments. Real and imagined--Sorry Henry but you were not particularly wife friendly.

Mr. Emerson's Wife by Amy Belding Brown

A fictionalized biography of Lidian Jackson Emerson-the wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson. I admit I chose this book more for the charm of its cleverly transitional title than I did for the subject matter. But I also thought it would interesting to read about the wife of such an iconic American writer. It left me a little dismayed. I had to fact check.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This is one book with a ton of twists, in my opinion maybe even a couple too many, but nevertheless you are very reluctant to put it down until you are done. I successfully avoided most of my family during Thanksgiving because my nose was pretty much always stuck in this book. Read between the lies, might have been a better title--you can't trust anyone or anything in this book. I will definitely read their next book, if only to see if they did manage to leave any plot twists behind for the future use. 

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

The author obviously used both public records and personal letters from the early 1500's to pen her comprehensive factual version of the tumultuous lives of Henry VIII and the six women he took as wives. I like Ms. Weir, her books are very readable and I certainly learned a lot, but sometimes it seems just a collection of lists and historical records. I did some fact checking and it turns out that other Tudor scholars seem dubious about her work. No doubt, way more accurate than HBO's version: The Tudors. I will have to read deeper--darn the luck. 

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This book had been on my shelf for a long time. It is about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, a lot of people are fans of Hemingway--I am not one of them--neither as a man or as an author. As I started reading I kept having the feeling that I had read this before, but as it is a good read, in spite of the Hemingway element I read it again, maybe? Hadley and Ernest had a whirlwind romance and marriage, they left the States and set sail for Paris, where they become a part of the "Lost Generation". He cheats, they divorce, they both remarry...but the love remained. This is a very good well written book. 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Hands down one of my all time favorite books and a refreshing relief from the proceeding non-stop tales of domestic violence. It is a book I keep on my My Shelf, this is the second time I have read it and I think I liked it even more than the first time. It is the romantic, and sad, and beautiful love story of time-traveling Henry, who has  "chronological displacement disorder" which means his travels both forward and back in time are random and out of his control. It is also the story of Clare the woman who becomes his wife. I look forward to reading this again and again.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

I came close to not buying this book even though it got a lot of praise, press, and acclaim when it was first published--I am just not a fan of mystical "fever dream" writing. The book was okay. In my opinion, there were too many different storylines, picking one or even two would have made for a better book. Furthermore--even this book kept my theory alive that it is the preference of authors who put the word "wife" in the title of their books to weave in a storyline of domestic abuse.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This book is set in rural Wisconsin in 1909 and the story revolves around a successful business man who places an advertisement in the paper for a reliable wife, the woman who answers the ad and becomes his wife is anything but...this is a complex dark tale with truly repulsive characters-across the board--I read it, it is well written-- but I was REALLY glad when I was done. A very violent book. Weirdly enough this makes at least the third book that I have read that makes reference to a book called The Wisconsin Death Trap--so I guess I am going to have to source this book out some future day. Perhaps if I ever do a category for the 50 states.

The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher

I couldn't resist adding a second silent wife to the category, this one is set in England, and involves two Italian brothers, their controlling mother, their wives (past and present), and their children. This seemingly perfect family falls apart in a web of dark secrets, domestic violence, infidelity, and lies when Maggie (Nico's second wife) finds a hidden letter in the attic. The story is told in the alternating voices of Maggie and Lara (Massimo's second wife) and features some satisfying twists and turns, although these silent wives are definitely not as dark and twisted as Ms. Harrison's version of a silent wife.

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

A dark twisty book about an unmarried wife and her "husband" of twenty some years, set in Chicago, this novel obviously gets compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, it is even getting made into a movie as they were as well. You know from the beginning "who did it" and it is told in alternating voices between score-settling wife and cheating husband. It is a very psychological read, none of the characters are particularly sympathetic or likable but I definitely enjoyed the book and the writing skills of this author. I will go see the movie. 

How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

A so-so book, not very memorable, but it did have an interesting twist, a lot people complain that the ending is unsatisfying but I don't even remember how it ended, but I don't remember being disappointed either. It is a little slow in places and of course it has its domestic violence elements. 

Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.