For fans of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It comes an irresistible novel of a woman losing herself... and finding herself again... in the middle of her life.
Maybe it was those extra five pounds I'd gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.
But when the anonymous online study called "Marriage in the 21st Century" showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly 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.
7. Sometimes I tell him he's snoring when he's not snoring so he'll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.
61. Chet Baker on the tape player. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man's children.
67. To not want what you don't have. What you can't have. What you shouldn't have.
32. That if we weren't careful, it was possible to forget one another.
Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor's appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.
But these days, I'm also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous 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.
"Starred Review. Fully formed supporting characters and a nuanced emotional story line make Gideon's fiction debut shimmer." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Peppered with Facebook updates, email messages, and chat logs, this book is a skillful blend of pop-culture references, acidic humor, and emotional moments." - Library Journal
"Glued to her smart phone, she practically ignores her family and her myopic self-centeredness begins to grate. By the end, Alice becomes downright unattractive, undeserving of the happiness that the genre typically grants. Nevertheless, women of a certain age will find her escapades breezy fun, especially since the William character is blatantly intended to bring Colin Firth to mind." - Kirkus Reviews
"Wife 22 is absolutely fresh, vibrant, au courant, and hilarious. As you read, you will swear that this deft novelist hacked your phone and unearthed your longtime marital secrets and maternal struggles with a keen ear and an open heart. Brilliant! Melanie Gideon owns the moment with this debut." - Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife
"Refreshing, original, and crackling with energy, Wife 22 is a brilliant, engrossing novel about the way we love and live now. Prepare to be dazzled." - Elin Hilderbrand, author of Summerland
"Absolutely delicious! What Bridget Jones did for single women, Alice Buckle will do for married ones. Melanie Gideon's Wife 22 is a fabulously funny contemplation of relationships and parenthood in the twenty-first century." - Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells and The Wednesday Sisters
"Well, isn't this a fun read! Not only fun, but funny. Not only funny, but wildly inventive. Not only wildly inventive, but poignant. Wife 22 is also wise in matters of the heart. Melanie Gideon could put marriage counselors out of business." - Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Time I Saw You
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Rated of 5
It was ok
This looked so interesting. How would taking part in a survey on marriage impact your marriage? The characters were sort of likeable. This is a family in transition where things are not always what was expected. Much like most marriages it has had it’s ups and downs. Alice has been so busy as a working mother she has lost touch with her husband. He has become a minor part of her life. Her concerns over her children kind of cast a shadow over everything in her life. Is her son gay? Is her daughter anorexic? Because she is focused on everything else she does not seem to notice her husband is kind of lost himself. When his job situation changes she begins to realize just how far they have drifted. In steps the survey. Randomly picked to take part in a survey on marriage she becomes Wife 22. Her answers give us insight into what brought her and her husband together in the first place and how years of marriage and children can change our views. When the person assigned to Wife 22 starts to step outside of the study the story began to become unbelievable. Overall I felt finishing this book was more a labor than a joy. .
Rated of 5
Jinny K. (Fremont, CA)
Silly and shallow
I was looking forward to reading this book, but I found the characters shallow and unsympathetic and the premise unlikely. That a busy modern mother would take the time and emotional investment to engage in a prolonged online question-and-answer survey about her marriage and yet seem perfunctory in her actual everyday marriage did not endear her to me.
The ending was yet more contrived and incredible. Perhaps this a modern romance novel, but to me it lacked depth and meaning.
Rated of 5
Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)
I needed a novel for a bit of an escape from the stress in my life when Wife 22 arrived. It was just what I needed. Melanie Gideon brings us into Alice Buckle's household where we get to see the lives of a long married couple and their two teenage kids. Alice is a bit bored with her life and decides to engage in a marriage survey that she receives via email. That's when we learn even more about this family and what goes on in a 40-something woman's mind when let to wander. I really enjoyed the story although it might have been a little predictable in parts. Fun and thoughtful read!
Rated of 5
Loves to Read (Burlingame, CA)
This book was defintely a quick read. Enjoyable and witty at times, far-fetched at others. Kept me interested but unfortunately, not dying for more. Great beach read!
Rated of 5
Barbara C. (Lincolnshire, IL)
I thought the author tried to take today's life happening and write a book. It was a easy read but didn't have much substance for me. She tried to hard to make a believable story. It just didn't work for me. When I read a book I want to enjoy reading, and look forward to finishing the story.
Rated of 5
Dawn C. (Meridian, ID)
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Alice Buckle is upon her tipping year, the year her mother died at the age of 45. As Alice is looking online one day she gets invited into a marital research study online. She decides to do it and is assigned her online pen name Wife 22. Through answering the study questions she is reminded of her early dating/parenting/marital times with her husband William. All is not well in the marriage and the online researcher becomes her new best friend, a kind of therapy. I found this book to be very entertaining, and enjoyed being reminded of some of my own early experiences with my husband. I highly recommend this book to any woman who has been married for any length of time.
Melanie Gideon is the bestselling author of The Slippery Year: A Meditation on Happily Ever After, which was named an NPR and San Francisco Chronicle best book of the year. She is also the author of two young adult novels: Pucker and The Map That Breathed, both New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, More, Shape, The Times, the Daily Mail, and Marie Claire. She was born and raised in Rhode Island. She now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. Visit her at www.MelanieGideon.com and on Facebook.
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