The Wife's Tale
by Lori Lansens
I liked Lori Lansens' last novel enough that I wanted to read this one right away. I liked this one too, though not quite as much. With its endearing conjoined heroines, The Girls was such an original story. The Wife's Tale, on the other hand, is very familiar--almost an archetypal ugly duckling tale. Yes, it's a story we've all read before, an oldie but a goodie. And here it is in a nutshell:
On the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary, Jimmy Gooch leaves his morbidly obese, middle-aged wife, Mary. She goes in search of him, and winds up finding herself. There's more to it than that, of course, but you can make those discoveries on your own.
What I will say is this--coming into this novel, knowing the above premise, my first thought was, "the husband's a monster!" But Lansens writing is more subtle than that. The husband is not a monster, and Mary Gooch has a lot of issues. While the story is familiar, Lansens is not regurgitating the same old black and white story. There's a little more nuance going on here, and some readers may not appreciate that not all the loose ends get tied up by the end. I, however, don't believe every novel has to end tied neatly with a red bow. This wife's journey is a tale worth reading.
NOTE: I received a free review copy of this novel from Amazon.com.