Melanie Gideon: Wife 22 (2012)


Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because my husband and I were running out of things to say to each other. 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.

Sometimes you read a book but are not in the mood to write a proper review. Either because it didn’t live up to your expectations or because you waited too long and can’t do it anymore as it’s getting blurred. Still you’d like to write about it as it might be just the thing for someone else. Wife 22 is one of those books.

I’m not going to summarize the novel, the blurb will tell you enough of the story.

My final thoughts

I bought Wife 22 on a whim after having read the first few pages on amazon and thought it was really funny. I’ve never read a novel in which the way many people live these days was portrayed like this. The main characters constantly check their Facebook accounts, use google to look up everything, which is on their mind, their ailments, their hobbies. We learn a lot about the main character from seeing her google “hooded eyes”, “marital crisis”, and similar topics and in reading the answers to the questionnaire. Quite an original approach.

I quite enjoyed the first 150 pages. It reads like a mix between Love Virtually and the diary of an older Bridget Jones. The main character is endearing but the end underwhelmed me big time. If you are just looking for an entertaining, witty and very topical look at married life, this may just be your thing and possibly you’ll like the ending. (Let’s put it like that – I was waiting for something a bit wilder.) Personally I think it’s one of those books you can read but don’t have too, still, the right reader will love it.

A tip –  should you want to read it – the questions of the fictional questionnaire are at the back of the book. Many readers didn’t notice that. It’s fun to just read the answers and wonder what the question was but occasionally it reads like a riddle.

Melanie Gideon is the author of the memoir The Slippery Year: How One Woman Found Happiness in Everyday Life in which she writes about many of the topics raised in Wife 22 focussing on her own life.

Have you read Wife 22 or Melanie Gideon’s memoir?