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?

34 thoughts on “Melanie Gideon: Wife 22 (2012)

  1. One thing that struck me about your commentary was the mention of important digital interfaces are to the characters. As we read newer books of course these references will become more common. We are so not used to this because it has come on us so quickly.

    • At the moment it is still fairly original and we enjoy reading it but there is a danger that books who treat this will become outdated soon.
      I thought it was funny that she included the google and facebook parts as if we would be reading them, not just mentioning them but luckily there was a lot more.

  2. Your review made me think of Love Virtually right away. Did you think the latter was better? Not sure if I would like this, but I do trust your opinion. I may also need something light after finishing the bio of Zelda Fitzgerald.

    • Not a cheerful biography at all, I imagine.
      I think you’d like parts of this novel. Love Virtually is far better because the end is much better but that is entirely my point of view. It’s a book which got a lot of praise on amazon.
      I’d be interested to discuss it. So, should you read it, don’t forget to come back and tell me if the ending worked for you.

  3. Interesting book, Caroline. When I read your review, I thought that the book looked very similar to ‘Love Virtually’ and then I read your comment comparing them. Sorry to know that the ending wasn’t as interesting as you expected it to be – maybe the author got backed off and provided a more conventional ending. It is interesting that the author discusses many of the issues which are explored in this book in her memoir too.

    • It had interesting elements.
      I think many people will appreciate exactly this ending but for me it didn’t work.
      Reading about her memoir makes me think she turned it into a novel afterwards. They seem very similar.

  4. I like the cover and the blurb. I thought the book sounds fun judging from the blurb but when you said the ending was blah…it turns me off. You know how I love great ending.

    I have a book like this recently, I don’t even review it. I only clicked my goodreads sayong I have read it.

    • I know what you mean. I wasn’t sure whether I should review it but I haven’t seen it mentioned and I’m pretty sure this is the type of book a majority of people wil really like, that’s why I wrote about it.
      Whether or not you like the ending is a matter of perosnal taste, I’d say.

  5. The premise sounds really interesting, but I think I don’t have so much in common with the characters–almost too contemporary they seem. I don’t do FB or need to spend all my time online so I wonder if I would tire of the story. But like you say the right reader will love a story like this. And I know only too well how waiting too long to write about a book tends to make doing so really difficult–or just not quite being able to drum up the enthusiasm or having very much you want to say about it!

    • I thought it was interesting to read about someone spending so much social time online. I have no FB account and most people I know don’t but some do and it’s exactly like in the book. I just find it weird. For example, they check the FB page to see how the other’s day was, although they are living together and could ask later in the day!
      I don’t think you would find it boring as it just here and there.
      Waiting too long when you’re not too enthusiastic is the worst.

  6. “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.”

    This pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling lately after taking a break from blogging and coming back. There are so many books that I’ve read during my hiatus, and I’d like to share them, but it’s hard when they are no longer fresh.

    “Wife 22” looks like an interesting way of telling a story, which is generally something I enjoy a lot. I don’t read very much that’s set in the modern world though, because I get enough of that in real life. Still, if I see it in passing I may end up picking it up. 🙂

    • You have been gone a very long time! Welcome back. 🙂
      I get a lot of modern things as well but don’t follow every trend that’s why I thought it was interesting to see how some people live. It’s witty and amusing. I really didn’t mind reading it. It has some thought-provoking elements too.
      I would be so curious to know what you’ve read in the last months. I’ve discovered so many books on your blog.

      • Thank you! It’s good to be back. I had missed blogging, but just didn’t have enough hours in my day. I moved a couple weeks ago, and live much closer to where I work now, and the semester’s over, so I feel like I finally have time for reading/blogging again.

        I should be posting a lot more reviews in the near future. Would you mind if I quoted you when reviewing a book that doesn’t feel quite as fresh as when I read it?

        • Sometimes you just need a break. Whatever the reason but it’s nice you are back.
          I’m not reviewing everything I’m reading aynmore as I don’t ave the time. Especially non-fcition takes longer to review so I stay away from it.
          Of course you can quote me. 🙂

  7. I know exactly what you mean, Caroline, about waiting too long and the book getting blurred. It was good to hear about this book anyway, as I hadn’t come across it before, so I’m glad you wrote a short review. The premise does sound intriguing, but a shame the ending was disappointing.

    • It’s too bad sometimes but I dodn’t always get the time just when I finish a book.
      I thought she did a lot well. Mny people liked the ending. I thought the idea as such was not entirely bad but it didn’t feel totally believable. Yeah well, a near miss.

  8. I think I’d like to read the memoir more. I’d be interested to see how the story related to her real life, and I’m on a non-fiction kick at the moment!

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