Literary Wives is an on-line book club that examines the meaning and role of wife in different books. Every other month, we post and discuss a book with this question in mind:
What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?
Don’t forget to check out the other members of Literary Wives to see what they have to say about the book!
- Ariel at One Little Library
- Carolyn at Rosemary & Reading Glasses (on break)
- Cecilia at Only You (on break)
- Audra at Unabridged Chick (on break)
- Emily at The Bookshelf of Emily J.
- Kay at What Me Read
- Lynn at Smoke & Mirrors
A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante
Dr. John Taylor is dead. Even though he appears to be an upstanding citizen and beloved doctor, the authorities are suspicious. In the investigation that follows, it comes to light that John is married to 3 different women. Is John’s death foul play? Do any of his wives know anything about it?
Deborah: The wife of 35 years. Deborah likes to be in control, and she cares about her family’s public appearance. She did everything she could think of to keep people from knowing about John’s other women. But, is she willing to kill over it?
MJ: The wife of 6 years. As a bit of an outsider, MJ thought she was out of luck with men until John came along. She was so grateful to have such a wonderful husband that she didn’t question the conditions and rules that came with him; such as his many business trips and never being allowed to call him at work. She just thought he was ‘eccentric’. How upset would she be if she were to find out he was already married?
Helen: The wife of 6 months. Helen was happy and independent. She had a busy career and was not looking for romance; had assumed she would remain single and was okay with that. Then she met John and fell hard. Although she was happy the way things were going, John insisted they get married. She found this odd, but married him anyway. The only condition: no children. So imagine how torn she must have felt to realize she was pregnant and would have to choose between her husband and her child.
All 3 wives were very different from each other and played their role as wife differently, too. Deborah was the backbone, the one who took care of John’s schedule, the mother of his children. MJ was the needier wife. She was more emotional and scatterbrained. Helen was the independent one; she didn’t need him to fill a void or present a picture of a happy family; but she was happy to see him when he was around.
Despite the fact that there are 3 wives in this book (or maybe because of this), I found that the book says more about the husband than any of his wives. As in My Father’s Wives, John didn’t seem to know what he wanted; or else he just wanted it all. But, rather than going from one woman to another, John was ‘collecting’ wives; wanted them all at once. I actually found it a little frustrating that we don’t get John’s perspective; what was he thinking?
This is a quick read that is mildly entertaining. But don’t expect it to leave you pondering life’s big questions. Except, maybe, why (in fiction) does it always seem to be the man who is married to more than one woman and not the other way around?
Our next book, to be discussed on April 4th, is How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman. Read along with us!