Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan: A Review

The Good WifeThe Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Stewart O'Nan's work. He is the master of the quotidian, the champion of the ordinary, though this was not my favorite of his novels.

This is, quite simply, the story of Patty, a woman whose husband makes a stupid decision and winds up in prison for twenty five years. Pregnant at the time of his arrest, she spends the next two decades waiting for him, and we follow her through the appeals and prison visits, financial strife and dashed hopes as she waits for him to come home.

I have found that listening to a novel on CD creates a unique intimacy between reader and text. And I found myself slipping easily into Patty's life, as though I were there with here through the twenty-five years she waits for her husband to get out of prison.

Perhaps it was because I am familiar with O'Nan's work (Wish You Were Here, for example), but I did not expect the riveting plot line that some readers missed. My complaints were rather with Patty and how little I understood her dedication to her husband (feeling that her allegiance to him came simply out of pride and resignation rather than something more potent and meaningful). I was also troubled by her relationship with her son. I was confounded by her lack of sympathy and compassion for him as he grows up in these troubled circumstances.

However, I did feel like O'Nan, once again, authentically and beautifully paints the portrait of a working class family.

1 comment:

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