This week has flown by in a flurry in some ways, and dragged on in others. As usual I just didn't have nearly enough time to read. I worked on Dan Chaon's book, Await Your Reply for several days, never loving it the entire time. I would read each day waiting for some big aha moment, but my lack of interest and eventual skimming caused me to miss some important things - at least I hope that is why I still have a few questions after I was done reading.
Finally by Friday I started The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens, a book I had been waiting for. I have enjoyed Lansens' previous novels, and was not disappointed in The Wife's Tale at all. Lansens' characters in this book are so multi-faceted - real people - that I could feel myself finding something to like in each character she created, no matter their other faults. Mary Gooch, obese wife, married to Jim Gooch for twenty five years has just been going through the motions in her life. While she has always had a weight problem, except for a brief time when she had a parasite, Mary's weight continues to go up and up and up. Married young to a kind, and remarkably good looking man who has his own childhood demons he is fleeing, Jim Gooch and Mary have a hard time communicating with each other, yet remain together. On the eve of their silver wedding anniversary, Jim leaves for work but does not return home. This act finally causes Mary to wake up and helps her embark on an adventure she would never have had otherwise. Setting off to find Jim, Mary ends up finding herself and making new friends. Learning more of the backstory to Jim and Mary's marriage and childhood, I was rooting for them to find each other again. Mary still loved her husband, yet had neglected to show him or tell him, so much of her ineptitude tied up in her weight issues. And, despite the fact that most husbands who run off without telling their wives or making any form of contact would not rate very high in my book, Jim Gooch was also someone I was rooting for. I felt the entire time that Jim was a good guy, someone who had married too young and never had the chance to realize his dream, who needed Mary to make him feel as though he mattered, and who continually tried to do his best in a marriage that was not necessarily a match made in heaven. This could have been a book about a woman suffering the loss of her husband and losing weight to give her a fresh start. Mary does lose weight, but I enjoyed the fact that this was written about in a way that didn't seem predictable or the entire focus of Mary's new beginning. What Mary encountered inside of herself had more to do with her weight loss than a diet of deprivation and craving food could have accomplished.
I am sad I have finished this book. I would love to check in on Mary in a year or two, to see where her life has led her and how she has managed to go on. The Wife's Tale is a great women's fiction selection - I am betting many book clubs will enjoy discussing this title in the future.
Visit Lori Lansens' website