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The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century

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Delving into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood, this book takes the reader on a journey into the wedding industrial complex. Anne Kingston looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange cel Delving into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood, this book takes the reader on a journey into the wedding industrial complex. Anne Kingston looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange celebration of wives who kill; and muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world's wealthiest and most influential women, are both unmarried. The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical, and economic commentary that is bound to stir debate even as it reframes our view of both women and marriage.


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Delving into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood, this book takes the reader on a journey into the wedding industrial complex. Anne Kingston looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange cel Delving into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood, this book takes the reader on a journey into the wedding industrial complex. Anne Kingston looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange celebration of wives who kill; and muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world's wealthiest and most influential women, are both unmarried. The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical, and economic commentary that is bound to stir debate even as it reframes our view of both women and marriage.

30 review for The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Imagine a world in which 3rd wave feminism never happened, Feminine Mystique remains the last word on women's issues, a world in which the primary question of feminism remains "Are upper-middle-class white women happy?" Because this is apparently the world the author lives in. I'd be willing to forgive that however, because hey, I'm an upper-middle-class white woman and it is a valid question whether or not I'm happy, but the author commits my pet peeve -- observation without argument. This book Imagine a world in which 3rd wave feminism never happened, Feminine Mystique remains the last word on women's issues, a world in which the primary question of feminism remains "Are upper-middle-class white women happy?" Because this is apparently the world the author lives in. I'd be willing to forgive that however, because hey, I'm an upper-middle-class white woman and it is a valid question whether or not I'm happy, but the author commits my pet peeve -- observation without argument. This book has no thesis, no point to make, and draws no conclusions. It might have some value as a bibliography for an undergrad working with this topic. I discovered while half-way through that the author isn't a wife herself, rendering this book a series of well-researched musings on a social role the author has no personal connection to. In essence, this book is a bunch of navel gazing written by someone without a bellybutton. Skip.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Man, I only got like 50 pages in and this is BO-RING. Again, no sense of humor? At all? Seriously? The title is taken far too literally (except for the "provocative" part.) It's like a super-sized essay on how the role of "wife" has changed over the years, and the contradictory things it can mean today. Gee, thanks, I've been an alive feminist with a computer for the past twenty-odd years, I know . . . stuff. Like what you just said. Bo to the ring.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Asferdinand

    Should have been called "The meaning of white, middle-to-upper class straight American wife." Because really, who else even counts? Interesting other than that, though.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book was awesome! Before reading this book, I was the typical twenty something with my pinterest board titled "Someday", complete with dresses, bridesmaids gifts, and party favors. I imagined myself not having a huge wedding, but having a wedding with close friends and family. I genuinely felt like I wouldn't mind getting hitched for the rest of my life should I find the "right" person. I was drawn to this book by the cover, and I really do judge books by their covers for better or for worse This book was awesome! Before reading this book, I was the typical twenty something with my pinterest board titled "Someday", complete with dresses, bridesmaids gifts, and party favors. I imagined myself not having a huge wedding, but having a wedding with close friends and family. I genuinely felt like I wouldn't mind getting hitched for the rest of my life should I find the "right" person. I was drawn to this book by the cover, and I really do judge books by their covers for better or for worse. From page one this book kept me involved and constantly questioning the many mundane and cult like aspects of the American wedding culture. It was actually kind of frightening to think about a wedding in American culture and what it means and for how long you might be paying it off. But this book not only talks about marriage, it talks about the many things that come with a marriage that women often believe will not happen to them including having a husband who does less housework/cooking/child care/ communication, etc. Kingston also discusses the grim statistics about domestic violence, divorce rates, how american culture is centered around sexuality but then deems any sexually powerful woman a slut, and also addresses the surprising facts about gay couples raising children. After reading this book I deleted my someday board on pinterest. I do not want to get married. There is much uncertainty in life, and committing yourself to one individual is frightening and can be disastrous for both parites. I have been exploring the other options in the commitment realm, and I definitely feel like (for me) domestic partnership is much better, much easier, and much less complicated than being legally bound to another. I feel like all heterosexual women should read this book (and lesbians if you want to see/feel good about how much more functional your relationships usually are!) whether or not you want to get married or stay single.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I've been reading this book off and on for months now, and I finished it last night. I can't decide how I feel about it. I kind of enjoyed reading it, and yet it kind of made me angry about the way the world (Western world, at least) treats both married and single women, and the institution of the "WIFE". It kind of made me want to get married and defy the stereotypes, and then it made me want to not get married EVER. I will be checking out some of the sources listed in the bibliography, that's fo I've been reading this book off and on for months now, and I finished it last night. I can't decide how I feel about it. I kind of enjoyed reading it, and yet it kind of made me angry about the way the world (Western world, at least) treats both married and single women, and the institution of the "WIFE". It kind of made me want to get married and defy the stereotypes, and then it made me want to not get married EVER. I will be checking out some of the sources listed in the bibliography, that's for sure.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book has a lot of promise and, unfortunately, does not deliver on that promise. Kingston's project is enormous-- what does "wife" mean in the 21st century? She focuses primarily on sources in popular culture (e.g. "Time" magazine articles, editorials in "The Wall Street Journal," the TV show "Sex and the City," and many Hollywood films, etc) mixed with a little bit of academic research, mostly from the fields of sociology and anthropology. There are two problems with this approach. First, s This book has a lot of promise and, unfortunately, does not deliver on that promise. Kingston's project is enormous-- what does "wife" mean in the 21st century? She focuses primarily on sources in popular culture (e.g. "Time" magazine articles, editorials in "The Wall Street Journal," the TV show "Sex and the City," and many Hollywood films, etc) mixed with a little bit of academic research, mostly from the fields of sociology and anthropology. There are two problems with this approach. First, she has so many examples that she never really dives into what they mean. The book is heavy on examples that are sort of self-evident but could benefit from a deeper exploration than a single paragraph. I felt like she zipped through so many articles, movies, TV shows, and more that I hardly had time to process the example and place it into the larger context of her argument before she'd moved on to the next thing. Second, the focus on popular culture means that the book is almost instantly dated. I didn't feel like there were a ton of take-away messages that would hold up under counter examples from more recent popular culture. Had she emphasized some of the more lasting findings from sociology, the limited applicability of the pop culture references might not have been such an issue. Source issues aside, the most substantial problem with "The Meaning of Wife" is its narrow focused on white, middle and upper-middle class, cis, straight women. Flavia Dzodan's quote about how "my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh*t?" It applies here. Kingston's observations just cannot be extended beyond this privileged group of women, and because of that, she doesn't really interrogate what "wife" means in the 21st century. That said, I kept reading it because the book is *just* interesting enough. Kingston does outline some ways in which "wife" and "bride" are categories that need examination. It'll provide good fodder for trivia and cocktail party conversation starters, but that's about it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    meosima

    I've picked up this book before. But because I'm surrounded by the engaged and newly-married, I felt like I should try it again. There's this ... almost irrational anger I sometimes feel toward the wedding industry, and I've felt it ever since I registered countless brides and grooms at Williams-Sonoma. Maybe my feelings aren't irrational... But regardless, I've never understood the advent of the bride-as-commodity, $1,000,000 wedding extravaganzas, the 'cake-must-match-the-invites-must-match-the I've picked up this book before. But because I'm surrounded by the engaged and newly-married, I felt like I should try it again. There's this ... almost irrational anger I sometimes feel toward the wedding industry, and I've felt it ever since I registered countless brides and grooms at Williams-Sonoma. Maybe my feelings aren't irrational... But regardless, I've never understood the advent of the bride-as-commodity, $1,000,000 wedding extravaganzas, the 'cake-must-match-the-invites-must-match-the-flower-girls'-sashes' way of going about things more clearly than when I read this book. I mean, I now understand the reasons why the modern wedding is what it is. I understand how it came to be. I still don't really 'get' it. Kingston talks a lot about the 'wife gap,' about how the idea of the bride is completely separated from the idea of the wife. The word 'wife' has numerous bad associations. But 'bride'? Who doesn't want to be a puffy, white cloud of beauty? A timeless, youthful image of hope, love and success? But conversely, who really wants to be a wife? That's the rub, isn't it? Ah, modern feminism. And then I must ask myself the inevitable question: 'Do I want to be a part of all this?' I don't know. I mean, the love? Yes. But the bride thing? Not if it costs me more than a down payment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Every woman should read this, married or single, because being a woman meant being a wife for much of our culture's history. Despite the funny cover, I was worried this book would be too academic and difficult to read or that is would be prescriptive and tell me what to think, both turnoffs. While it is dense it is easy to read, and very thought-provoking without feeling heavy-handed. When you thoroughly investigate all the implications of "wife," past and present, you have a broad topic indeed! Every woman should read this, married or single, because being a woman meant being a wife for much of our culture's history. Despite the funny cover, I was worried this book would be too academic and difficult to read or that is would be prescriptive and tell me what to think, both turnoffs. While it is dense it is easy to read, and very thought-provoking without feeling heavy-handed. When you thoroughly investigate all the implications of "wife," past and present, you have a broad topic indeed! Read it, friends.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex Rice

    I really enjoyed this book. The book explores the role of the wife in society from a historical perspective and does a very good job illustrating how that role has changed over time. I think I found the book interesting because I was able to compare my views on a wife and marriage to the views the author has. I have to say that being a 17 year old “man” that my perspective on my life as it relates to marriage is dramatically different than the perspective author has. The author speaks of a time I really enjoyed this book. The book explores the role of the wife in society from a historical perspective and does a very good job illustrating how that role has changed over time. I think I found the book interesting because I was able to compare my views on a wife and marriage to the views the author has. I have to say that being a 17 year old “man” that my perspective on my life as it relates to marriage is dramatically different than the perspective author has. The author speaks of a time when there weren't the career options that exist today. There were very clearly defined roles and expectations of a wife. I think that after having read this book I can see how society is reluctant to rid itself of those same roles. They are merely masked or misleading so that they appear different. Women today are told they "can have it all" and back then it was "this is all you get". Well, women really can't have it all and that is presenting a lot of new issues for women to deal with. The reference material in this book is very good and numerous examples were selected to support each theory presented. A very interesting read for both married and unmarried individuals male or female. I would also recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    janicec100

    This book gives an interesting historical about the role of wife over the recent years (50 or so). It was interesting to read about university presidents and how the schools started paying the wives about $65,000/year to do the stuff that the wife of a university president does. But, it's the same old story throughout the book about how the woman takes a back seat to the man's career, keeps the household running smoothly so the man can concentrate on the career that is supposed to benefit the ho This book gives an interesting historical about the role of wife over the recent years (50 or so). It was interesting to read about university presidents and how the schools started paying the wives about $65,000/year to do the stuff that the wife of a university president does. But, it's the same old story throughout the book about how the woman takes a back seat to the man's career, keeps the household running smoothly so the man can concentrate on the career that is supposed to benefit the household, and then the wife is so easily disposed when the husband is ready for a younger model. I've been through it. Most of my friends have been through it. There's a really funny job description for wife...indicating all that you must do, the less experience the better, and absolutely no security whatsoever. Why do smart women take that job? Fairy tales I guess.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is one of those books that when you finish it, you feel both wiser for the journey and completely sickened by what you've read. I recommend it for women, who need to get in touch with the history of female ownership throughout time, and I recommend it for men to get a sense of exactly what has been ingrained into the female psyche. I will admit that it is at times, quite harsh, but like many books of this ilk, sometimes you have to read the extreme in order to better gauge the mainstream. To This is one of those books that when you finish it, you feel both wiser for the journey and completely sickened by what you've read. I recommend it for women, who need to get in touch with the history of female ownership throughout time, and I recommend it for men to get a sense of exactly what has been ingrained into the female psyche. I will admit that it is at times, quite harsh, but like many books of this ilk, sometimes you have to read the extreme in order to better gauge the mainstream. To say it's eye-opening would be an understatement. It will make you appreciate your mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers more than just about anything else.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I so wanted this book to be a thought-provoking, in-depth examination of what it means to be a "wife" in modern American society, but instead I found it incredibly tedious. The author requotes "woman on the street" quotes from newspaper articles in the 1990s multiple times as evidence of broad trends, which feels...lazy. It's not that I disagreed with her assessment of how fraught and constraining "wifehood" is; it's more that she could have made her points effectively in an Atlantic article, ra I so wanted this book to be a thought-provoking, in-depth examination of what it means to be a "wife" in modern American society, but instead I found it incredibly tedious. The author requotes "woman on the street" quotes from newspaper articles in the 1990s multiple times as evidence of broad trends, which feels...lazy. It's not that I disagreed with her assessment of how fraught and constraining "wifehood" is; it's more that she could have made her points effectively in an Atlantic article, rather than a 350-page book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I count my blessings, so to speak, that I was born when I was and get to live in this time, in this place, when my decisions are my own and my life is mine. I can't thank my parents enough for enabling me to tell the bullshit from the worthwhile, and to have opinions of me own without falling for the 'everybody's doing it' trends and popularity contents. This book reminds me of how happy I am that I'm a stubborn, contrary bitch.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mila Rossi

    This might as well have been a dissertation, because it read like a very long research paper. If you're looking for every fact known to humans about wifely definitions, responsibilities, and expectations, then go for it. I bought this book a long time ago when I got married and expected, I don't know, the secret to eternal bliss? I couldn't get through it back then and even the second time around it wasn't any better.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Douglas

    A well-researched testament to why I find traditional marriage, wedding rings, and replacing your own name with your spouse's absurd. Women who rarely find themselves fitting "in the box" will appreciate this book. Women who have never stopped to question why they want the things they want (or what they're told they should want) should read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Buckley

    With women moving out of the home into the career world, the definition of wife has changed. One of the main reasons this book received three stars is it is dated. It was written in 2004, and because it uses social examples, the information is dated or hardly relevant to the new generation of wife. Seriously, the first chapter start with the author watching Princess Diane get married. Even women thirty years old weren't even born yet. There are so many other references to Hollywood's interpretat With women moving out of the home into the career world, the definition of wife has changed. One of the main reasons this book received three stars is it is dated. It was written in 2004, and because it uses social examples, the information is dated or hardly relevant to the new generation of wife. Seriously, the first chapter start with the author watching Princess Diane get married. Even women thirty years old weren't even born yet. There are so many other references to Hollywood's interpretation of wife that the book uses as fact that are sickening. Hollywood is selling something not the basis in which most people live their life. Seriously, we may have watched 'Sex in the City' but that doesn't mean we want that much drama for ourselves. I nearly gagged on the chapter, to which Ms. Kingston writes of the White Bride. A bride is not a wife, it is a commercial idea and any woman, who has been around a married couple, is at fault for blinding themselves that marriage doesn't take work and it is a continuous party as the wedding. The only slightly educational chapters were "Sex and the Married Woman" and "What's a Wife Worth". Sex and marriage. Where to begin? Women can be sexy until they get married. But then, lingering ideas of women being their spouse's property still exist. Meaning that after they are married, women should only be sexy for their husbands. Covering themselves in a way that would keep other men from looking at "the goods". The wife should be a sex pot in the bedroom even when exhausted or frustrated at the end of a long day. It is sad that after all the advancements made that a woman feels less of a sexy woman when she marries. How to change it? Communication or avoid using wife at all. Evaluating the worth of a wife has recently become a topic in ecomonics and in the households, where women are outsourcing "wifely duties". But it is not just cooking, cleaning, kid juggling that are involved. Even universities are paying wives as they offer their services as hostesses to fundraisers, volunteer time, attend meetings, and even create their own network that encourages their husband's careers and businesses. Wives are beginning to say no to these things as they develop their own careers but several businesses are realizing the value of these women behind the scenes of their male employees as they lose their support. We are currently realizing this as the thought has been brought forward to pay the First Lady for her work rather than just assume it is her duty to encourage the career and policies of her husband and the country. Of course, because of the date of the book, the author does not cover this. Would I recommend this book? Not likely, especially for a reader with traditional upbringing. It's sheer volume of social, hollywood references make it out of touch with a good number of wives or future brides. A wife should write her own definition to her role as it is the role in which only she is the key actor.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Excuse the bullet points and fragments.. - Lively writing, not like a dull textbook. Reminded me of the assigned readings from my Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies classes from college. - It is evident that the writer is well-read on feminist history/writing/theory while also paying close attention to current/recent events/trends/discussions. A lot of the analysis and observations are drawn from advertisements, visual media sales figures, popular culture, survey results, some anecdotes .. A goo Excuse the bullet points and fragments.. - Lively writing, not like a dull textbook. Reminded me of the assigned readings from my Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies classes from college. - It is evident that the writer is well-read on feminist history/writing/theory while also paying close attention to current/recent events/trends/discussions. A lot of the analysis and observations are drawn from advertisements, visual media sales figures, popular culture, survey results, some anecdotes .. A good variety of sources that unmask society's various interpretation of the word "wife." - Chapters are well organized and they flow nicely. The argument in each chapter are well developed and elaborated on throughout. - Analysis is centered on American, Canadian, and British sources/narratives/discourse (with a few mentions of wives in other cultures/countries. I wish there was more on the concept of "wife" in other cultures, since the attitudes towards women (particularly concerning domestic violence, wife = home, suppression of sexuality) are not confined to Western/Anglo-Saxon cultures. - Ultimately redemptive of marriages/partnerships and stressing that the figurative role of "wife" does not need to have a negative connotation (subservient, secondary, beta, ...) and that some people (both men and women) do genuinely want to be a supportive figure in partnerships. Anne Kingston does give out a warning call against falling for the "Cinderella simplex" and society's calls to return to the 1950's, but understands that some aspects (providing support, focusing on family, sacrificing one's career for one's partner's) are personally desirable by whoever the figurative wife may be.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    As someone that is newly engaged and beginning the arduous task of planning a wedding and becoming a wife, I found this book quite fascinating. Kingston has done her homework and written an academic work but it still remains easy to read. She traces the term 'wife' throughout the ages, examining the feminist movements, delving into the social, sexual, and emotional realities in our culture forming our ideas of what it means to be a wife, to be single, and to be a woman. It's extremely hard to be As someone that is newly engaged and beginning the arduous task of planning a wedding and becoming a wife, I found this book quite fascinating. Kingston has done her homework and written an academic work but it still remains easy to read. She traces the term 'wife' throughout the ages, examining the feminist movements, delving into the social, sexual, and emotional realities in our culture forming our ideas of what it means to be a wife, to be single, and to be a woman. It's extremely hard to be a wife with all the expectations attached to the word; expectations that have been programmed into us since childhood. There still remains a strong current of sexism running through this county, which Kingston documented very well. This book left me angry and frustrated at times but I think the message, and certainly the way I will view my future marriage, is that you can and should make up the definition of wife for yourself. As Kingston astutely points out - no woman is the same, as no marriage is the same. Make your own rules and be happy. It's hard to be a woman, but it's equally hard to be a man when we place so many expectation on ourselves that are impossible to meet. Good read! I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Provocative Cover, Intellectual Text Author Anne Kingston deserves five stars-plus for her exhaustive research and objective presentation of the subject. The Meaning of Wife, which is by no means a quick or light read, is well written, engaging, thought provoking and entertaining. If you are a wife, you'll find yourself somewhere in these pages. If you're not a wife, you may recognize your mother or your friends, or the woman you call your wife. Kingston covers all the bases, beginning with the w Provocative Cover, Intellectual Text Author Anne Kingston deserves five stars-plus for her exhaustive research and objective presentation of the subject. The Meaning of Wife, which is by no means a quick or light read, is well written, engaging, thought provoking and entertaining. If you are a wife, you'll find yourself somewhere in these pages. If you're not a wife, you may recognize your mother or your friends, or the woman you call your wife. Kingston covers all the bases, beginning with the world's fascination with Princess Diana's foray into wifedom. In a chapter called "Heart of Whiteness," which is what I've always called "White Lace Dreams," she details the wedding dress selection and compares the white lacy dress to the wedding cake. "The modern wedding cake is a bride you can put in your mouth," is a quote attributed to food writer Jeffrey Steingarten. From there, the topics of sex and abuse, divorce and value are thoroughly portrayed. Strong vocabulary, this is academic material. Well done.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cyndie Courtney

    As a total overachiever who wants to be good at everything, when I got married I kind of freaked out because I didn't know what it meant to be a "good wife" in this day in age and with my partner. This book won't really clear it up for you, but at least you'll feel better that others and our culture and large also have a confusing relationship with the word. The book's what you expect - it talks about what it meant to be a wife in the past and what it means today. Covers a broad range of topics As a total overachiever who wants to be good at everything, when I got married I kind of freaked out because I didn't know what it meant to be a "good wife" in this day in age and with my partner. This book won't really clear it up for you, but at least you'll feel better that others and our culture and large also have a confusing relationship with the word. The book's what you expect - it talks about what it meant to be a wife in the past and what it means today. Covers a broad range of topics from the legal status of wives, the OJ trial, having a wife raising men's average salary, and reality TV. Focuses more on the downsides than the upsides of being a wife, though one can assume the proposed virtues of being a wife have been covered pretty comprehensively by society at large. Didn't blow my mind but was a very worthwhile read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Absolutely love this cover and I enjoyed holding it on the bus. The essays in this book are very well researched and written. Even though Kingston doesn't come to any conclusions about what one should or shouldn't think/do/be as a wife, she asks many thought-provoking (often rhetorical) questions. Is the power in making the choice to marry or not? To love a full-time career versus a desire to stay home and raise a family? How about being proud of being a wife and supporting the institution (and Absolutely love this cover and I enjoyed holding it on the bus. The essays in this book are very well researched and written. Even though Kingston doesn't come to any conclusions about what one should or shouldn't think/do/be as a wife, she asks many thought-provoking (often rhetorical) questions. Is the power in making the choice to marry or not? To love a full-time career versus a desire to stay home and raise a family? How about being proud of being a wife and supporting the institution (and one's husband)? What is the "right" answer? Turns out, there isn't one. It is a debate that will continue for decades to come. It's definitely one worth contemplating though, especially as a soon-to-be wife (the essay on weddings was particularly interesting).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy L. Campbell

    Kingston looks at the institution of marriage, the role of wife, and the transition that occurs from single woman to engaged to married. There is a focus on how advertising and pop culture in the current and continued stereotype of the wife. I was a little disappointed that the author decided to use end notes rather than foot notes. I would have liked to have been able to track what information she got from where a little better. Still, not a bad read for someone considering the role of wife and Kingston looks at the institution of marriage, the role of wife, and the transition that occurs from single woman to engaged to married. There is a focus on how advertising and pop culture in the current and continued stereotype of the wife. I was a little disappointed that the author decided to use end notes rather than foot notes. I would have liked to have been able to track what information she got from where a little better. Still, not a bad read for someone considering the role of wife and what it means for him or her. The reviewer is a 2009 graduate of Kent State University's Master of Library and Information Sciences program, an alumna of Antioch College, and the author of the blog A Librarian's Life in Books.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    http://allthingsjennifer.wordpress.co... Personally, I felt like this book didn't give me much new information, not sure what I was expecting. I put it down a few weeks ago and honestly didn't think I would pick it back up. But this morning I did (by accident, grabbed the wrong book but didn't want to get back out of bed) and well, I finished it. I tend to be the person who follows this sort of topic via magazine articles, other books...and I even realized from my law school education with Family http://allthingsjennifer.wordpress.co... Personally, I felt like this book didn't give me much new information, not sure what I was expecting. I put it down a few weeks ago and honestly didn't think I would pick it back up. But this morning I did (by accident, grabbed the wrong book but didn't want to get back out of bed) and well, I finished it. I tend to be the person who follows this sort of topic via magazine articles, other books...and I even realized from my law school education with Family Law, Divorce Law and Domestic Violence Law. So not much was new to me. THAT SAID, it is a pretty well done comprehensive look at several topics surrounding marriage.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    The book is very well researched and covers a lot of interesting angles of the topic of "wife" especially various movements (1950s housewives, to 1990s shoulderpadded career women to the new concept of "trophy husbands") but the book is very dense so you cannot read it very quickly. I was disappointed that it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions, the final chapter does some summarizing but it's too little too late. Also I feel like the book really limited itself by only covering trends of The book is very well researched and covers a lot of interesting angles of the topic of "wife" especially various movements (1950s housewives, to 1990s shoulderpadded career women to the new concept of "trophy husbands") but the book is very dense so you cannot read it very quickly. I was disappointed that it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions, the final chapter does some summarizing but it's too little too late. Also I feel like the book really limited itself by only covering trends of defining "wife" in the Western world and mostly just the US at that. I still think it's worth reading as an education and spring board for self-reflection but am sad to say it doesn't give one the resolution to the problem that I'd like it to.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julie Baumeister

    This book took me a while to get through; but, I should say that any book without a plot takes me a long time to read (which is why I mostly stick to fiction!). Some of the early chapters that recounted "the meaning of wife" through history were interesting. The later chapters, however, just pissed me off all the time. Why? I didn't think that this book fully addressed the modern meanings of wife. Unless, of course, your only definition of wife is a stay-at-home-mom ready to get a big divorce se This book took me a while to get through; but, I should say that any book without a plot takes me a long time to read (which is why I mostly stick to fiction!). Some of the early chapters that recounted "the meaning of wife" through history were interesting. The later chapters, however, just pissed me off all the time. Why? I didn't think that this book fully addressed the modern meanings of wife. Unless, of course, your only definition of wife is a stay-at-home-mom ready to get a big divorce settlement from her CEO husband... Again, I'll note it's been a while since I read this, but certain chapters left me fuming. But maybe that's a good thing? I like books that make people angry, because they (hopefully!) make people think.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Kind of a scattered (and dated, all of the opinions and examples smack heavily of the late 90s and early 2000s) read that probably would have flowed better had it not taken 5 months to get through. I was going to give this three stars until I got to this paragraph at the end: "There is no singular meaning of wife. That is the point. That is its meaning. To see the wife fully through a multi-faceted lens is one of the central challenges facing society in the twenty-first century. To do this, new Kind of a scattered (and dated, all of the opinions and examples smack heavily of the late 90s and early 2000s) read that probably would have flowed better had it not taken 5 months to get through. I was going to give this three stars until I got to this paragraph at the end: "There is no singular meaning of wife. That is the point. That is its meaning. To see the wife fully through a multi-faceted lens is one of the central challenges facing society in the twenty-first century. To do this, new scripts are required that employ wife as a verb and as a gender-neutral concept. These are essential if we are to create necessary new narratives, new ways of living as women and men together". Still not a great book, but tied together nicely at the end.

  27. 5 out of 5

    E.H.

    A good book on the history of marriage and women in marriage. Not the best book to read a month before you get married (oops). A good book to read if you want to be happy being a single woman. I wish she'd written it about six years later (it came out in 2004 or 2005) so she could talk about current trends like the whole giant families tv show thing (The Duggars, Jon + Kate et al) and Desperate Housewives. I also wish she'd gone into more depth about gay marriage and the role of women in it, othe A good book on the history of marriage and women in marriage. Not the best book to read a month before you get married (oops). A good book to read if you want to be happy being a single woman. I wish she'd written it about six years later (it came out in 2004 or 2005) so she could talk about current trends like the whole giant families tv show thing (The Duggars, Jon + Kate et al) and Desperate Housewives. I also wish she'd gone into more depth about gay marriage and the role of women in it, other than just saying that lesbians were viewed as "hot" in the late 90s. Still, a very good book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    A good discussion on modern women and their role in marriage. I set down the book half-way through because I was starting to feel radical/feminist/oppressed. The ideas in the book might be a bit radical, but also seeds of truth. For example, the commercial I saw a few days ago where the woman marries a man because of his awesome kitchen faucet, or how a friend's husband complains about cooking every day because he's in between jobs at the moment and his wife is taking on the role of bread winner A good discussion on modern women and their role in marriage. I set down the book half-way through because I was starting to feel radical/feminist/oppressed. The ideas in the book might be a bit radical, but also seeds of truth. For example, the commercial I saw a few days ago where the woman marries a man because of his awesome kitchen faucet, or how a friend's husband complains about cooking every day because he's in between jobs at the moment and his wife is taking on the role of bread winner. Things are not always equal (or rational for that matter), but I also feel that these are not generic situations that describe every relationship and every woman.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leah Hortin

    I couldn't get past the third chapter. I tried. It wasn't at all "provocative" - apprently you CANT judge a book by its cover. I was thinking it would be witty and fun. Yeah, no. It's not. I'm not much of a feminist, and I'm newly married and I just couldn't get into it. It all seemed like harsh generalizations strung along to form paragraphs that pretty much just bashed modern-women. At least that's my take. I tried to keep reading but it sat on my nightstand for weeks, untouched, so back to th I couldn't get past the third chapter. I tried. It wasn't at all "provocative" - apprently you CANT judge a book by its cover. I was thinking it would be witty and fun. Yeah, no. It's not. I'm not much of a feminist, and I'm newly married and I just couldn't get into it. It all seemed like harsh generalizations strung along to form paragraphs that pretty much just bashed modern-women. At least that's my take. I tried to keep reading but it sat on my nightstand for weeks, untouched, so back to the library it goes. ETA: Maybe I don't like this book it makes me uncomfortable and questions my own reasons for marriage.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I really, really wanted to like this but I just couldn't. Myopic is the best way I can think to describe it. Completely heteronormative, middle/upper class relevant. Some historical context but mostly just chapter after chapter of pop culture reference or pop cult case review. Some decent points/funny-ish zings, sure, but it's so tone deaf I feel like I didn't learn anything. I was hoping given the length of this book that it would be a historically accurate coverage of marriage and the ideals t I really, really wanted to like this but I just couldn't. Myopic is the best way I can think to describe it. Completely heteronormative, middle/upper class relevant. Some historical context but mostly just chapter after chapter of pop culture reference or pop cult case review. Some decent points/funny-ish zings, sure, but it's so tone deaf I feel like I didn't learn anything. I was hoping given the length of this book that it would be a historically accurate coverage of marriage and the ideals that have shifted around it sociologically in the U.S. at large. Let down, but didn't hate it. Didn't love it either.

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