The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

Title:  The Wife’s Tale
Author:  Lori Lansens
Release date:  February 10, 2010
Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
Pages:  368
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Source:  LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Mary and Jimmy Gooch have been married for twenty-five years when, out of the clear blue sky, he disappears.  It becomes abundantly clear to Mary that Gooch is not only missing, but has run away from her and their marriage, and so she boards a plane for the first time in her life and sets out to find her husband.  Although Mary has spent her entire life trying to hide her large body from the world, when she arrives in Los Angles she realizes she has nowhere to hide, and must be her real self with strangers, and her mother-in-law, for the first time.  What she discovers about herself changes her, and her future, forever.

The Wife’s Tale is a character-driven novel in the deepest sense.  The entire novel is told from Mary’s point of view, the book is about everything she experiences, and the novel is about her growth as a person throughout the course of her time in L.A.  With a novel so centered on one character, it’s extremely important for that character to be well-written and easy to love, and Mary Gooch is exactly that.

I completely believed Mary right from the start.  She was super easy to empathize with, I couldn’t help liking her, and rooting for her to realize what a great person she was, and what an even greater person she had the potential to become.  I think I connected with her so well because I was able to see aspects of my own personality in hers.  While I have never struggled with my weight to the degree that Mary did, I constantly battle feelings of insecurity, of not feeling pretty enough, smart enough, GOOD enough to take my rightful place in the world.  So I understood the debilitating fear Mary had of breaking out of her comfort zone, the fear she had that if she tried something new, she would surely fail at it.  I definitely connected with Mary in a major way.

I was less interested in the plot of The Wife’s Tale than I was in Mary’s transformation, but Lansens threw in a couple of minor characters I was able to also root for, which was nice.  And I can’t say that I love where things ended up in the final pages, but I think it made sense given the rest of the story.

The Wife’s Tale is a solid piece of character-driven fiction, which I’m happy to say I can highly recommend.

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18 thoughts on “The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

  1. I’ve read some great reviews of this one and it is certainly on my list of books to read!! Thanks for your personal and insightful review!

  2. I already wanted to read this because of Swapna’s review. I think I’m going to move it up the list now. Great review.

  3. I have heard good things about this one. As someone who has struggled with my weight my entire life, I fear that it might almost hit too close to home but I definitely want to read it.

    1. I don’t know if it would hit TOO close to home for you, Lisa, as it is very inspiring the way Mary ends up shedding the pounds (literally and emotionally). She just becomes more of her authentic self, and then her self starts to come out! It’s really a great transformation.

  4. I agree that Mary’s character was extremely well-written. The only other book in which I’ve felt the characters REALLY come alive was House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. I felt like I knew Mary right from the start. Kudos to Lansens for creating such a dynamic character.

    As much as I loved Mary’s character, I was quite disappointed with the way the plot was developed and, like Heather, I was disappointed in the ending. I’d be less upset if Ms. Lansens has a “sequel” to this book in the works. I need to have some resolution for Mary 😉

    1. I agree about The House of Sand and Fog – that book is amazing. And you’re right about a sequel, too – I’d definitely read another book about Mary!

  5. I liked this one too, tho I thought the ending wrapped up too easily. She’s a beautiful and thoughtful writer. I am finishing up THE GIRLS right now – a very different book that I haven’t decided how I feel about yet.

    1. I would have to agree about the ending, although I liked how it made me want a sequel. 🙂 I read The Girls years ago and I believe I enjoyed it (it’s been awhile…) although I liked The Wife’s Tale more.

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