From Publishers Weekly
Despite its occasionally academic tone, this encyclopedic examination of wifedom should trump wedding magazines on the list of required reading for prospective brides. Canadian journalist Kingston's behind-the-scenes tour of not-always-holy matrimony begins with a visit to the inner sanctum of Vera Wang's exclusive Madison Avenue bridal boutique and ends with an analysis of how much a wife is worth in economic terms. Along the way, she shines her spotlight on the bedroom, several real-world first wives' clubs, Carrie Bradshaw's single-girl lair and the worlds of women who have killed or maimed abusive husbands. (Naturally, Lorena Bobbitt figures prominently.) While Kingston writes, "For all the crowing that marriage is in crisis, the institution still remains the preferred way to cement love," she also notes that a "strong marriage is an advantageous incubator in which to raise children" and "a source of varying degrees of economic support," and some readers might wonder if they're romantic fools for wondering how true love factors into the equation. But Kingston asks some important questions—How does marriage affect a woman's sense of self? Is it possible to place a dollar value on a mother's work? How is our idea of the wife shaped over the decades?—and challenges a new generation of brides to come up with their own creative answers.
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"Smart and sophisticated . . . Kingston's radar is, as always, acute . . . Here's one title the neighbourhood book clubs absolutely do not want to wait for in paperback." --Toronto Star
"Fascinating . . . With considerable intelligence and objectivity, Kingston provides a historic perspective that elicits anger, sorrow and belly laughs . . . Wife raises important questions.
--Elizabeth Simpson, The Globe and Mail.
"Kingston is a sharp writer with an engaging style, and she smartly avoids both right- and left-wing dogmatism . . . The Meaning of Wife . . . proves through-provoking . . . zoom[ing] in on all the right questions."--Catherine Tunnacliffe, Eye Weekly
"The word 'wife' has defined women for untold generations, but who is defining the word itself? Kingston has amassed a wealth of sociological research and tempered it with a wry wit to produce a compelling analysis of the forces behind the marriage message." --Suzanne Braun Levine, former editor of Ms. and author of Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First and Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood
"Billion dollar wedding industry notwithstanding, it appears that as women get more rights, both women and men need a wife and fewer people want to be one. With insight and humor Anne Kingston analyzes the wife, and reveals the many inequalities that still face women." --Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, co-authors of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future and Grassroots: A Field Guide to Feminist Activism
"Kingston has written that rarest of books--a work of trenchant social analysis that is also compulsively readable and culturally hip." --Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor of Ms. and author of Three Daughters
"Every wife, former wife, and wife-to-be--every woman, period--should read this impeccably researched, important, and enlightening book about what the "w" word means today. Kudos and gratitude to Anne Kingston." --Cathi Hanauer, editor of The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood and Marriage and author of My Sister's Bones