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Wife in the North
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Wife in the North [Paperback]

Judith O'Reilly
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 4, 2008
When Judith O’Reilly, a successful journalist and mother of three, agreed to leave London for a remote northern outpost, she made a deal with her husband that the move was a test-run to weigh the benefits of country living. In the rugged landscape of Northumberland County, O’Reilly swapped her high heels for rubber boots and life-long friends for cows, sheep, and strange neighbors.

In this tremendously funny and acutely observed memoir, O’Reilly must navigate the challenges and rewards of motherhood, marriage, and family as she searches for her own true north in an alien landscape. Her intrepid foray into the unknown is at once a hilarious, fish-out-of-water story and a poignant reflection on the modern woman’s dilemma of striking the right balance between career and family.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Remembering I Don't Know How She Does It, O'Reilly does her best impression, via blog, of Allison Pearson's overworked working mom in this collection of posts from the last three years of her life. As with Pearson's book, it has its charms and demerits. In a book too long by 100 pages, O'Reilly again and again makes the point that she did not wish to leave her London home to live in rural Northumberland, but her husband did: "He thinks it is spiritual home; I think it beautiful but bleak and chill and nowhere that I want to be." This whiny refrain quickly becomes irritating, and the short-entry format keeps the reasons behind that move (and O'Reilly's resentment) from ever being fully explored. O'Reilly's husband is a cipher, whose motives are never satisfactorily explored (after moving his family far away, he promptly goes back to work in London for weeks at a time). Much better, especially for Anglophile Americans, is when the author steps out with her new country neighbors, going on hunts and shearing sheep; O'Reilly's three children and, especially, her aging mother, also burst forth vibrantly, the product of loving examination.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When O’Reilly relocates to please her husband, she abandons London for a cottage in need of rebuilding in Northumberland, and her journalist’s career for that of a stay-at-home mom. She records her thoughts first in a diary, then in a blog, describing her misgivings, anger, ambivalence, and joy. Entries run from near despair to compliance to resignation, and around the circle again. Her husband is happier, though gone for weeks at a time for work. There is, or, at least will be when rebuilding is done, room for her increasingly feeble parents. The children are happy, though the five-year-old becomes the victim of bullying at school. Pressures arise when neighbors read the blog and take issue with her opinions; their social life leaves much to be desired, although there are moments. Whether they stay or go at the end of the two-year trial is unknown until the end. The book’s blog format, odd at first, turns out to be perfect for recounting O’Reilly’s experience of upheaval and change, and for offering a glimpse into someone else’s head. --Danise Hoover

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158648639X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586486396
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,777,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly Honest August 4, 2008
This book was nothing like I thought it would be. I was expecting a light-hearted memoir, but instead got a moving, poignant tale of motherhood.

This author has a writing style unlike anything I've read before, and it took me awhile to get used to the cadence and tone of her writing. I struggled with it at first. But once I got attuned to her style, it became a much easier read.

Yes, there are moments of hilarity. But there are also many more moments of despair, love, sadness, fear, happiness, belonging. As a mother of 3 boys very near in ages to the author's children, I could completely relate to the author's feelings of frustration, hopelessness, tiredness and yet deep, unending love for her children. The shock near the end was heart-wrenching (despite the fact that it had been hinted at, and I was half-expecting it), and I had real tears falling as I read it. I was quite moved.

The descriptions of the northern English countryside and way of life were also very entertaining. I love British books, but so often they are set in London, and so I had never really read about this part of the country. It was a refreshing change.

If you are looking for a fluffy, light read, this is not it. But this book is so definitely worth reading - especially if you are a mother - do give it a try. :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Motherhood and much more September 4, 2008
I should start by confessing that after reading several "blog-to-books", I've decided I don't care for the genre overall. Anecdotes that I might find funny, quirky and insightful in a day-to-day or weekly format don't seem to translate well into books. I find they often come off as too self-absorbed (how could they not?), too whiny and just plain trying too hard to pull a story out of an everyday, non-linear life. What works in small doses becomes hard to swallow in a tome.

After reading about a third of Wife in the North, I'd resigned myself to the same experience with this book. It seemed like it was going to be a combination of two themes: first, "long suffering wife gives up high power, glamorous career to raise children while husband keeps his career"; and second, "city girl unwillingly uproots herself to the country and through her own determination and fortitude, learns to appreciate the charms of its bumpkin people and character".

Of course, the book does cover that ground, as the author, her husband and three children move from London to the far northern English countryside of Northumberland. Having lived in England for two years, I concur that the two places are worlds apart culturally. O'Reilly's chronicles of her angst and foibles trying to craft a new life for herself and her family in a rural setting are funny without being condescending toward her new neighbors and village folk.

What really surprised me about the book, however, and why I gave it four stars, was O'Reilly's ability to capture the emotional highs and extreme lows of motherhood, and the fierce, unrelenting love of a mother for her children. As we learn more about her, she reveals a depth that I didn't expect based on the beginning of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad there is a blog to follow! August 22, 2008
RATING: 4.5 of 5

The subtitle of this book is three young children, two aging parents, and one absentee husband 350 miles from home, but it should end with `one very funny woman'.

As I started reading this book, I got out my little sticky tabs because there were so many funny, sarcastic sometimes but very funny, comments. After a while the edge of my book looked like it had been sprinkled with a heavy dose of confetti.

The honest feelings, sometimes bordering on blatant, that Ms. O'Reilly uses to describe her life as it unfolds during her transplant from London to Northumberland can resonate with many women. Every time you think she has run out of expressions or comparisons up pops another one. Her definition of a "health visitor" and then soon to follow the description of her body in a surfing wet suit had me practically rolling on the floor.

However, the book has a touching side to it as well. There were times when I wanted to pick up the phone and call her husband and tell him that he would later regret it if he did not go home and help his wife with their children during such a trying time and for Gosh sakes, at least pump the petrol. For someone who wanted to have his family raised in such a rural location, he was spending way too much time in London.

But when I came to the August 4, 2007 entry, and she described what the loss of child meant for her new friend, The Yorkshire Mother, I was very surprised that she was able to see it so clearly. I lost my only son and I have only found a kinship in that pain with other women that have lost a child. No matter what anyone says, it is loss very different from the loss of a parent, spouse, or sibling. And so it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An okay read about a move from London to the country December 31, 2008
Judith O'Reilly and her husband and children were living in London. Her husband has always dreamed of living in the country, so they move three and a half hours away to Northumberland. Judith agreed to a two year trial period and Wife in The North is her diary of that period.

At the beginning of the book, I found myself wondering why he wanted to move to the country when he still worked in London, and Judith ended up living as a single mother during the week. As the book progressed, I wondered why she agreed to the move when she loved London so much. Judith came across as very negative to me - she ran out of gas five times and always blamed her husband, even though he was in London. She was overwhelmed by her children, even though she had a "Girl Friday" come in to help her.

This book was just okay for me. There was really no plot and little character development - none of the characters had names beyond things like the "London Diva" and "the four-year-old". Judith does have a dry sense of humor, so there were a few humorous moments in the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and funny (possible spoiler alert)
I bought this book on the strength of A Year Of Doing Good by the same author. This one, her first book, is not as good, and does come across as a first effort, but it's still very... Read more
Published 9 months ago by SecondCherry
5.0 out of 5 stars Wife in the North
Good book, nice read. Very good author. In a setting I have been to to on holiday and enjoyed a great deal.
Published on June 5, 2013 by Shelley C. Grossman
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative style and a great read for tired, busy mums!
This was a fantastic book that I want to read over and over. I found her blog chapter style refreshing and so easy to pick up and put down when I only had a few minutes to devote. Read more
Published on January 12, 2010 by Relocated Mom
1.0 out of 5 stars Cry Me A River
If you are looking for a great book to curl up with and throw yourself a great big pitty party, this is a wonderful choice. This book just makes me mad. Read more
Published on September 8, 2009 by N. Tyson
4.0 out of 5 stars Wife In the North
Judith O'Reilly and her husband move from the city of London out to live in the country in the North. They have two young boys and Judith is pregnant. Read more
Published on December 28, 2008 by Naida M.
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Sweet Memoir!
I thought this was a really sweet and funny book in a journal format. The journal format works really successfully in this book, turning her memoir into a bunch of little stories... Read more
Published on November 23, 2008 by Mint910
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
Wife in the North is Judith O'Reilly's journey. Come along as Judith and her children are taken hostage to the North-Eastern part of England, especially Northumberland. Read more
Published on November 10, 2008 by Cheryl Koch
4.0 out of 5 stars "350 Miles from Home..."
"Wife in the North" is one of those books that turned out to be considerably different from the book I thought I would be reading when I first picked it up. Read more
Published on October 13, 2008 by Sam Sattler
3.0 out of 5 stars was ok.....
This blog to book chronicles the story of a mother-wife as she moved from London to the north of England, along with her 2 boys and another baby on the way. Read more
Published on September 25, 2008 by M. Tretiakova
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a Life
This book is journalist Judith O'Reilly's account of her family's move from London to the Northumberland countryside. Read more
Published on September 5, 2008 by LH422
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