Tuesday 28 April 2009

The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

I liked this book. And then I hated this book. And then I liked this book.

Meri & Nathan move in next door to Delia & Tom. Tom is never around and by being exceedingly nosy, Meri discovers why. Meri is unhappy in her marriage for no good reason and wishes she was more like Delia. She betrays Delia in the most invasive way not once but twice despite Delia's attempts to be her friend.

Meri is a reprehensible character right up until the end of the book. I hated her whingeing, whining ways but she redeems herself somewhat in the last chapter. Delia is an understandable but sad picture of what it meant to be the wife of a successful senator with a roving eye in the 1960s. Tom is a pathetic, weak, vile man. You never really get to know Nathan. He skirts around the fringes of the novel without having an impact on any of the story.

The beginning reads like a mystery but this isn't really a mystery. Tom is having affairs. everyone knows he is. The middle irritated me so much I almost stopped reading. Why do women have to be portrayed as so weak. The ending was a complete surprise and I loved it because of the way it socks you in the gut. Meri did what?

This is not a pleasant story. I don't like what it says about woman and their relationships with each other. I don't like what is says about motherhood and our relationships with our children. But just because I don't like it doesn't mean it isn't true.

I recommend reading this book only if you have a strong stomach and aren't particularly emotionally fragile. If you are looking for a happy, uplifting read, look elsewhere.

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