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Sunday (Book Review) – Something Different -The Wife – Movie #Review

 

Today’s Sunday Book Review is a little different. Today I’m reviewing a movie I only recently watched – The Wife. The movie – taken from the book by Meg Wolitzer, left me with lots to think about – especially since the main characters – husband and wife, are both writers – only the storyline depicts the husband as the worthy literary master.

 

I’m typically, not a ‘watch the movie first and then read the book kind of gal’, rather, quite the opposite. If I’ve already read a book and loved it, I will absolutely see the movie, and of course scrutinize the writing as I watch, (bad habit), and hope the movie will do a good book justice. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a box office let down after waiting in anticipation for the movie version only to be disappointed. So, being as I missed out reading the book before the movie came to my movie channel, starring Glenn Close, I had to watch it.

 

 

Blurb:

Now a major motion picture starring Glenn Close in her Golden Globe–winning role!

One of bestselling author Meg Wolitzer’s most beloved books—an “acerbically funny” (Entertainment Weekly) and “intelligent…portrait of deception” (The New York Times). 

The Wife is the story of the long and stormy marriage between a world-famous novelist, Joe Castleman, and his wife Joan, and the secret they’ve kept for decades. The novel opens just as Joe is about to receive a prestigious international award, The Helsinki Prize, to honor his career as one of America’s preeminent novelists. Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, finally decides to stop.

Important and ambitious, The Wife is a sharp-eyed and compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she’s made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. “A rollicking, perfectly pitched triumph…Wolitzer’s talent for comedy of manners reaches a heady high” (Los Angeles Times), in this wise and candid look at the choices all men and women make—in marriage, work, and life.

 

My 5 Star Review:

I can only imagine how good this book must be because the movie was so well done with Glenn Close playing an amazing and emotional role and winning the Golden Globe Award for that role as ‘the wife’.

How long can a sham go on?

I love a good movie with deep characters and stories that make me question how I’d react if what I was watching had happened to me – especially when it involves writers. The movie was engaging from the get-go and the plot thickened at a comfortable pace leading  to the deep-seated issue and question: What would you do if you spent a lifetime helping your spouse be praised in the literary community, when YOU are the actual one doing THEIR writing for them and the day comes that a literary award is bestowed to your spouse for your writing. It certainly made me stop and think as a writer.

Yes, it’s a fictional movie, but certainly gives us pause. And no, I personally couldn’t do it, writing under the shadow of someone else to give them the credit for – spouse or no spouse. I should think if Joan chose to be a ghostwriter, there would be no story. But this is a story.

The story begins with the seemingly happy middle-aged couple – Joan and Joe, elated after just receiving the news that Joe has been selected as the next winner of the International Helsinki Award to honor his work as a novelist. The story progresses along inviting us into the personal lives of the couple, the friction between Joe and his son who is also a writer desperately seeking his father’s approval, and the glamorous travel and dinner parties that come along with Joe’s new elevated fame, leaving Joan feeling slighted by Joe’s escalation to fame and the rising anger within that Joan struggles with because of.

Earlier in the movie, Joan holds back her hurt and accompanies her husband to all the limelight events in his honor, but her face and actions clearly demonstrate she’s not as happy for Joe as she earlier on led us to believe. We are made to think perhaps she’s jealous of the attention he’s getting, and we don’t find out till midway through the movie what is really irking Joan.

Resentment trumps love when we discover through Joan’s flashbacks, Joan’s earlier life, taking us back to Joan’s college days in English class where she fell in love with her professor – Joe. We learn that Joan had all the makings of a literary scholar, but she was young and enamored by Joe, and somehow fell into becoming the writer of Joe’s books because she was ultimately, the better writer and wanted to help her now husband succeed. The years turned into decades with this undercover operation, until Joe receives this award, which becomes the final blow to what Joan can no longer accept.

I’ll end the review there, as I don’t want to give away the end. But I put myself in Joan’s shoes as a writer and couldn’t conceive myself putting out a lifetime of my work under the name of anybody else. Could you?

 

©DGKaye

 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

43 Comments

  • Norah Colvin

    I’ll have to watch this one, Debby. It sounds great. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve read a couple of other stories with a similar plot. In one the husband actually killed the wife for her novel, and in the second someone was discredited for their role in the story that was told. I think it’s a great premise for a story, be it novel or movie. And as you’ve said, how would we writers resist?

    • dgkaye

      Oooh, I enjoy this type of read Norah. There’s something about reading or watching stories involving writers that touches home with us. This book/movie in particular demonstrates the passion of writing for your spouse, only to feel it smack you back in the face when all our hard work pays off and the realization hits and you can’t take the limelight for your own work. Powerful emotions and decisions are raised, making for a great book/movie. 🙂 x

  • Pete Springer

    Wow! What a compelling story! First off, I’ve never read the book or seen the movie, but now you’ve got me hooked with such an engaging review. I know I’m supposed to say I’d prefer the book over the movie, and that often is the case. For me, sometimes it’s more about what I’ve done first. If I’ve seen a great movie and loved it, then read the book expecting some great mind movies that are not in the book, I feel let down.

    More often, I’ve read a great book first and go to the movie with certain expectations in my mind waiting for those scenes. When they aren’t there because the movie is vastly different, I feel disappointed as a viewer.

    As far as the question you pose, I don’t think I could allow someone else to take credit for something I’ve done. Maybe there is a little ego there, but for me it is more a question of ethics. I also don’t think I could take credit if I were the inferior writer getting an award that should rightly go to my spouse.

    You’ve given us lots to think about, Debby, and thanks for not spoiling the ending because I’m planning on now reading the book and watching the movie.

    • dgkaye

      HI Pete. Thanks for chiming in. So it sounds like we’re both on the same ‘page’ so to speak. Yes, I prefer to read a book first and then scrutinize the movie to see what they do with it, and get let down if a certain moving or integral part from the book has been left out. And it’s not hard as a writer to put ourselves in Joan’s shoes when her husband gets the glory that she earned him. Enjoy the book and I look forward to your thoughts after. 🙂

  • Jacqui Murray

    This sounds like just my kind of book, Deb. I remember when my mother stopped playing the part and stood up for herself. She actually burned her bra in the fireplace! My father was so shocked, he just stood there. Good memories.

  • Robbie Cheadle

    Oh, no, Debby. I could not put out work under someone else’s name. That would kill me. A most interesting review and Glen Close is a very good actress.

  • Darlene Foster

    I have heard fo this movie and it sounds very good. Thanks for the great review. Not sure what I would do in a case like this but you would think the husband would pass on the credit where it belongs! I too love movies and books about writers.

  • Sally Cronin

    We loved this film too Debby… I was seething for much of the time… and both performances were amazing.. I too can recommend. Great review and I hope those who have not seen the film will now. Especially if they are writers. ♥

    • dgkaye

      Yay Sal! Of course you must have seen this, the big movie goer you are. I tend to wait for it to come out later on my movie channel, lol. Better late than never I guess. And I look forward to seeing it again! I agree with you 100% all writers would enjoy the movie. The writing and acting were superb. <3 xo

  • John Maberry

    How interesting! Especially since yesterday afternoon I went to this reading at a local coffee shop (they have an open mic; I’ll be back in August to read more of my stuff) that featured a wife (Geri Rhodes) reading excerpts from two of her deceased husband’s (Ralph M Flores) books. They were both writers–she a PhD English college level educator and helped edit his last book after his death. No competition or theft. 🙂

  • Jane Sturgeon

    Ohh thanks, Debby, you reminded me that I wanted to watch this and I may read the book first. Great review. I think in all of us there is an invisible line and when it is crossed and we rear up, it can surprise us as much as others. She was young and in awe of her professor, so you can quite see how this unfolded. As we get older our boundaries become clearer…chuckling as I write those words. Hugs and much <3 for you. Ohh, I recall that I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett and loved it and shared it with my daughter. We went to see the film together and there, we felt, that the film did the book justice. Another one is The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais and I have heard him speak about how much they involved him in the making of the film. Writers matter…. <3

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Jane, for your input. Glad I reminded you about this movie. And yes, I also loved The Help and the Hundred Foot Journey, both movie versions. It does help the movie when they involve the author I believe, like Atwood’s Handmaids Tale. Hugs, and do enjoy the movie! <3 xxoo

    • dgkaye

      Imagine that, both of us missed this earlier! Highlyyyyyyy recommend! And if you get a chance to watch the movie, the emotions of Joan just jumps off the screen! 🙂 x

  • Hilary

    Yes – one I’ve wanted to see … maybe I missed it … but definitely will get to watch it. Thanks for the review and thoughts – also not letting the cat out of the bag!! Cheers Hilary

  • lisa thomson

    This was a wonderful movie, Deb. I love your review. One of the things that stood out was the age of the couple put Joan in college around early 60’s. Maybe as early as the late 50’s, so it is a time that wasn’t as easy for young women to lead the way. Not saying that’s why she gave up her own writing. She certainly loved Joe but I’d venture to say he did not truly love her, even in the beginning. It was more about her writing skill and what she could do for him. The constant affairs too! Joe was quite a loathsome character in my opinion. He was unable to show love to her or their son (probably the daughter too). But he NEEDED them to boost his image. 😛

    Anyway, it was a great movie. I didn’t read the book and hadn’t even heard of the author. My bad. I will be picking up a novel of hers to read now.

    Love a movie review once in a while. I’m finalizing my Big Little Lies Season 2 review to post on my blog. We’re thinking same way, Deb. Have a great week!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much for leaving your insight here on the movie. Exactly why reviews are interesting to read, to learn what someone else got from the movie or book. I agree with all you said btw. But it’s interesting to hear people’s perspectives on characters. And I look forward to your Big Little Lies review!!! <3 Happy week to you Lis xx

  • Christy B

    I’m a big Glenn Close fan but somehow missed this one! Any movie where the characters are writers are ones that appeal to me lol. I like how you did a movie instead of a book this time (although it still totally ties in because the film is based on a book). Sharing your stellar review now 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Thanks my Lovely. So glad this caught your attention, because I missed it too! A definitely must see! Thanks for sharing, and do let me know your thoughts after you see it! <3

  • Deborah Jay

    Ooh, I’ve not even heard of this, but it sounds fascinating, and right up any writer’s street!
    I will take a look for the movie, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    • dgkaye

      Happy to share Deb. And like I just mentioned to Carol, I’m astounded that I’m in good writer company who hadn’t yet seen the movie. Do let me know what you think after you’ve seen it! <3

  • Carol Balawyder

    I love novels that have writers as characters (wonder why?). This book and movie sound wonderful and is already on my TBR list. Thanks for this review, Debby, and bringing the book to my attention. I am currently reading a fantastic novel which has two writers as main characters. The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair. It’s a translation from French, won many awards, and the author, Joel Dicker is Swiss. That it’s a very lengthy book – almost 700 pages – is a good thing because I don’t want it to end and am always anticipating going back to it. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. It’s also been made into a mini series. One of the many things I like about it is all the talk about the process of writing and writer’s block. But there’s also a love story and a murder.
    Back to The Wife. This book also attracts me because I love novels about romantic relationships and marriage. This one sounds like a real winner! I can imagine Glenn Close being just right for the part.

    • dgkaye

      Oh, thanks for the recommend Carol. You say there is a mini series about the Quebert story? Surprised I never heard of, but sure to check out the book with your recommend, since we do often enjoy same books. 🙂 And glad I could enlighten you about The Wife. Surprised to learn from quite a few here that they too hadn’t read or seen the movie yet. Let me know what you think! Close never disappoints! <3

  • Marian Beaman

    Marian’s back. How do you see the movie? In the theatre? Through a video service? In the States, The Wife is available only through Starz. I’m already subscribed to 3 other services, so I don’t want to add Starz right now. Any suggestions?

    • dgkaye

      Welcome back Marian – ‘author’, lol. Okay, so I believe the movie was in the theater last year (ish). I have HBO channels here where I get dramatic series, movies and documentaries. Sorry, I’m not sure about your TV listings, but I know all the times I’ve gone to U.S. for holidays, I watched my shows from home on HBO there. Maybe they’ve changed HBO to a different name there? If all else fails, you can always buy the movie, it’s certainly the kind of movie you could watch more than once and still take something from. 🙂 x

  • Annika Perry

    Debby, I love the sound of the film and can’t wait to see it! Or should I read the book first, which is what I usually try to do! This sounds perfect for all writers! I’ve considered whether to write occasional reviews of movies that have touched me recently … you’ve given me the encouragement with yours to do just that at some stage! Hope you’re having a great week, Debby. 😀🌸

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Annika! Glad to inspire you. Yes, I think movie reviews are fun. Sadly, I don’t watch as many as I used to, so I was a bit late watching this one. I should think the book would be fab, seeing as how well done the movie was, so your choice. Now I look forward to reading some movie reviews from you. 🙂 <3

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Sounds a good film, one to look out for, and good book, and no I don’t think I could write under anyone else’s name either.. I can understand how the resentment would set it given her background.
    <3

  • Liesbet

    Great recommendation, Debby. You had me reading your review in suspense, just like you probably watched the unfolding of the movie in suspense! I’m definitely interested in this plot line and fascinating theme and would love to watch the movie one of these months. It sounds really good!

    And, no, I couldn’t do this for my husband. Even though I love him a lot, a situation like this would test every bit of patience and self-worth I have. Someone else taking credit for what you do… mmmm…. Although, it seems like this situation was agreed upon, there are limits to it, obviously. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hi Liesbet. Thanks for chiming in. I don’t think any writer we know would feel right about giving up our name on our work. But as you will see when the story backflashes to Joan’s past, it’s easy to see how it would have begun with good intentions to ‘help out’ until it slowly turns into her taking over and only realizing what she created when the award came. Let me know your thoughts when you watch it one day. 🙂 x

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