The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens (Wordshaker On Line Book Club review)

Mary Gooch’s universe has shrunk to the trail she has worn from her bedroom to the refrigerator.  Disappointment and worry have worn Mary down to not leaving the house, hiding from the world behind food.

On the eve of their silver anniversary Jimmy, Mary’s very attractive athletic husband does not come home.  She is forced for the first time in years to action and she boards a plane alone to search for her husband.  So begins Mary’s to self discovery as she opens her eyes to a world she no longer believed in… only to find herself along the way.


This was our Wordshaker On Line Book Club pick and 24 people (both bloggers and non bloggers) who read Book Journey joined in on this read-a-long.  This was my first experience with Lori Lansen’s writing and I was really impressed with the style in which the book flows.

Of course, the main character Mary gave me mixed feelings.  On one hand you cant help but feel bad for this woman who let her eating go too far.  Yet on the other hand I wanted to shake her out of her slump and get her motivated to make positive changes.  Thanks goodness I was not a character in the book!  I would have been an annoying neighbor that would have asked her to come rollerblading or biking.  :razz:

Yet, author Lori Lansens knew what she was doing when she developed the character of Mary.  As Mary learns to make positive choices for herself – we can’t help but cheer her on.  And yes, Mary throughout the book becomes more and more likable, leaving you at the end a little sad that your time with her is over.

I have not had the opportunity (yet) to read any of Lori Lansen’s other books.  I have heard The Girls is a wonderful read and I look forward to having a chance to enjoy that one soon!

But this is just my thoughts…. here’s is what the Wordshakers thought of the book:

We had a good discussion on how people look and judge those who are obese.  The judgment and labels that are pinned on those who struggle with their weight is maddening.  Degrading.  And you can see why Mary would have chose to stay inside rather than venture into the world any more than she had to.

The discussion over how we felt about Jimmy was intense.  Some understood Jimmy’s reason for going away but others found this to be a cowards way out.  Over all, it did get Mary out of a lifelong slump and if Jimmy had not left, more than likely nothing would have changed.

The majority of the group felt that they would recommend this book to others.  On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best out of the 24 who read it, 7 was the average rating.

Please watch for my upcoming Author Chat with Lori Lansen!

So – if you have read and reviewed this book please add your review to the LINKY below.  I have a very generous giveaway coming up with 9 (yes NINE) signed copies of books by Lori Lansens.  Anyone that shares their review here through linky will automatically get an entry into this giveaway.

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About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on October 6, 2010, in Book Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 46 Comments.

  1. I’ve seen this book around a bit and I think it’s something that I would definitely read. My Wish List is overflowing along with my To Be Read pile LOL!

    I like the fact that something stirred the main character out of her slump. Something got her moving again… Obesity is such a problem in the world today, all the way down to our children. I’m definitely going to be reading this book. Thanks for the review!

    How does one sign up for Worldshakers? Found it on your sidebar… Never-mind! LOL…

    • Hi Deb – glad you are interested in Wordshakers. :) When the next book is chosen I email those who have shown interest in the past to see if they want in on the new read. I have a new form for each new read.

      I should be announcing a new read in the next week.

  2. Oh drat, I missed the discussion, when was it? It sounds, overall, as though the group liked the book a whole lot more than I did. The book had some very good parts. Would I recommend this book? No. Yet, I would like to read one of Lansens’ other works as I have heard great things about her.

    • Jennifer I sent everyone who was signed up this read a Google form to fill out with questions. You were on the list I sent it too (I checked!) :)

      Hope it didn’t go to spam!

      I am curious as to why you would not recommend the book.

      • I felt there were too many inconsistencies and some parts seemed rather unrealistic. However, I did recommend it as a good discussion group pick as I think there are a lot of issues to discuss and clearly I could not do so in my review without giving away the entire story. As I mentioned in my review I think this is a book one will either really enjoy or not enjoy with very few middle of the road.

      • Great thoughts on this Jennifer. I like how you put that – you either really like it – or you really dont. Its not a middle ground read.

  3. My stacks are still huge, but this one sounds like a “must read.” Thanks for sharing, Sheila.

  4. Oh no another one to add to my never ending list.
    Very cute picture of you by the tree!
    Have a great week.
    Joy at Books and Life

  5. Lansens writing has a melancholy feel to it, in both this book and “the Girls.” Although I enjoyed “The Girls” more, I was glad to read this for the bookclub.

  6. I finished reading The Wife’s Tale over a week ago and I still find myself thinking about Mary Gooch. So glad I read it (listened, actually). Thanks for selecting it, Sheila!

  7. I’m losing weight at the moment (28lbs gone so far …) so this is a topic which interests me very much. I’ll have to see if I can find a copy. Thanks for reviewing it.

  8. I very much enjoyed reading this book and I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for Wordshakers, so thank you very much!

  9. I’ll be watching for your author chat – I just loved this book.

  10. I was one of the people that suggested this book for the Oct. book club read, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. It was just an ok book for me.

  11. I have never read this author, but this book sounds intriguing. I can see why you had mixed feelings. On the one hand you feel sorry for the character, but she has it within herself to change things. Interesting.

    • Margie I think it is one of those smart moves by the author to make us dislike the main character in the beginning. It makes me exactly what people do in real life, I judged Mary. I thought she could have done better, she didn’t need to let herself get that way….

      of course… then there would have never been a story :)

  12. This sounds good. Reading the summary wasn’t what I thought it would be.

  13. This book sounds captivating and special. thanks for this review.

  14. I thought that this book was unforgettable and beautifully written.

  15. This book sounds really good. I read The Girls and really loved it.

  16. This is definitely a book I will read. It is kind of sad how much our country focuses on physical appearance. What is really frustrating is how often it is the only criterion by which a person is judged. I have overheard 3rd and 4th graders telling others their age that “you mother is fat.” In this particular case, she wasn’t fat in terms of being obese – a little plump and not the leotard clad member of the beautiful people. A child that age should not be made to feel ashamed of his parent that way. Knowing her, I would leave my child with her (and did) before I would even consider leaving him with the other parent.
    In a way we are partially responsible for people like the character Mary. They are shunned, ridiculed, and treated poorly.
    Is it any wonder they stop getting out and their condition gets worse? Not everyone is strong enough to go out there and take on the world and themselves to make the changes necessary.

  17. Being the type of person that pushed out of slumps, this book sounds very fascinating to me! I also like how the main character becomes stronger throughout her journey!
    Many thanks, Cindi

  18. This is one that I want to make time for in the future.

  19. I love books with a self dicovery story , I would definatly love to read this one : )
    photoquest(at)bellsouth(dot)net

  20. Sorry I didn’t respond to the emailed form. Also that I’m so late getting my own review up. I was having difficulty with this as you’ll see. But the questions you sent did give me an opening or two towards finding something worth sharing about the story. Tho I don’t know if it qualifies as a review.

    I personally found this a profound read. A story that wormed its way under my skin and which I won’t soon shake off. I loved both of Lansens’ other novels but I’m not sure I can say the same for this one. And it isn’t because I disliked it or didn’t enjoy it. Rather it is that the concept of love/hate seems a non sequitor like asking whether you loved or hated your own birth experience or asking Jonah if he loved or hated the whale, or Dorothy whether she loved or hated the tornado that picked her up out of Kansas and dropped her in Oz.

    Reading this story was like crawling inside something at first comforting like the familiar which fast became dark and dank and was then buffeted by wind and wave until torn away to reveal a nightmare. I guess if one prefers one’s stories to remain a comforting and familiar or escapist entertainment (none of which I’m decrying here) this would not suit.

    • Joy this is very well written and I will be interested in seeing your review.
      No worries about being late, life happens. :) I hope you link your review up to the linky.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  21. I haven’t read anything by Lori Lansens but I do like the sound of this one.

  22. I wanted very badly to read this book, and then was hugely disappointed. I could not shake the feeling that Lori Lansens abhorred and was repulsed by Mary. Her descriptions of Mary’s emotions and physical movements were really offensive and cruel, & her suggestion of the manner in which Mary managed to lose the weight & keep it off for a time was beyond ridiculous, insulting, and disgusting.

    Overall, Lansens did a disservice to readers by contributing to the stereotype of overweight women as stupid, slovenly, lazy, and incapable of effectively managing their lives.

    The story meandered but seemed like it would never end. Who do I see about getting the hours of my life back that I wasted on reading it? After all, I could have spent those hours in water aerobics class working on my own weight management issues.

    My review is here:

    http://www.jhsiess.com/?p=4468

    JHS
    Colloquium

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