Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Good Wife

The Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan was originally published in 2005. My hardcover copy has 312 pages. This is the story of an ordinary woman, Patty Dickerson, a woman whose husband goes to prison for 28 years, leaving her to raise their son and just... survive, all while showing unwavering support for her husband. Patty struggles financially and emotionally, but always, always is the good wife to her incarcerated husband, Tommy. For his part, Tommy doesn't fully recognize the sacrifices Patty has made for him. O'Nan's sparse prose really adds to the tone of The Good Wife. At the beginning of the book there is more detail surrounding Tommy's trial. After that, as the years drag by we feel the bleakness of Patty's life of waiting for Tommy. Patty really is an unsuspecting heroine. Rating: 4.5

Synopsis from cover:
On a clear winter night in upstate New York, two young men break in to a house. Within minutes, an old woman is dead and the house is in flames. Across the country, a phone rings in a darkened bedroom waking a pregnant woman. It's her husband. He wants her to know that he and his friend have gotten themselves into a little trouble. So Patty Dickerson's old life ends and a strange new one begins.

At once a love story and a portrait of a woman discovering her own strength, The Good Wife follows Patty through the twenty-eight years of her husband's incarceration, as she raises their son, navigates a system that has no place for her and braves the scorn of her community. Compassionate and unflinching, The Good Wife illuminates a marriage and a family tested to the limits of endurance.

"Patty's asleep when it begins, waiting for him in the dark." pg. 3

"She has no idea that as she sleeps he's in another woman's bedroom; that a few miles across the fields he and his best friend Gary are fighting with this woman, who's woken from her own solitary sleep and attacked them with the first thing at hand - a glass of water." pg. 4

"Listen, me and Gary got in a little spot tonight. I'm in jail." pg. 9

"Mr. are charged by the State of New York with one count of murder in the second degree - " pg.23

"This part is new to Patty, and she realizes how little Tommy has told her about what actually happened." pg. 51

"She's so messed up over what's happening now that she doesn't see how things could get worse.
"The trial is mesmerizingly dull, an endless church service." pg. 101

"Unfairly, she anticipates the hours of letdown after she passes her stamped hand under the black light, and the guilt she'll feel for leaving him there. Later, in the truck, she doesn't speak, as if a careless word might break the delicate spell that holds them together. It's only when she clears the southern tip of the lake - twenty miles, a suitable period of mourning - that she turns on the radio and discovers, once again, that the rest of the world is still there." pg. 138

"She takes off her gloves and rubs her eyes, using the moment alone to recover, to change into the Patty they know." pg. 159

"She'll sleep, she thinks. The night will pass, if only because it has to." pg. 163

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