Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pathological Loyalty: Review of The Good Wife

"Brilliant in its simplicity." This phrase describes the novel, The Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan, perfectly. The novel has nothing to do with the new show of the same name. The novel, in fact, is about a woman whose husband goes to jail.

What is so amazing about this book is the characterization. O'Nan perfectly captures the main character, Patty, in every way. She is so believable that you feel like you could run into this woman at the grocery store. Everything about her is so inexorably real.

Due to her genuine humanness, I found myself caring about her and also frustrated with her as I would have been with a close friend. Part of what makes her so genuinely human is what she chooses to ignore, deny, and not ask, as we all do at one time or another. Her blind spots have the reader screaming at her, "Wake up!!"

She is exactly what the title describes, to a pathological degree. The title is simple, reflecting the simplicity of the novel. The novel has the simplicity of language that could be equated to Hemingway's style. However, just like Hemingway, the power of the novel lies not in literary heavy-handedness, but in deep philosophical truths of what it means to be a human being. The novel basically presents Patty, her life, for the reader to make of it what they will.

On my bookmark scale of a 1 (burn after reading) to 10 (worth reading 10 more times), I give this novel a 9.

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