Book Review: Wifey


Judy Blume

Berkley Trade

304 pages

Judy Blume was one of my all time favorite authors as an adolescent.  I started off with the Fudge books and as I got older, moved onto Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret and Deenie.  However, there it stopped.  I was aware at some point that Blume had written a few adult books, but I never read them.  Maybe I was afraid that Blume wouldn’t be able to reach an adult reader.  But then I found the Shelf Discovery challenge, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama, and one of the books mentioned in there was Wifey.

Wifey is the story of Sandy Pressman; a younger mother dealing with the monotony of marriage during the 1960s.  She is married to Norm Pressman, a straight laced guy that is difficult to talk to and who prefers sleeping in his own twin bed.  It’s summertime and Sandy ’s two children are away at camp, so she is alone all day while Norm is at work.  She attempts to involve herself in the country club, but becomes more and more distant as the summer goes on.  She is unhappy in her marriage and eventually strays numerous times (some of the men she chose to bed really shocked me due to Sandy ’s lack of boundaries), most notably with her old flame.  Wifey is mainly about Sandy ’s exploration of her marriage and sexuality and how she comes to terms with the life she chose for herself.

This book is much more sexually explicit than I would have imagined.  Obviously, when you’re dealing with a marriage, sex is going to be an important factor.  It seemed that most of Sandy ’s issues with Norm were related to sex.  I think for Sandy , the lack of sexual satisfaction just kept eating away at her until she was unable to finding any positive aspect with her marriage.  She went through quite a few sexual encounters over the summer that Wifey focused on, and she realized that having an erotic relationship with other men didn’t feel that void that she had in her marriage.  Once she got her that aspect of her marriage worked out with Norm, it seemed like everything else in her marriage fell into place.

The time period had a lot to do with why Sandy felt trapped and had such problems with her marriage.  Much like Blume herself, she was pressured into marrying young and having children.  She never really got any freedom, sexually or otherwise, so as her marriage got more and more routine, she became listless and was infected with “the grass is always greener” syndrome. In that respect, I feel like Norm took the brunt of the blame.  He wasn’t a particularly likeable character—very dry and one-dimensional—but I have a feeling that was just Sandy’s perception of him at the time and didn’t necessarily reflect what type of person and husband Norm was.

I would say Blume’s adolescent tendencies shine through—Wifey is maybe a bit more simplistic than other novels dealing with the same subject matter.  At the same time, it made the book much more readable, so it wasn’t a detractor at all.  I read the entire book in one sitting and was completely engaged the entire time.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.  I think there were parts that were a little too raunchy, but I keep asking myself if I was just put off because of who the author is.  If it were an author I were unfamiliar with, would the sexual scenes still bother me?  Probably not.  If you are a fan of Judy Blume, you can’t miss this one.

Stop on over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog to enter her Judy Blume/Shelf Discovery mini challenge.

Other Reviews:

You’ve GOTTA read this!

I borrowed this book from my local library.

8 Responses

  1. I’ve only read one Judy Blume book and I really enjoyed it, so I should read more. This one sounds good to me. Thanks for mentioning the mini-challenge – I hope you’ll add your review to Mr. Linky.

  2. I loved Judy Blume’s books as a child and was excited to see her adult titles come out – so far, i have only read Summer Sisters but this one sounds good too – thanks for your review!

  3. I just picked this one up from the library! Maybe I’ll start it today since I’m snowed in! I missed out on this one when I was younger but I do remember the controversy surrounding it.

  4. Like Julie I missed out on the one when I was younger. I think that I had heard of it but I don’t remember there being as much controversy and that may be because I always thought of it as an adult book.

  5. It’s been years since I read Judy Blume and I don’t think I’ve read any of her work for adults. Now I suddenly have a hankering to read her again! Isn’t it amazing how she can write so well for so many age groups? She’s one of the few authors I can think of that you can actually grow up with.

  6. I have this one on my Shelf Discovery list – I remember being shocked by it as a teen!

  7. I never read this one all the way … I read it in secret during babysitting jobs where the wife had a copy! It was quite a “dirty” book for us young girls (and sounds like it still might be.) I remember thrilling when I was able to find “juicy” parts … I’m sure I missed the entire point of the book though!

  8. I’ve never read any of her adult books, either. Unlike Jenners, I didn’t babysit for the right people!

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