Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom

This book has been on my reading list for quite a while.  I bought it several years ago (probably with some Amazon money) and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since, staring balefully at me.  I'm not the biggest non-fiction reader, but this book appealed to my feminist self, which is, I suspect, why it was on my reading list.  It is a little out of date (published in 2000), but most of the information it covers has remained unchanged, since it is primarily a history book.

Yalom writes about wives throughout history, starting with Biblical wives, taking us through the days of the Greeks and Romans, and ending up with the present day (the year 2000).  It is very well-written, not at all dry, which is always my greatest fear with non-fiction.  Yalom does not talk down to her reader, but neither does she use high-flown language.  She has a nice conversational style which draws the reader in and makes one want to continue reading.

I found the subject matter fascinating.  I'd honestly never given much thought to the specific role of "wife," or how it had changed through the years, so it was interesting to trace the evolution of societal expectations and women's own desires for their lives.  I am a wife, and, like most people, I think I tend to generalize my own experiences to others.  This book made me think about that - we don't all have the same experience, as wives, as mothers, as women.   And I'm glad I learned more about the evolution of the wife throughout history.

Four out of five Whatevers.  Recommended for feminists, especially burgeoning ones.  The book really makes you think about why the feminist movement has such an importance to wives in general.  Also recommended for those who have an interest in social history and/or those who just want to learn more about the way the role of the wife has developed over the years.


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