The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin (25 August)

I needed to take a break from Calamity Physics − it’s pretty long and even though I’m halfway through I’m still not entirely sure what the book is about − so I decided to take a quick romp through the 1970s. This book, at only 145 pages, didn’t take very long to read and was pretty entertaining.

I’ve seen both of the Stepford Wives movies and they’re pretty different, so I wanted to know just what the book was about. If you haven’t seen them, what we have here is a town called Stepford wherein all of the wives are subservient and domestic, convinced that their only purpose in life is to keep the house clean for their husbands. New arrivals Joanna and Walter Eberhart are part of the women’s-lib movement and, once they realize the dominance of the men’s club in town, plan to convert the husbands over to their side and open up the association to women as well. Joanna makes friends with a couple of other independent women, Bobbie and Charmaine, and they try to gather the wives of the town into a women’s club, with no luck.

Soon after Charmaine spends a weekend alone with her husband, she becomes one of the Stepford wives herself and Bobbie and Joanna worry for their safety. Their husbands reassure them that nothing’s wrong, but something very clearly is.

The book is really a lot more vague than I thought it would be − I ended up filling in a lot of blanks with scenes I remembered from the movies. It probably would have been better had I read this first and filled those blanks in on my own. The ending of the book is much more open-ended than those of the movies, but it’s still quite sinister. I like the fact that Levin leaves these things open to interpretation, but I wish I didn’t already have some interpretations in my head.

Rating: 7/10

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