Book Review: The Spare Wife

My usual fare of reading material includes books in the science fiction and fantasy genres, as well as mysteries, true crime and the odd historical fiction novel here and there. I also enjoy young adult fiction, but other than that, don’t stray too often from my comfort zone. That’s one big reason that I love to review books – because I get exposed to stories that I would mostly likely otherwise miss out on. One of the most recent books I had the opportunity to read and review is The Spare Wife, by Alex Witchel, and this one definitely fits that description.

What it is:

sparewife The Spare Wife is a story that takes place among the upper echelon of high society in New York City. The characters are all wealthy and well-known in social circles. The title comes from the main character of Ponce Morris, a divorced widow who is as comfortable hanging out with and discussing sports with husbands as she is shopping and entertaining with the wives. The storyline loosely involves Ponce and her best friend, known as Shawsie, and their family, friends – and enemies.

Here’s a synopsis of the book:

Among Manhattan’s glitterati, wealthy divorcée Ponce Morris is a rarity among trophy ex-wives: she’s adored by her female friends for her entertaining elegance and by their husbands for her genuine interest in sports and politics. Indeed, her loudly proclaimed aversion to romance or remarriage makes her the most sought-after companion in town. But when ambitious young editorial assistant Babette Steele catches Ponce in a passionate embrace with happily married Dr. Neil Grossman, fertility doctor to the stars, the possibility of a glitzy magazine scoop exposing Ponce’s hypocrisy seems like Babette’s ticket to media mecca. Siccing everyone from a private eye to her personal trainer on Ponce’s trail, Babette fails to consider the strength of Ponce’s social connections nor her zealous talent for self-preservation.

The Spare Wife was published by Plume (reprint) in January of 2009. The paperback edition is 304 pages.

Thanks to Mother Talk and Mom Central, I received an advance copy of this book to read and review.

Here’s my take on it:

I liked a lot of things about this book, especially the well-written story and how interesting it is to get a glimpse into a world so far removed from my own. The characters are likeable, and it’s easy to relate to them – in my case, especially to Shawsie and her years-long quest to become a mother.

However, there are a few things that bothered me about the book. The cast of characters, introduced during a dinner party at the beginning of the story, is a bit hard to keep track of, and I found myself having to check back and see who people were as I went through the book. I also had a somewhat difficult time following the main storyline, as the point of view changes between several characters as you read through the book. And – not being a social maven myself, I have to admit that the whole world this book takes place in is rather foreign to me and I’m not terribly sure that I like it.

I think I can sum it up best by saying it’s kind of like visiting someplace new that you’re unsure about – it’s a lot of fun to visit, but I don’t think I’d want to live there.  :)  This is a fun book to read, and I was kept very interested and guessing as to what would happen right up until the end.

The bottom line:

The Spare Wife is an exciting read and a glimpse into a world that most of us have (and will) never experience. From the first dinner party that kicks the story off, during the year or so until the final dinner party that wraps everything up, there are personal and social machinations that have the potential to change the characters’ lives forever. Going along for the ride is a lot of fun.

Where can you find it?:

The Spare Wife can be purchased at any retail location where books are generally sold, or on Amazon. The list price for the paperback edition is $15.00.

This post courtesy of Mother Talk and:
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