Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: "The Stepford Wives" by Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives Ira Levin
Published: 1972
ISBN: 9780060080846
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Source: Postal Book Club

You might enjoy this book if you enjoy: books about women's rights, satire, creepy stuff, not ever having seen the movie version of this book.

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret -- a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.

My Thoughts:
I kind of want to scream instead of write this review.  I'm in a hard position here...I have issues and problems, but they aren't with this book--the book itself is quite good.  The problem is that, several years ago, I saw a movie version of this book (the one with Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick) which greatly and negatively impacted my experience reading this book.

The story itself is well-known, at least in a broad sense (I think the 45 and younger crowd may only be familiar with the general slang term of "Stepford Wife" as a seemingly perfect trophy wife).  Levin does an excellent multitasking job of providing satire and creepiness. The story begins with an air of normality, but it isn't long before things start to tun, and Levin handles that beautifully as well.  There is no big "a-ha" moment, just little details that begin to add up.

Joanna is a great character, and one I think many can relate to.  She wasn't so sure about moving to Stepford in the first place, but tries to make the best of least until things start turning south.  She is also struggling with her role--while she loves her family, she isn't so sure about the "traditional" role Her husband, Walter, seems nice enough....but Levin doesn't develop him as much. This, though, I think is more a device of the story.

So, now here are my not-really-the-book's-problems.  Part of what is so creepy about this book is that there are things that no one talks about and there is an element of mystery.  But I've seen the movie.  The movie, by the way, was a special kind of horrible and, if you haven't seen it, just don't.  Still, the movie explained things that Levin consciously did not--and because of that, the foundation of this book was blown for me before I even started the first page.

In short, if you have not seen the movie, this is a fabulous read.  It's fairly short, so it shouldn't be daunting to anyone.  And I think it will creep you out.  However, if you've seen the movie...well, I'm sorry.  Not only did you have 2 hours of your life taken from you, but a great book was ruined for you before you ever had a chance to read it.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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