The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens – LLMT, Inc., copyright 2009.
Source: Personal Collection – Purchased New
Reason for Reading: I read a great review somewhere, but I can no longer remember where.
For the life of me, I can no longer remember where I heard about this terrific read. I know it was one of the first books I took as a recommendation when I started reading book blogs late last year. Regardless of where I heard about it, I really only have one thing to say about it; I love you Mary Gooch! The Wife’s Tale was something of a special treat for me. Never before have I been able to identify with a character more than I could with Lori Lansens’ hefty, heartbroken protagonist.
On the eve of her silver anniversary, Mary Gooch lays awake listening to her bedside clock. Tick-tock, tick-tock, counting the moments until her husband will arrive home, counting the moments until the much anticipated coronary (surely it must be coming) and counting the moments of her life that have already been lost to misery. When her husband fails to come home one night, the morbidly obese Mary’s world is turned upside down. Amidst her confusion, anxiety and frequent trips to the refrigerator, she tries to convince herself that all is well; Mr. Gooch will come home. When she receives a note from her husband in the mail telling her that he has left her, Mary heads off on the biggest journey of her life, in an attempt to recapture the heart and mind of a man whose love she has for so long taken for granted. On her journey she will find so much more; her husband’s leaving will become the catalyst for a life-altering transformation in which Mary will unwittingly shed everything of the world she has known.
When I finished The Wife’s Tale, I was left with a sense of awe. I have never before felt that another person had any idea what it was like to be trapped in my mind and body. Lori Lansen did a seamless job of crawling into the mind of a fat person and exposing the collective psyche of the morbidly obese.
“She had thought one sleepless night, without a ladle of self-pity, that she was, quite literally, the elephant in the room. Her body seemed more illusory for the secrecy surrounding it. Her real weight? Her true size? Only she knew. Hiding food. Eating in private. Feeding the hungry body to which she’d been assigned, abiding with the frantic energy of want and want more.” The Wife’s Tale, page 25.
While large parts of the story are taken up by the goings on in Mary’s head, the foray into her mind does not come at the cost of plot. What it does do, is aid Lansens in creating some particularly well rounded characters who are anything but artificial.
I smiled, I laughed and I quite nearly cried. The full-of-figure will share a deep rapport with Mary while others will marvel at the desperation and helplessness of those stuck in the unbreakable cycle of overeating. While I didn’t much care for the end of Lansens’ story, which was a little too neat for my tastes, it did little to dampen my enthusiasm for this remarkable tale of profound loss and pronounced personal gain.
RATING: Hard to Bleat