Saturday, 25 July 2015

Caragh Reviews // The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

Published - 2011
Publisher - Corsair
Format -Paperback
Synopsis - The women of Stepford are not all that they seem...All the beautiful people live in idyllic Stepford, Connecticut, an affluent, suburban Eden populated with successful, satisfied hubbies and beautiful, dutiful wives. For Joanna Eberhart, newly arrived with her husband and two children, it all seems too good to be true - from the sweet Welcome Wagon lady to all those cheerful, friendly faces in the supermarket checkout lines. But just beneath the town's flawless surface, something is sordid and wrong - something abominable with roots in the local Men's Association. And it may already be too late for Joanna to save herself from being devoured by Stepford's hideous perfection.

I'm not sure if there's a single person out there who hasn't somewhat heard of The Stepford Wives! Whether it's the book, a movie version or even just a throwaway comment without really knowing where the term 'Stepford Wife' comes from. I've been a reader since I was born and it was only recently that I read this which is kind of unforgivable really. It's such a short but powerful story - I can definitely see how it's become part of modern culture in so many different ways.

Though i'd known about the book for many years, it was only recently that i'd actually discovered the more tragic aspects of the book, particularly the ending. Whilst reading the book I actually felt empowered a little. Joanna and her husband talk openly about fighting for Women's Rights and are keen to spread the word. Even now in 2015 this is so rare to find in a book! Of course if you know anything about The Stepford Wives, you know that as refreshing as it is, it's also incredibly saddening. 

The Wives of Stepford are perfect. The only things they are interested in is cleaning, organising and caring for the children and men in their lives. Joanna, a free-spirited photographer who is active in the Women's Rights Movement, can't  understand the appeal. As the book continues, stranger things start happening. I think the majority of people wish they were better organised, looked lawless every day, were capable of cleaning the house AND looking after the kids without a hair out of place... but the majority of us are also more interesting in being who we really are. 

That, for me, is the most chilling factor of this book. Not only are women's actions and free-will taken from them by the men in Stepford, but they are no longer even people who have control of their own feelings - if they have feelings at all. Everything about the women is stripped away and only the desire to care for men is remaining. It was really unsettling to read. So many times i've heard the term 'Stepford Wife' but honestly, I don't think i'll be using it in the same context again! 

I could probably talk about this book all day but I don't want to ruin it for those who don't already know what happens. Please do let me know what you think in the comments though! I don't know anyone else who has actually read it. 

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