I just read a novel called The Wife by Alafair Burke and when recording its completion on Goodreads, I was startled to discover how many books have ‘WIFE’ in the title. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? The question is germane, since my work in progress is tentatively called The Admiral’s Wife.
I was actually quite pleased when I came up with this title. It has a ring to it, I thought. Evocative of a certain sort of woman, possibly conjuring in the mind of readers a bit of scandal as well as something historical. But perhaps the word ‘wife’ also connotes possession, anonymity, and a person of lesser consequence than her husband. As if a woman is only of significance in relation to the man who has married her.
This was true, of course, in days gone by when women were considered chattels or property, creatures to be traded away for some sort of gain regardless of class. Let’s have a look at a few of them:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – a story about Hadley Richardson who marries Ernest Hemingway. There was no doubt about who had the upper hand in that relationship. (Read this one.)
The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison – A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers. This one sounds as if the wife is in charge.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman – set in WWII Poland, the wife in this story helps her husband keep Jews alive by hiding them in various cages of the zoo and keeps alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin – the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her marriage to famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. Anne was initially defined by her husband but ultimately developed her own strength and fame. (READ)
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve – a woman receives word that a plane flown by her husband has exploded and afterwards confronts the secret life he led as she sets out to learn who her husband really was. (READ)
The Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff – the title is a clear indication of how wives are treated in this story about Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church.
There’s The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (READ), The Secret Wife by Gill Paul, The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer, The Silent Wife, The Pocket Wife, The Crane Wife, The Doctor’s Wife, The Senator’s Wife, The Headmaster’s Wife … phew, the list on Goodreads continues for several pages.
Hmmm – just wondering whether I’ve inadvertently stumbled on a cliche for my title. What does this kind of title suggest to you?
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.