Recipe for a Perfect Wife” A Novel by Karma Brown
This is the first book that I have read by Karma Brown; it was certainly interesting and surprising. The novel tells the stories of two marriages and one house in suburban Westchester, New York.
In the present day, Alice has met her husband in a cute way in Central Park and subsequently married. Her life is complicated (no spoilers so I won’t say why) which leads to her reluctantly moving to the suburbs with her seemingly perfect husband Nate. In the earlier time line the story of Nellie, who is married to Richard, is told. The expectations for her are clear but how will Nellie deal with them?
Each chapter begins with either a recipe from the 50s or a quote from a marriage journal. There are also many references to 1950s Ladies Home Journal issues. These definitely enhanced the story.
The book raises questions about the nature of marriage and the roles between women and men. To what extent should a wife strive to be the person her husband wants/ needs? What if the husband is not at all perfect? How far should a woman go to feel free? What do older women have to teach those younger? How important is it to have children? How can one be a friend? How important is it to follow social mores? How much should one lie (if at all) in a marriage? What does it mean to live in the suburbs or the city?
At times I did not “like” some of the characters in this book, yet I commend the author for eliciting responses from me. This book is NOT a lighthearted send up of the 50s or of romantic love. It may, though, raise questions for the reader, making it a good book club choice.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.