Friday Reads: The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel Review


I was hoping to finish my current book before today so that I could blog about it instead. Honestly, I am ashamed that it has taken me more than a week to finish this book. It’s not that I dislike it, it is long, or that it just sucks that bad…just my life sucks from the pure crippling exhaustion and too much to do with too few hours in the day.

So instead you get my review of “The Spare Wife” instead. I’ll admit that I maybe was to cranky for this storyline. Take that for what it is worth.

The Spare Wife: A Novel

The Spare Wife: A Novel

Written by:  Alex Witchel
Pages: 304
Ponce Morris is a beautiful, rich widow who’s known as “the spare wife” because she’s the perfect companion to the wealthy, powerful, New York couples in her elite social circle. She throws elegant dinner parties, goes to sports events with the husbands, and shops with the wives. She’s both flawlessly appropriate and coolly nonthreatening-everyone knows Ponce doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body. Over the years, she has managed other people’s lives-and her own-perfectly. Then Babette Seele, an ambitious, aspiring journalist, discovers that Ponce is having an affair with a socially prominent, very married man, and decides to break the scandal, turning Ponce’s carefully calibrated world upside down. Witchel’s sophisticated, witty, sexy satire provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives and loves of upper-class New Yorkers, sharply exposing the foibles of the fabulous.

Here’s the basic plot line: New York Socialite Soap Opera.

I actually thought the premise sounded interesting, with the whole society scene and this woman with the “life of the party” nature. Maybe I just want to feel like the life of the party and interesting instead of just plain sleepy.  I also really like journalism, since that’s my background, so was hoping for a bit of awesome journalism fun.

Going into it, I knew the back flap said that there was a background affair and I was OK with that plot point. Except that the whole group was so incestuous and sleeping with everyone else and I got annoyed. Combine it with Gingrich saying that his affairs made him “normal” and I got a little angry.

And by a little, I mean spitting fire angry.

I have strong personal opinions on infidelity. Let’s just say, you don’t want to cross me on this. However, I can handle the plot point to a certain degree. A story needs conflict. But there comes a point where I just want to punch people in the face and say, “Really?”

I seriously did not like Babette’s character or her attempt to use sexual favors to further her career. I just wanted to grab her by her bitter and nasty throat, shake her, and tell her to take a writing class or three. Maybe that’s the reaction the author wants though, because the character is so completely vile. I cackled with glee as her life blew up in her face and her career burned at her feet.

By the end of the book I had zero sympathy for Ponce, and felt like her character didn’t grow in any way whatsoever. However, I also don’t think the story was really about her even though she was the central character.  I definitely felt the supporting “cast” was the real story.

The character I loved the most was Ponce’s best friend. I wept for her (figuratively), stressed over her, and finally cheered for her. Then cheered for her again.

There are people I’d recommend this book to and then there are people I’d recommend not read this book. It is definitely not for everyone.

Now, I need to finish some books so I have a post for next week! Yikes!  (Plus, I’m getting woefully behind on my reading!)

–Lady O

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