#BookReview: Well Behaved Wives by Amy Sue Nathan @AmySueNathan

Hi everyone. Today I have a book review for you from an author new to me, Amy Sue Nathan, with a domestic drama set in the 1960s. Here’s my review >>>

About the Book:

60284263Perfect wives, imperfect lives, and upending the rules of behavior in 1960s America.

Law school graduate and newlywed Ruth Applebaum is acclimating to life and marriage in a posh Philadelphia neighborhood. She’ll do almost anything to endear herself to her mother-in-law, who’s already signed up Ruth for etiquette lessons conducted by the impeccably accessorized tutor Lillian Diamond. But Ruth brings something fresh to the small circle of housewives—sharp wit, honesty, and an independent streak that won’t be compromised.

Right away Ruth develops a friendship with the shy Carrie Blum. When Carrie divulges a dark and disturbing secret lurking beneath her seemingly perfect life, Ruth invites Lillian and the Diamond Girls of the etiquette school to finally question the status quo.

Together they form an unbreakable bond and stretch well beyond their comfort zones. For once, they’ll challenge what others expect from them, discover what they expect from themselves, and do whatever it takes to protect one of their own—fine manners be damned.


My Review:


A Historical Issue Still Relevant Today, Sadly

‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’ — I love this opening book quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

From the blurb and the opening quote, I expected a woman who trail blazed her way to forcing change. This isn’t that kind of story. Rather, it’s a quiet, slow read that shows how effective persistence can be. Late in the book, I loved one of the character’s acts of ‘quiet’ defiance. It was the wife’s job to be the husband’s memory (thank goodness hubby doesn’t have to rely on my memory! ha ha), and instead of feeding him the information as she would normally, this character kept telling him, ‘I don’t know’ until he got the message she wasn’t pleased. Loved it!

The characterisation was a bit flat, and the pacing glacial at times, also the writing tends toward passive with filler and filter words in abundance–hence a soft four stars rather than five. Other than that, there were so many things I loved about this read. This gives an accurate portrayal of life for women in the 60s, and sadly, reflects many issues still prevalent today–especially victim blaming.

Here are some lines that stood out for me …

‘To the neighbors, to family, even to wives who should have known better, life fit Lillian like a beautiful dress all the girls envied—but it itched to high heaven underneath.’

And …

‘Discontent choked her far more than any smoke could.’

And …

‘… if a man says something, people believe him. When a woman says something difficult, she’s hormonal, pregnant, or hysterical.’

If you enjoy historical fiction and domestic dramas, you’ll enjoy this book. I’ll be checking out more novels by this author.


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

For anyone interested, here are the Amazon links …

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08B8BDLW1/

US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08B8BDLW1/

I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂 


24 Comments on “#BookReview: Well Behaved Wives by Amy Sue Nathan @AmySueNathan

  1. Hi Harmony. I was curious to read your review, as I believe you may have caught interest about this book from my review not too long ago, lol. I agree with your review. I loved this book, but I’m with you on some of the pacing and filler, yet, I loved this book. <3

    • I read this in early December. If you did inspire me to read it, then thank you. I always love a good reading recommendation! Unless I make notes when adding books to my TBR, I have no chance anymore of remembering whether I came across them from a blog, BookBub, etc., lols 😂 So glad you loved the book, Debby 💕🙂

  2. I’m chuckling at the term ‘historical’ applied to a time in my life when I WAS a young adult, in Mexico, which was always 20-25 years more old-fashioned than the States. I may take a look, just to see if it’s accurate in ways I remember, when I have a bit of time. You look a lot younger – and have a fascinating story.

    Who we are HAS to affect how and what we write.

    • Glad to have given you a chuckle! I was born in 72, so a tad younger! I totally agree on who we are affecting what we write. Thanks for sharing, Alicia 💕🙂

  3. The blurb sounds amazing, Harmony, and I usually don’t gravitate toward this genre. I’m sorry to hear that it was slow at times (filter and filler words certainly contribute to that). But a good story over all is great to hear. I enjoyed the quotes you chose. They give good insight into the writing. Thanks for the review.

  4. This one caught my eye before. I love the idea of the 60s setting. Despite some hiccups it sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing your review, Harmony!

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful review, Harmony. Good to see you enjoyed it in spite of the downsides. This author should hire you as an editor.

  6. This sounds like a powerful story. Shame about the passive writing, but it speaks volumes about the content that you can overlook it to enjoy the work. Thanks for sharing.

    • I love it when the story is good enough to ‘blind’ me to some of the technical stuff. Thanks, Staci 💕🙂

  7. An excellent review, Harmony. I don’t read a lot of fiction in this particular genre, but your review has certainly piqued my interest.

  8. A great review as always Harmony. As enjoyable as the books themselves I’d say. Ever fair and never fawning your opinion is formidable in it’s honesty. If you recommend a book it’s Good. Guaranteed.

    • Oh, David, your words bring me a welcome smile and bolstered heart today. Thank you, my friend 💕🙂