#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:
Perfect 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.
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.’
‘Discontent choked her far more than any smoke could.’
‘… 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.
5 STARS: IT WAS AMAZING! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! — Highly Recommended.
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 …
I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂