I did enjoy this book - even though I rather suspected the twist in the tale less than half way through. It's a warm-hearted book, full of likeable characters, especially Alice - the Wife 22 of the title
- struggling to make sense of life, marriage, children, job and ambition. On the back of the book there is a quote describing it as "a wonderfully clever, sad and funny read." I am inclined to agree.
Alice's mother died when she was 45 and Alice herself is approaching this landmark birthday. She refers to it as her "tipping point year", the time when she becomes the same age her mother was when she died. It has made her
reflect on her life as wife to William, mother to Peter and Zoe, drama teacher to the youngsters at Kentwood Elementary School. When an invitation appears in her in-box to take part in a major survey on married life, she is sufficiently intrigued
to accept. So she becomes "Wife 22" in the anonymised terms of the research centre, responding to a stream of questions asked by "Researcher 101." As Alice's answers become more and more honest and detailed, the reationship between researcher and subject
develops into something much deeper.
There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in the book and some very well-drawn pictures of family life. I loved Alice the mother,
particularly her relationship with son Peter. Alongside the humour are some poignant scenes as Alice recounts the early days of her relationship with William and meets up with a group of friends who all lost their mothers as children.
The book is peopled by an excellent cast of supporting characters, from best friend Nedra to the appalling mother of one of the children Alice teaches. Only William remains a bit of a mystery, coming alive through the passages
in Alice's responses to Researcher 101's questions.
I felt for Alice the writer, who lost her way as a playwright when she suffered biting reviews to her first stage play. Through her answers to the
survey, Wife 22 finds her writing talent again. But what about her marriage?
I won't spoil the ending!