The Love Wife is Gish Jen's third novel. It examines the relationships among an All-American white woman and her Chinese-American husband, her mother-in-law, and her children. Take a look at the publisher's summary:
Here is Carnegie Wong, second-generation Chinese American warm heart and funny guy. Here is his WASP wife, the delicious "za-za-vavoomy" Blondie. Here are their two adopted Asian daughters, and their half-half bio son. And here is Mama Wong, Carnegie's no-holds-barred mother, who, eternally opposed to his marriage, has arranged from her grave for a mainland Chinese relation to come look after the kids. Is this woman, as Carnegie claims, a nanny? Or is she, as Blondie fears, something else?I read this novel in the summer of 2006; thus I don't remember the details. According to my reading notes, the characters are well developed, and the plot held my attention. However, Blondie is a bit too stereotypically WASP-ish and is not very assertive, which lessened my sympathy for her. On the other hand, the dynamics of the intersecting cultures and generations were interesting. I noted that the ending left me hanging, and not in a particularly good way.
What happens as Carnegie and Blondie try to incorporate the ambiguous new arrival into their already complicated lives is touchingly, brilliantly, intricately told.
When I was writing this post last night, I discovered that there was a Reading Group Guide for the novel. I looked over the questions and realized that The Love Wife would probably make a great book club choice. Jen brings up a number of interesting issues that could generate good discussions. I originally rated the novel a B-, but as a book club choice, I would consider it a solid B or even a B+.
The cover shows the 2004 Random House edition. (Source: bought; see review policy)
The Love Wife at Amazon
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