Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel

'All this time she had thought that the most important thing worth having in New York was access -- to power, money, fame. What she hadn't realized until this morning was that you could have something even more valuable: information.

Especially when it was someone else's secret.' (from The Spare Wife, page 144)

In Alex Witchel's The Spare Wife, the title refers to Ponce Morris, a model who married into money, because a pro bono attorney, and inherited her ex-husband's fortune when he died. Since the end of her marriage, she has had no use for romantic relationships, and she earned the nickname "the spare wife" for her attention to the relationships of the wealthy couples she calls friends. Ponce goes shopping with the women and watches sports with the men. She helps them host dinner parties, but she's not considered a threat -- until a young, wannabe journalist without much writing talent discovers Ponce is having an affair with a well-known doctor. Babette Steele thinks she's finally found the story that will propel her to journalistic fame -- Ponce, the New York socialite who's built a reputation of being all things to all people, always there when someone needs her, is really a home-wrecker. Once Ponce learns Babette's plans, she and her friends work to stop Ponce's secret from becoming front page news.

While much of the book is about Ponce, Witchel brings other characters to the forefront: Babette, the girl trying to work her way up in the world without a thought to how her actions impact others; Shawsie, Ponce's best friend, who must balance her willingness to ignore her husband's philandering with her desire to bear children and create a happy family; and Red, Shawie's uncle and Ponce's long-time friend, who emerges from a year-long depression following the death of his wife.

The Spare Wife pulls readers into New York City high society, following the affluent characters from work to dinner parties and other social gatherings to the bedroom. Witchel shows that it's exhausting to be rich and well-known, all the keeping up of appearances, all the preparations associated with dinner parties, all the work to maintain a spotless reputation, all the hoops one has to jump through to reach the top of the social ladder. The book is well written, the plot is well paced, and the characters were interesting enough for me to want to know how they fare in the end. However, my life and the lives of these characters are miles apart, and I couldn't identify with them at all. I didn't really like any of them; I found them to be superficial, hypocritical, and arrogant. I suspect that was the point, but I'm the type of reader who looks to forge any type of connection to the main characters, latch onto any good quality that will make me feel for their plight. Though I wasn't able to find that kind of connection with the characters in The Spare Wife, it was nice to escape the dullness of my own life and tag along with high society for a while.

The Spare Wife also was reviewed by:

Booking Mama

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of The Spare Wife from the publisher for review purposes as part of a MotherTalk blog tour.


Serena said...

Sounds like a good book!

Julie P. said...

Great review! I'm posting mine later this week.

Keyo said...

the title is so catchy! and sounds like a good book too! :)

The Bookworm said...

it does sound interesting, even if you werent able to connect with the main characters.
I have this one in my TBR pile too.

Ana S. said...

I'm not sure if this one's for me, but I enjoyed your review, Anna.

PS: No need to apologize for not having been by my blog as much lately! I really understand that life gets busy sometimes. Truth is, I've been bad at commenting lately myself. Too many blogs I love, too little time!

Blodeuedd said...

Hm, dunno, I too like to connect with the characters, at least on some level, or at least like them
Well, every book deserves a chance :D

Sandy Nawrot said...

This one sounds juicy! I generally like to connect, but not always. I like to see how the other half lives sometimes, and it is fun to read about annoying people! I figure if I just can't stand a character (or the whole lot of them) then the author has done their job!

Staci said...

Loved your review and like you I don't think I could find anything to endearing about that "type" of person.

Unknown said...

I always think it's interesting to read about the lives of people who are so different than I am. I might not want to be like them, but it's interesting to see how they live.

mindy said...

sounds wonderful thanks for the giveaway

scottsgal said...

thanks for the nice giveaway - sounds like a great read

msboatgal at

kathy55439 said...

Sounds like a great book Thank you


sounds like a great book

A Reader said...

Sounds great!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

OH!! This sounds Fantastic!! I really enjoyed the blog about this book. Haven't heard about it before. I would love to be entered to win!


Alaine said...

Great review, I think I would enjoy this book.

Anna said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to comment on my review. I just want to clear up some confusion. This is simply a review of the book. I am not holding a giveaway, and I'm not sure why people are entering when a giveaway wasn't mentioned in the post. Still, I appreciate you all stopping by and hope you come back again! And sorry to disappoint those interested in getting their hands on a copy of the book!

Anna said...

Serena: Feel free to borrow my copy when you're ready to read it.

Julie: I'm looking forward to your review.

Keyomi: The title is what caught my eye!

Naida: Despite not having a connection to the characters, I enjoyed the book.

Nymeth: Thanks!

Blodeuedd: Very true!

Bermudaonion: The plot was very interesting even if the characters weren't my style.

Sandy: I can handle annoying characters sometimes. I guess it just depends on how annoying they are.

Staci: Thanks!

Janel: I agree. I wouldn't want to read books about people just like me, but these characters were just out of reach to me.

Darlene said...

Great review Anna although I'm not sure this would be one for me.

Jenners said...

Great review! It kind of intrigued me and I like reading about stuff like this .. if only to feel better about my life that is nothing like the one in the book! Gotta love those names!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a very great read. Thanks.

Nicole C. said...

This sounds like a book i would really enjoy!!


Ladytink_534 said...

Congrats on your awards (did you know that Blogger has a feature that will remember who your top commenters are?)

Weird about the non-giveaway. Maybe some blogger accidentally wrote a post about a giveaway for that book and posted the wrong link? Or maybe they just saw on your conest thingy: ~April 20: Interview with Susan Higginbotham, author of The Traitor's Wife (with giveaway!)

Anna said...

Dar: Thanks! It definitely was a different book for me. I'm not sorry I read it, though.

Jenners: Those names were hilarious. I was waiting for a Poopsie, but there wasn't one. LOL

Ladytink: I had no idea about that feature. I'll have to look into it. Thanks for letting me know!