Title: Wife in the North
Author: Judith O’Reilly
Release Date: August 4, 2008
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Review: FSB Associates
Rating: **** (out of 5)
From the back cover:
Perhaps it was because she was pregnant and hormones had eaten her brain that Judith O’Reilly was persuaded by her husband to leave London for the northern wilds. But pregnancy hadn’t addled her enough not to have a back-up plan: if life in the country didn’t measure up, the family would return to the city.
Far from home, Judith, a journalist and mother of three young children, discovers just how tough an assignment making a new life is. In the heart of the country, with no dcent coffee in sight, Judith swaps her high heels for rubber boots and media-darlings for evangelical strangers and farmers’ wives in an effort to do that simple thing that women do – have a happy family.
Her headlong foray into the country invites adventure at every turn. As she adjusts to the lay of the land and searches for her own true north in an alien landscape, her story offers a hilarious, heartfelt reflection of how to navigate the challenges and rewards of motherhood, marriage, and family.
As I was perusing other reviews of Wife in the North, I came across more than a few that said the author should stop complaining and make the best of her situation. I think that these readers didn’t understand the point of the book (at least, the point as it was apparent to me). We’d all love to be that person that, when adversity strikes us, we smile and roll up our sleeves without a word of complaint escaping our lips. We don’t want to be the person who becomes more and more miserable as life slowly falls apart. But let’s face it. That is real life.
And that’s what this book is – real life. It is fun and love, but also unhappiness. O’Reilly is literally grieving for her former life; as she begins to let it go, her outlook on life in Northumberland brightens. But the process takes some time, which only seems natural.
I also enjoyed my ability to relate to Wife in the North. No, my husband has never dragged me to live in the countryside and left me there with our three children (and by the way, is it really that hard for O’Reilly’s husband to remember to put gas in the car? Geez!) but I can understand her hurt when she is alone and has no friends to call. I felt her pain when children at school were bullying her son (though I don’t have children). The fact is that this book lays it all bare; the author’s emotions are at the surface of the book, waiting for the reader to partake in them. That emotion invests the reader in the story and propels it forward. It is intimate and fresh, but also very funny.
I enjoyed reading this book in multiple, short sittings. The diary format makes it a great read to keep in your purse or car, reading it on the many occasions you are waiting for something (but don’t read it while driving, that’s just a bad idea in general!). I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys chick lit, women’s fiction or memoirs.