Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Four Wives"

Wendy Walker is a former commercial litigator turned stay-at-home-mom turned fiction writer.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, Four Wives, and reported the following:
On page 69 of my novel, Four Wives, we find one of the four main characters in a bit of a muddle. For years, Marie Passeti has been trudging through her suburban existence, first as a higher-powered litigator turned stay-home-mom, and recently as a part-time divorce attorney who tries to do it all. To her vexation, these years in the affluent town of Hunting Ridge, which is fed by the Wall Street jobs in neighboring New York City, have turned her brilliant husband into a weekend golf-addict and she has felt the distance grow between them. Everywhere she turns, she sees images of things that disturb her. Her best friend, Love Welsh, is hiding a secret from her past as she juggles her own three little children. Their outrageously wealthy friend, Gayle Beck, is married to a man who likes to take out his rage on her and their young son, and then there’s Janie Kirk. Having given in to every stereotype, Janie has used surgeries and personal trainers to virtually erase all evidence of the four children she’s borne and this drives Marie close to the edge every time they meet to plan their health clinic fundraiser.

On page 69, Marie is at work preparing her evasive client, Carson Farrell, for a deposition regarding the custody of his remaining three children. The youngest, the baby, died in a tragic accident and now Farrell’s wife wants to keep him away. Sitting beside Marie as she tries to pry Farrell open and learn what really happened that day, is Marie’s new intern, Randy Matthews. He’s young. He’s smart. And he adores Marie for all the things that she had forgotten even existed within her – a sense of humor, a deep caring for her clients, the love for her children which generates guilt every time she leaves for the office, and above all else, a mind, a working, functioning, intelligent mind that Marie’s husband puts to use cleaning up his breakfast but which Randy finds fascinating.

Farrell is dodging the questions again, and Marie is distracted. For the first time in years, she is aware of her every movement, her every word, even how she looks. And despite the unsettled feeling this creates, she is now looking at herself through the eyes of this young man and she is deeply provoked by what she sees. Everything changed when her family moved from the city to the suburbs. Her husband’s job, which was demanding from the start, now has a two hour commute as well, leaving Marie with the brunt of the domestic chores and raising their girls. They have fallen into this suburban model where there is a complete division of labor, and yet Marie was driven back to work by her own internal dissatisfaction with life as a stay-home mom. The more she tries to make all of this work, the further she travels from the man she loves and the life they have created together. Randy Matthews could not have arrived at a worse time…

Page 69 of Four Wives is all about Marie. But in many ways, it captures the underlying theme that runs through the stories of every woman in the novel. Four Wives is about women, the choices we make concerning marriage, work and motherhood, and the consequences of those choices as they play out in an affluent suburb. On page 69, Marie is struggling with self-doubt, guilt, a troubled marriage and the giant mirror that Randy Matthews has become for her. Through this journey as a wife and mother, she has become a different person, and yet somewhere inside her is the same woman she’s always been. What unfolds for Marie and her three friends throughout Four Wives will be recognizable to every woman who reads this book, because their stories are grounded in the very real lives we live within the roles we create for ourselves.

“It’s going to be a long fight…,” Marie tells her client at the top of the page. And she is right in more ways than she knows.
Read an excerpt from Four Wives, and learn more about the author and her novel at Wendy Walker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue