The Charmed Wife

Olga Grushin. Putnam, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-08550-9
Grushin (The Dream Life of Sukhanov) delivers a dizzying retelling of “Cinderella,” one in which nothing is as it seems and fairy tale marriages do not end happily ever after. Jane, 13 years into her marriage with Roland, who initially seemed like “absolutely everything a sad young girl with clouds and dreams for feelings could have wished for,” realizes she never loved him. The marriage was merely an escape from her widowed mother—whose love was “disapproving, damaging, demanding” and who told Jane as a child that she was only good at mopping dirty bathroom floors—and her two older sisters whom she believed were her mother’s favorites. Roland, a cruel philanderer, is no fairy tale prince. For revenge, she meets with a witch and sets in motion a curse to kill him, but then settles for a divorce. Jane’s freedom comes at a cost: she exchanges her opulent Fifth Avenue home for a small, roach-infested apartment, and takes a job as a house cleaner for a group of slovenly young women. This clever, sometimes humorous novel drags in places and occasionally suffers from its labyrinthine plot, which includes talking mice who have their own adventures, and Jane’s destabilizing second-guessing of the fantastical elements. For now, the Disney version wins the day. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Assoc. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/13/2020
Release date: 01/12/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-593-08551-6
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