Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Stepford Wives: Stepford is out of step

I finally read The Stepford Wives after finding a copy for sale during one of my I'll-just-stop-in-to-browse-but-I-don't-actually-need-anything trips to the Strand.

You know what's frightening? How relevant the book is today. I don't know why, but I wasn't really expecting that to be the case (despite knowing the story and existing in the present day).

For the few of you who don't know the story (from the book, or the '75 movie , or even the 2004 movie) here's a quick synopsis: Joanna and Walter Eberhart (both very interested in the Women's Liberation movement), and their two children, move from NYC to the Connecticut suburbs, landing in the town of Stepford where the homes are beautiful, and everyone seems so welcoming and...well, perfect.

All of the wives in the town seem happy to clean their homes and cook and tend to their husbands. The husbands have their own men's only club, which Walter assures Joanna is just a throw back being held up by a few of the older members, but many of the younger husbands talk about allowing women to join. But really, nothing interesting is happening up there.

But something is off. It's hard for Joanna to put her finger on exactly what it is. Maybe these women just prefer keeping house to the (long disbanded) women's club. Maybe priorities shift when you're in the suburbs and all of this is just normal.

Levin is a master at building tension and making you question what's really going on (even if you already KNOW what's going on). Joanna second-guesses her self, questions what's in front of her eyes. And the children in town seem to like their new moms, who prefer to dote on them instead of following their own pursuits. The men, too, go from perhaps a little odd and old fashioned, preferring their wives stay at home, to quietly menacing and it's difficult to pinpoint exactly when the change happens.

Who knew one of my favorite reads of the year would be a story I thought I knew already?

Gif rating:
and also some of this
Levin, Ira. The Stepford Wives. Corsair, 2011. Originally published 1972