Monday, August 25, 2008
Wife in the North
That sounds like it could be a book about me, doesn't it? I'll bet Judith O'Reilly, author of Wife in the North, is glad she's not a wife in MY north, here in the northernmost part of the US, complete with 8 months of winter. (I mean, the tomatoes are just now turning red, and we'll have a frost within a month.) In any case, Judith O'Reilly was not what you'd call completely thrilled when she and her husband decided to move to Northern England with their three small children. O'Reilly is a city girl, but she agreed to move on a trial basis to give her husband the opportunity to fulfill his dream of living in a small village.
There's a lot in this book that I and other mothers of young children can empathize with. Feeling like a single parent when your spouse is working long hours. Going from career woman to stay-at-home mommy and feeling as though you've lost your identity. Moving to a far-away place where it seems you will never fit in. Parenting your own children when it seems your own parents are beginning to need parenting. The most poignant parts of this book were when O'Reilly discussed the trouble her son had at school with bullying and the struggle she went through to help him. She stood up for him - and wrote about it publicly - at the risk of loosing friends which she did in some cases. The Vicar even asked her to tone it down a bit. I felt admiration for O'Reilly in the way she handled herself and how she helped make school a more welcoming place for her son.
Wife in the North is made of a series of what feel like diary entries and what are, in fact, blog entries. The style of writing took me a while to get used to since it did not flow in a traditional way and felt more 'choppy' than fluid. This prevented me from every really feeling immersed in this story. At times, I also questioned why O'Neill found herself in this position in the first place. Her husband, the full time wage earner in the family continues to work in London, so O'Neill finds herself alone quite a bit which seemed counterproductive. Overall, this was an entertaining book, and is probably of most interest to young mothers, rather than people who are looking to begin a new life in a new place.