The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
Published by HarperCollins on April 26, 2011 (originally 1972)
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg: 3.74 (as of 2019-01-03)
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For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town’s idyllic facade lies a terrible secret — a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.
At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.
An odd medicinal smell soured the air — coming on the breeze at her back. It almost reminded her of something in her childhood, but fell short.
→ What I Liked:
This is a rare instance in which the female characters seem to be more developed than the male characters, and I loved it. They had so much individuality (aside from the Stepford wives of course), whereas the men were defined more by their jobs than anything else. One of the women was even implied to be asexual!
While simplistic in style, the way the story was written was just fantastic. It started off relatively innocuous (even knowing what the ending would be), but built to an incredible climax full of anxiety. He pulls off a similar climb in Rosemary’s Baby, which I also really enjoyed.
→ What I Didn’t Like:
To be fair, this was added later to the book and was not written by Ira Levin. The fact remains, however, that Peter Straub’s introduction was painfully condescending. He went on and on about how the average reader wouldn’t be able to properly appreciate Levin’s writing and how subtle and literary it is. I can appreciate him wanting to explain the nuances of this simplistic writing style, but the way he did it just really rubbed me the wrong way.
While I understand to a certain extent why the ending felt so abrupt, I wish it hadn’t. I felt pretty unsatisfied by it, even though I “get” it. Maybe Peter Straub was right and I just can’t properly appreciate it. 😉
- Well-developed female characters
- Great pacing
- Pretentious foreword (not written by the author)
- Abrupt ending