My Wife’s Affair by Nancy Woodruff

Peter works while wife Georgie gives up a career on the stage to work in the home raising their three little boys.  When the family is required to move to the UK for Peter’s job, Georgie finally has the opportunity to reclaim a life of her own, now that all of the children are attending school for at least part of the day.  She starts off by  persuading an old theater friend to get her an audition.  Georgie wins the role of Mrs. Jordan a regency period woman who was similarly employed on the stage, the mother of thirteen children and the lover of a nobleman.

My Wife’s Affair, while not a happy story, is a wonderful novel, and I very much enjoyed contemplating the issues of marital responsibility and blame that it sets forth.  The masterful weaving of this tale of marriage gone wrong came out of nowhere and grabbed me – the deceptive simpleness leading to surprising depths still has me thinking of its construction several weeks later.  Woodruff beautifully frames the story by juxtaposing Peter’s perspective of Georgie’s decisions while working on the play that eventually consumes her, and the voice of the subject of the play, Dora Jordan, a woman who also faced hard choices trying to play the role that was required of her by society and the calling dictated by her inner self.

It was fascinating to observe the similarities between the lives of these two women, how they share the same love for their children and the anguish that comes because the time that they spend with them conflicts with their greater career goals.  Georgie reminded me of the modern reader in the way she begins to re-interpret Mrs. Jordan’s character through her particular needs and concerns.

Readers who enjoy contemporary and historical fiction will be delighted at the way Woodruff uniquely blends the two. Both Georgie and Mrs. Jordan’s journeys are compelling.   The prose in My Wife’s Affair is engaging, straightforward and easy to read, and I found that it was not easy to move on to anything else. I read this book in just a few sittings. I loved all the nuances and how the story was brought to its conclusion.  The storyline was resolved yet perfect in its ambiguousness.  I still think about this one and am in awe of Woodruff’s accomplishments.  Truly, this one is for the book clubs.  Lots to discuss.

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