Would you agree to take part in an anonymous survey on marriage at the same time you were questioning and evaluating the sustainability of your own relationship? This is what Wife 22’s Alice Buckle must evaluate as her decades old marriage seems to hit a brick wall.
Faced with her childrens’ adolescence and their decreased need for her guidance and attention and her husband’s seemingly dismissive and distracted demeanor, she begins to question the very foundation of her life. Becoming a participant in the marriage survey highlights her uneasiness and unsettled feelings rather than providing clarity about where she is headed with her marriage and family.
Cleverly constructed with emails between the survey’s administrator and Alice, these missives soon take on a tone that may appear to be too familiar and friendly. But, the freedom and abandon the survey releases in Alice makes sharing her thoughts with an unknown stranger suddenly liberating and exciting. She becomes the study’s 22th participant which also lends itself to the book’s title.
Many chapters begin with only Alice’s answers to the survey’s questions leaving the reader to guess what the questions were. This amusing literary device is quite effective. It makes the reader assume what they believe the questions to be and they only find out much later what the surprising questions actually are.
Will participating in the survey help or hurt Alice’s marriage? How will her growing attraction with the anonymous survey administrator play out? Melanie Gideon’s modern take on a marriage heading south is a breezy, sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious rendering of one of the most complex relationships known to man. Surprisingly charming, this is one book (and survey) you will want to share with your friends.