Working Girl Reviews is excited to have Four Wives author, Wendy Walker, guestblogging on Monday (Sept. 14) and thought we’d give you some info on her newly released novel Social Lives. Don’t forget to check back for Wendy’s blog post on Monday.
Social Lives ushers in “recession lit”
In Wendy Walker novel, struggling wives take stock of economy, husbands
NEW YORK – Blame it on the collapse of AIG, the Bernie Madoff scandal, or a combination of nasty recession realities. Suddenly, the women’s fiction heroine of old no longer seems to hold her heralded spot at the local bookstore. The celebutantes and shopaholics are no longer confessing – and in fact, the darker realities that plague the wealthy class are gaining more literary attention than their escapist predecessors. With dwindling finances, smaller credit card limits, and consequential marital problems, contemporary readers are more likely to identify with Revolutionary Road than Madison Avenue. Enter recession lit.
“I wanted to look at what happens when everything is lost, but from a woman’s perspective,” says Wendy Walker, author of Social Lives (St. Martin’s Press, September 2009, 978-0-312-36772-5, $24.99). “In many ways, these wealthy social structures are built like a house of cards, particularly for the women who don’t have another deck to play with.”
But as Ruth La Ferla wrote in her August New York Times article, “misfortune can be a fine muse…Once unabashedly focused on the perks of wealth and fame, this spate of new fiction is tackling the recession and its attendant woes,” writes La Ferla, who pointed to Walker’s Social Lives as a prime example.
“We’re hearing a lot about the wives of men like Bernie Madoff. Should they be punished for the crimes of their husbands?” said Walker in a recent interview with British news daily The Independent. “You get a division of labor when a husband is banking so much money on Wall Street: Wives give up their jobs and become professional homemakers and mothers, but these skills have no market value unless they’re attached to a man.”
One such homemaker is Jacqueline Halstead, a character in Social Lives whose husband is being investigated for a Madoff-like scandal. Set in a gilded enclave of Manhattan’s prosperous elite, Social Lives follows Jacqueline and three other women: A billionaire’s wife struggling with her husband’s increasing distance, her teenage daughter wrapped up in sexual scandal, and a wary newcomer afraid of the neighborhood’s suffocating social mandates.
The second novel from Walker, Social Lives is – like her previous work Four Wives (St. Martin’s Press, 2008) – also set in a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood. Only now, the fragilities of her characters echo loudly in today’s headlines and news reports.
“Now, we have this new twist where the husband loses everything and the wife is looking at all she’s done and achieved over decades and realizing that she is still helpless – not only to provide for herself, but for her children as well,” Walker told MediaBistro’s “Galley Cat” blog in an August interview. “It is thus an economic issue, a social issue, and a feminist issue all in one. What could be more interesting for women’s fiction?”
WENDY WALKER is a former commercial litigator and investment banker who now works at home in Connecticut writing and raising her children. She is the author of Four Wives (St. Martin’s Press, 2008), the editor of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms (Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, March 2009), and the editor of the forthcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad, both releasing Spring 2010. For more information, please visit www.wendywalkerbooks.com.