The Wife’s Tale

Publisher: Vintage Canada
It’s the eve of her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and Mary Gooch is waiting for her husband, Jimmy, to come home. But Mary isn’t just waiting for Jimmy. She is waiting for a mother who accepts her, children she is unable to have, a life beyond the well-worn path from her bedroom to the refrigerator. Mary is waiting for her life to start.
As she waits for Jimmy, the night passes into day and it becomes clear that he isn’t coming home. A letter left in the mailbox confirms her worst fears and Mary is left alone to make a difficult decision. Should she break free from her inertia and salvage her marriage? Or is the pull of the familiarity of her home, the predictability of her daily routines, too strong to resist?
For the first time in her life, Mary decides to leave and boards a plane to California. She flies across the country in a desperate attempt to find her husband. The clothes, the marriage, the home that had given her a place to hide for so long are all gone. Mary soon finds that the bright sun and broad vistas of California force her to look up from the pavement, stop waiting and start living. What she finds when she does is an inner strength she’s never felt before. Through it all, Mary not only finds kindred spirits, but reunites with a more intimate stranger no longer sequestered by fear and habit: herself.

From the Hardcover edition.


A Pretty Face

Alone in the evenings, when the light had drained from the slate roof of her small rural home, and when her husband was working late, Mary Gooch would perform a striptease for the stars at the open bedroom window: shifting out of rumpled bottoms, slipping off blousy top, liberating breasts,...
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1. Mary Brody struggles with what she calls her “obeast.” What is her obeast? Beyond the obvious “subcutaneous duvet” she carries, how else does that struggle manifest itself in her life?

2. At one point, Mary admits to hating when she’s described as having a “pretty face....

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"Like short-story queen Alice Munro, to whom she is often compared, Lansens demonstrates a singular gift for discerning both the ordinary and the extraordinary in small-town life and small-town people."
Winnipeg Free Press

"A persuasive, dynamic storyteller, Lansens leads us through flashbacks into the world of a lonely, always-hungry child, who grows into a dutiful, anxious, hungry adult."
The Toronto Star

"[Lansens’s] gift, and it’s to be cherished, is one of deep engagement with her subject, and empathetic involvement that broadens to draw in the reader."
The Globe and Mail

"Heartwarming. . . . It's the urgency of this quest, along with Lansens's great capacity for humour and insight, especially as pertaining to the complex world of human emotions, that makes this book so riveting and compelling. . . . Lansens's equation of middle age with a second chance is a cheeringly attractive proposition."
— The Gazette

"A sensitive but deliciously comic account of Mary’s fight against the ‘obeast’ that has lived inside her since childhood, The Wife’s Tale offers more than self-improvement: there are loving reflections on marriage and family in small-town Ontario, hilarious travelogues about American obsessions . . . of course, there’s plenty of self-discovery too."
The New York Times

From the Hardcover edition.