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Book review: Wifedom by Anna Funder

Maybe it was my super-high expectations that meant that Wifedom was never had a chance.

I absolutely loved Anna Funder’s Stasiland and All That I Am, so I was thrilled to hear that she was about to release another book.

All the signs were good – I was interested in George Orwell, having read Animal Farm and 1984 years ago, and I consider myself to be a feminist.

However, I had a lot of trouble really getting into Wifedom. Many parts were interesting and I finished the book feeling that I knew more about this famous writer and the role of his wife in his literary success.

I usually love a book that is a bit depressing and the role Eileen, Orwell’s wife, was certainly that.

Eileen was highly educated and her letters show how articulate she was. Her ideas fed into Orwell’s books, especially Animal Farm. But biographers of Orwell tend to downplay her significance, or forget her altogether.

It is a worthy task for Funder to bring Eileen to light, and at the same time to highlight all of the other women whose contribution has disappeared from history.

However, somehow, the story didn’t capture me at all. I hate to say it as I’m a believer at heart, but I even got a little tired of all of the references to the patriarchy.

For me this book seemed a little heavy handed and missed the personal note that made All That I Am so moving.

This book reinforced to me that I’m really not a massive fan of non-fiction, and that I have to curb my expectations when it comes to books from my favourite writers.

Regardless, it won’t stop my heading straight to the bookshop when I hear of any other books Funder releases in the future.


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