The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A short novel, yes, but perfectly paced and plotted, and a nice surprise for those only familiar with the film versions. Levin’s prose is simple and unfussy, and his characterisation of Joanna Eberhart is solid and likeable. The major advantage the book has over at least the original ’70s film adaptation is a surfeit of subtlety; if you’re expecting a shocking visual revelation of the workings behind Stepford, you’ll be disappointed, though this does allow the book to be read as a psychological breakdown in its protagonist rather than a piece of science fiction paranoia - the idea that The Stepford Wives is a feminist study in mental disintegration and social pressure is somehow more disturbing than the more popularly perceived message for which the book (or at least its filmic equivalents) is infamous.
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