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April 08, 2024

Review in Haiku: The First Wives Club

By Katrina Stonoff

Three wives plan revenge
on their unfaithful husbands
when friend kills herself.

I read The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith for research because, like my novel East of Jesus, it's dark humor about middle-aged wives getting even with their jerk-husbands. But I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed the story simply as a reader.

I didn't hear anything about this book until it became a Major Motion Picture (yes, I'm a snorting a little just to say that). I thought the movie was hilarious, but I'll admit what I remember most is Goldie Hawn with super puffy lips. Oh, and I'm still fascinated by the idea that she had them injected with water every day for filming (ouch!) rather than risk injecting ... whatever it is women inject into their lips.

First Wives Club, the book, turned out to be a smart, satisfying and textured novel, well worth reading even without A-List movie stars in the title roles.

The First Wives are good women who've helped their husbands build successful lives and businesses -- only to be replaced by younger, hipper, blonder versions of themselves. When one of their compatriots commits suicide, they vow to triumph over the men. Nonviolently, of course. Their schemes to hit the men where it most hurts (no, I don't mean there!) lead to much raunchy hilarity.

The villains (the husbands and new, trophy wives) are a little one-dimensional, and all the protagonists are perhaps a tiny bit too good.

But except for their high socioeconomic lifestyle, these are mostly real women, the kind you meet through PTA. One drinks too much. Another overeats and struggles with her weight. One even has a disabled daughter, a very real-to-life character who happens to have Down syndrome (though this detail didn't make it into the movie if I remember correctly).

Be warned: there's sex, drug use, and lots of colorful language here. But if you don't mind that sort of thing, this is a delightful and empowering romp.

Article © Katrina Stonoff. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-03-02
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