An Inconvenient Wife Review
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William Carelton came from an unknown background and had to earn his place in society. Marrying Lucy, who belonged to one of the oldest and wealthiest families in 1880s New York, went a long way in securing his place—but then he found himself with a passionate woman he could barely control instead of the docile puppet he wanted.

Lucy Carelton suffers from headaches, midnight yearnings, vague dissatisfaction, and bouts of hysteria, which William calls “fits.” But his greatest problem is with her not acting the way a proper society woman should.

Lucy lives in a time when women are considered inferior to men, and she’s expected to know her place in the home and society. But Lucy longs for the simple pleasure of expressing herself. She doesn’t want to be reined in by society’s restraints. So, breaking from the pressure of controlling her impulses, Lucy finds herself taking laudanum to bring on the blessed darkness so she won’t have to feel the bars around the cage stealing her freedom.

  
 
Desperate to “cure” Lucy, William asks Dr. Victor Seth, a controversial neurologist, to attend her. Through hypnosis and electrotherapy (which isn’t what you think), Lucy seems to get better. She’s calmer and less angry, but she begins to have feelings for her doctor and craves more than just the electrotherapy from him. Unexpected things begin to happen, and her life unfolds to a shocking climax.

At first Victor seems to be a miracle; he discovers that Lucy wants to be cured, but not in the way she or her husband thinks, and he sets out to free Lucy from her own mind. But then he becomes just like everyone else who wanted to control and use Lucy, making her into a creation of his choice and hopefully bringing himself fame in the bargain.

While reading An Inconvenient Wife, I was reminded of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Both deal with love affairs and how men and women of the time were treated differently. Though William was not abusive to Lucy and tried to give her all the comforts of life, he was an inattentive husband who treated her like a valuable painting or a piece of furniture instead of a wife. Her constant “fits” were a source of inconvenience and embarrassment for him, portraying him as a very unloving and unsupportive husband. Though he did seek help for her, he did it for his own selfish reasons.

An Inconvenient Wife is a deeply thought-provoking novel that will have you gasping at the injustices women faced only about a century ago. Ms. Chance brings to life a society you’ll feel a part of to the point of being shocked by Lucy’s actions, even as you’re laughing and applauding her boldness. Though I don't normally read in this genre, I found myself drawn into the story and unable to put it down. It reminded me that all readers should read outside their preferred tastes from time to time—because you never know what gems you might find in the literary world.

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