The Better Half: 8 Tales of Powerful Wives


As the saying goes, "Behind every man, there's a great woman." With this list, we're paying homage to the stories of the wives of real-life famous men, wives of fictional men, and wives who are famous in their own right. These books tell the stories of women who are strong, resilient, and determined to carve out their own space in the world.

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
Joseph is one of America's preeminent novelists, and his wife, Joan, has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career. But Joan has finally decided to stop. This gripping novel flashes back to follow the course of the marriage that brought the couple to this breaking point.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry is a dashing, adventurous librarian who inadvertently travels through time and falls in love with Clare, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Their passionate affair captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and the bonds of time.

Read the review here


The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
This deeply evocative novel imagines Hadley and Ernest Hemingway as they enter the hard-drinking and free-loving life of Paris. As Ernest pours himself into writing, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they've fought so hard for.

Read the review here


The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
The Zookeeper's Wife combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create a fascinating, true-life story. After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Żabiński managed to save more than three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
In 1959, as America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Together the women formed the Astronaut Wives Club, providing one another with support and friendship--a bond that would stand the test of time.

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The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
A breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again. The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places, and the people who defined the American immigrant experience.

The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki
Everyone knows Benedict Arnold as history's most notorious turncoat. But few know of another integral character in this traitorous and history-making plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it--Arnold's wife, Peggy Shippen Arnold.

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
While the atomic bomb was being invented in secret labs by their husbands, this group of wives joined together in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Babies were born, friendships were forged, and children grew up, all while their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.  

See the full list at Off the Shelf, a daily blog that connects great readers with great books.

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