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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on July 17, 2004
This page turner is not only exciting and well constructed, it contains some of the most beautifully written passages and descriptions I have ever read. I could not put this book down. The plot and character development are incredibly detailed and interesting. But most importantly the book touches on the rights and freedom of women in this country and, in our current politial climate, Brundage, without preaching to us, makes an impressive attempt to show us how precarious these rights are and easily they can be taken away. Anyone who has a daughter, is a daugher or knows someone's daughter should read this book
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on June 26, 2004
Perhaps I'm in danger of becoming one of those cynical single urbanites, but whenever I pick up a novel that starts out with a seemingly perfect couple and their seemingly perfect children, living in a seemingly perfect neighborhood, I want to rub my hands together with glee. You just KNOW it's all going downhill from there. But even this cynical urbanite was surprised by the depths to which Elizabeth Brundage will go with her characters. And THE DOCTOR'S WIFE is all the better for it. Note here: if your book club has gotten too genteel lately and is in need of a good cage-rattling, this is just the novel to do it.
THE DOCTOR'S WIFE is set in upstate New York --- civil, picturesque, well-mannered upstate New York --- and centers on Michael and Annie Knowles, the kind of couple that sits around listening to NPR's soothing, well-modulated liberal voices on Sunday mornings while doing the crossword in the Times; the smell of their toasted designer bagels mingling with the scent of their designer coffee, while their perfect children in Gap chic are playing nearby before rushing off to soccer and other mainstays of suburban life. Michael is a young, extremely busy and successful OB/GYN at a prominent hospital; Annie is a Miss Porter's School-educated college professor who teaches creative writing (naturally). But wait --- is that a rat we smell amidst the Starbucks?
Annie is growing bored being "the doctor's wife," particularly since the Good Doctor is never around. It appears that Doc's bell is being rung these days by Celina James, an old flame who appeals to much more than Michael's libido --- she has a good-sized socio-political agenda wrapped up in the shape of her Women's Health Clinic, the town's only provider of abortions. Celina enlists Michael to help her at the Clinic, and soon Michael's already-limited free time from the hospital is being spent at Celina's clinic. There are no sparks between them these days except professional ones, but clearly he prefers the energy of Celina to Annie's world.
Unfortunately for Michael, the guy who IS around for Annie just happens to be Tall, Brooding, Successful-yet-Misunderstood Suffering Artist-turned-Art-Professor Simon Haas. Never mind that Simon himself is married to the beautiful Lydia Haas, his longtime muse, though she has enough skeletons in her closet to populate a Grateful Dead concert. When the Knowles family starts getting all kinds of anonymous threats, it's not clear at first where they're coming from or why --- are they the work of the Right-Wing Extremists running around town protesting Michael's moonlighting gig, or are these more personal in nature?
What evolves is a novel of psychological suspense that is edgy and compelling. Brundage's sense of plot and timing is impeccable, and she really knows how to hook a reader from the very first chapter. The action starts with a kidnapping and it does not let up from there. The story unfolds with many of the twists coming out of the past.
While her characters were multi-faceted, complex and memorable --- particularly the Haas family --- I confess to being ultimately disappointed in the somewhat black-and-white view she took on the abortion issue. The way the characters are depicted, everyone who feels abortion is wrong is not only half-crazy but leans so far to the "Religious Right" that they're in danger of falling over. Still, enough time and devotion are spent developing all of the primary characters to keep this from being overwhelmingly negative. In fact, even the two-dimensional characters provide ample fodder for discussion.
Surprisingly, this is Brundage's first novel and is sure to be a tough act to follow --- although I for one will be looking forward to seeing her try. Full of suspense, memorable characters and thought-provoking issues, I can pretty much guarantee that THE DOCTOR'S WIFE will be making its rounds for a long time to come.
--- Reviewed by Lourdes Orive
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on May 14, 2016
Someone told me that she had a hard time getting into this book, I on the contrary couldn't put it down. I found it an enjoyable read, frustrating some time with the choices the characters made but then every one does not think like me.
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on July 9, 2004
This is a story about marital infidelity and mental psychosis. That sounds pretty heavy for a good book, but it works. The book centers around two married couples: Simon and Lydia Haas and Michael and Annie Knowles. Their lives intertwine in a shocking and fascinating way. The climax of the book was satisfying and exciting. I kind of stumbled upon this book at the library one day and thought I'd try it. I'm glad I did.
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on September 25, 2011
I consider myself an avid reader and often make my decisions about purchasing a book based on reader review ratings. Though I did not read the reviews but accepted the **** rating to recommend the purchase of this book. This was a big mistake.

I found the story line disjointed, rambling, and opaque in developing the main characters, none of whom seemed to have any depth. The affair between the doctor's wife, Annie and the painter, Simon, which took up most of the book, read like a formula romance novel. The overly descriptive text had me skipping pages.

The only interesting feature of the book for me was the brief spotlight it cast on the never ending moral issue of abortion. The nameless characters we meet in the clinic had their abrupt life stories left untold. They seemed to me to be more real than Dr. Michael, his wife Annie and her lover artist, Simon.

Although Simon's mentally ill wife Lydia, is certainly over the top, she was the glue that held this novel together. So much so that the title would have been more honest as The Artist's Wife. She is afterall on the cover page in her father's house where presumably the story begins.

My recommendation to anyone interested in this book is to head for the local library and save your money. A. MacLean
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on July 11, 2011
I really enjoyed this book. In the first few pages, I was a bit concerned that it was going to be uber-religious and a bit high on the sensationalism scale. But it quickly proved to be a relatable family drama, and as the review states, a psychological thriller. The characters were believable, and the author does a nice job of switching between perspectives without compromising any of the characters' development.

I thought the story built up quite impressively, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on June 30, 2004
A recently published review of this book calls it wooden.
I strongly take issue with the critic and wonder if in fact
he/she read it in its entirety, as it is anything but...
I consider myself a serious reader, preferring to read for
language rather than content. I found this book to be
extremely well crafted, tightly edited, with a strong involving
plot line, nuanced character development, and an imaginative structure
that is neither confusing nor obtuse.
The lovely, occasionally harsh, readily poignant use of language,
informs the complexities of the characters
making them not so dark as much as human,
drenching them in a full range of sincere humanity and all its
Whether on the beach this summer or sitting reflectively
with a pencil underscoring the delicious use of language,
I heartily recommend The Doctor's Wife.
This is an extremely impressive debut novel which
I intend to savor with a second read.
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on June 26, 2004
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on July 23, 2011
What a great read - had trouble putting this book down. There is so much intrigue and suspense and so interesting the way the characters intertwined. This was one of the "look inside" books which I always find so helpful when searching for a new book to read and I can usually tell by the first couple of pages if I am going to like a book and this certainly did not disappoint. I also find reading all the reviews can be depended upon when making a decision to buy a book and as usual I was lead in the right direction. I highly recommend this book.
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on August 18, 2011
Amazon recommended this book to me, and I took a chance - and it paid off! Couldn't put this book down when I started. Brundage has a flair for writing thrillers.

I don't usually read thrillers/mysteries, but I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone. Does have some sexuality, and religious overtones, as well as leaning both far right and left-wing, but that doesn't detract from it, is simply a warning.
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