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Wifedom cover art

Wifedom

By: Anna Funder
Narrated by: Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood,Jane Slavin
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Publisher's Summary

Looking for wonder and some reprieve from the everyday, Anna Funder slips into the pages of her hero George Orwell. As she watches him create his writing self, she tries to remember her own…

And when she uncovers his forgotten wife, it’s a revelation. Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s literary brilliance shaped Orwell’s work and her practical nous saved his life. But why – and how – was she written out of the story? Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder recreates the Orwells’ marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and WWII in London. As she rolls up the screen concealing Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer – and what it is to be a wife.

Compelling and utterly original, Wifedom speaks to the unsung work of women everywhere today, while offering a breathtakingly intimate view of one of the most important literary marriages of the 20th century. It is a book that speaks to our present moment as much as it illuminates the past.

Shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards, Non-Fiction

Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize

©2023 Anna Funder. All rights reserved. (P)2023 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

'Simply, a masterpiece. Here, Anna Funder not only re-makes the art of biography, she resurrects a woman in full.' (Geraldine Brooks, bestselling author)

'A sharp, captivating look at a complicated relationship and a resurrection of a vital figure in Orwell’s life.’ (Kirkus Reviews)

‘A virtuoso performance on the theme, adding personal memoir, some fictional reconstructions and a glittering sense of purpose.’ (The New York Times)

What listeners say about Wifedom

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All praise for this monumental work

Beautifully written. Impeccably researched. Compellingly read. A timely feminist treatise. Thank you so much Anna Funder.

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3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The worst book I have read this year

This book is repetitive and very boring. There is a deep undercurrent of bitterness and cynicism. The tone is lecturing and there is no joy or magic in any of the narrative. I have just wasted 4hrs of listening and won't be coming back

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2 people found this helpful

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compelling, painful, brilliant

So gkad I listened to this, rather than attempt to read it The four or is it five different 'voices' make sense of an ambitious blend of history, biography, fiction and memoir. While Wifedom might not have come out as it did without the Me Too movement, it is also a traditional narrative with many highs and lows. I would be lying if I say it is a pleasure to listen to - there is too much human pain described in it for that, That said, I finished listening with genuine admiration for what must have been a colossal task on Amna Funder's part. And the production values are extraordinary.

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2 people found this helpful

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Deeply interesting. A shame inducing look in a patriarchal mirror. Totally brilliant.

I'm no good at reviews. I'll just say I found the book really interesting, and easy to listen to, even if the story was often sad. I wasn't heaps interested in Orwell specifically, and you don't have to be to enjoy the book. In fact, you might enjoy it more if you if you don't have any particular fondness for him at all. The main character of the book is completely fascinating, the story so exciting, and also very sad.

It took me a little bit to get used to female narrators occasionally putting on male voices. It just seemed weird. After a while, I grew to enjoy it, first as a fun part of what is overall a high quality performance, and then somehow as part of the meta-commentary, on how men speak for women all of the time, without even trying to hide it.

I am so grateful to hear this story about the life of a brilliant woman. I was often horrified, equally at the story itself, but also in the likely potential that I shared all of Eileen's husband's more shameful traits, not to mention possessing none of his genius. Luckily for me, I still benefit from a system that means I can get away with it if I have to, and it seems one can borrow the genius of others and still get all the credit if you just call it something like "domestic influence".

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An interesting story well written

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book - much more than I expected. And was surprisingly grief stricken for Eileen at the end.
Will definitely make you think - not only of feminism but the wider framework of patriarchy that continues, often unseen.

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Unfairness to Orwell

Extreme feminism has distorted the character of George Orwell to an enormous degree.
Assumption as to his and others’ motivating forces fantasy. Has the author ever used the subjunctive?
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart” to quote Henry James - and call yourself an objective author, I would add.

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  • Overall
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The depiction on Mrs Orwell

I liked the manner in which the story unfolded and the evidence drawn upon to support the assertions being made.
The insights into George Orwell’s writing and how they were formed, especially that of Animal Farm.
The history lesson that accompanies this story - so often as time goes we miss the detail of events as well as the wider implications- including the widespread fear.
It is written from the perspective of women revealing the underlying patriarchy that prevails then, and still does in some ways today. As a male these are valuable insights which all too often we just don’t see in ourselves.
I thoroughly recommend it to those who have an interest in Orwell’s writing.

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Artistic Cooperation Now Acknowledged

Sensitive well drawn relationship dynamics. The power draining needs of private school boys entitlement education.

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Wifedom

I liked the reading style, it brought the story to life. I particularly liked the natural use of different accents where appropriate.

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The woman behind the man

Thought-provoking - at times confronting regarding how much hasn’t changed, and I fell  in love with Eileen would have loved to have met her

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