A History of the Wife

Marilyn Yalom

Harper, 2001

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

How did marriage, considered a religious duty in medieval Europe, become a venue for personal fulfillment in contemporary America? How did the notion of romantic love, a novelty in the Middle Ages, become a prerequisite for marriage today? And, if the original purpose of marriage was procreation, what exactly is the purpose of marriage for women now?

Combining "a scholar's rigor and a storyteller's craft"(San Jose Mercury News), distinguished cultural historian Marilyn Yalom charts the evolution of marriage in the Judeo Christian world through the centuries and shows how radically our ideas about marriage have changed.

For any woman who is, has been, or ever will be married, this intellectually vigorous and gripping historical analysis of marriage sheds new light on an institution most people take for granted, and that may, in fact, be experiencing its most convulsive upheaval since the Reformation.

 “The voices of ordinary women speak volumes in this sweeping history of women and marriage in the Western world.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred)
“Yalom focuses on major changes in the marital status quo over time, ending with an intriguing analysis of a role that is still evolving. [History of a Wife] is an engaging good read [and] throughout, Yalom’s savvy and lively narration keeps the reader entertained.”

“Yalom’s sweeping history not only offers a clear overview of the role of the wife over the centuries, but also recounts the experience of specific individuals.”
Los Angeles Times

“MarilynYalom’s brilliant deconstruction of the married state for women is at once reassuring and shocking...it is perfectly fascinating and explains a lot.”
Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce and Le Marriage

“Packed with rich material.”
New York Times Book Review

“A valentine to wives....after reading Yalom’s history, one this is clear: marriage is not for the faint hearted.”
USA Today