Reviewed by Melanie Kline

Alice Buckle was bored with her life. This is not to say that she was unhappy with her children, Zoe and Peter, or wanted out of her marriage with her husband, William, or even disliked her job as a drama teacher. Alice was just tired of the seemingly endless rut she felt she had been in for years. So when an invitation to participate in an online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” arrived in her inbox, she jumped at the opportunity. It had much less to do with the $1,000 she was to earn at the end of the survey as it was about just doing something different.

Wife 22 was very entertaining because not only are the questions out of order, but the reader never even sees the question – only Alice’s response to them. (There is however, an appendix in the back of the book listing the questions. I did not find this until the end of the story since I never look at the ending before I get to it.) Personally I think that not knowing the questions, only the answers, made this a much better book.

Alice is assigned a pseudonym of Wife 22, a case worker called Researcher 101 and the study begins innocently enough. Wife 22 finds herself sending Researcher 101 additional email – to change answers, add to answers, etc. and Researcher 101 begins asking additional questions and adding comments. Suddenly they find themselves in a friendship bordering on something more.

Things begin to escalate fairly quickly between Wife 22 and Researcher 101 after Alice’s husband loses his job and everything else in her life seems to take a downward turn.

I was hugely disappointed in the ending of Wife 22. It was a shocker, I never saw it coming at all, but after the way the situation built itself up and evolved – I felt let down at the end.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.