The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin
I never got around to watching either film version of The Stepford Wives, and I don’t think I knew it was a book for a long time. But I already knew what it was about. You already know what it’s about. The Stepford Wives presents a horror concept so effective that it slipped easily into our cultural lexicon. Before Ira Levin, we didn’t have a term for a woman so eerily and mindlessly subservient to house, home, and husband. And now, we have Stepford wives.
Frankly, since Stepford has been a part of mainstream slang for about forty years now, reading it didn’t bring me a new perspective or add much depth. It’s a straightforward thriller. Joanna Eberhart, women’s libber and professional photographer, moves to a town where the impossibly beautiful women have no interests beyond servicing their husbands. Joanna’s fear ramps up as the “normal” women around her succumb to this brainwashed state, and it all ends just as ominously as we expect.
But the execution is excellent. The plot’s familiarity didn’t stop agreeable shivers from running down my spine. It didn’t stop me thinking, “Joanna, don’t go in there!!!” even though she couldn’t hear me. The writing is tight with well-placed adjectives. It’s worth charging through this staple of American horror.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.