We recently chatted with author Alafair Burke about her new release, The Wife, available now for pre-order on Amazon and available online and in stores on Jan. 23.
What inspired you to write The Wife: A Novel?
While the culture of sexual harassment is finally attracting public attention in a large-scale way, accomplished and respected men have been accused of heinous sexual misconduct for decades. One thing I noticed along the way was that when a man gets catapulted into the spotlight, the public gaze inevitably shifts to include his private partner, his wife. We wonder if she knew, and we begin to make judgments about the kind of woman she must be. The Wife began with this premise: when a married man is accused of sexual misconduct, his wife becomes part of the narrative, no matter how hard she tries not to.
What is Angela’s first impression of Jason when they meet in East Hampton?
When they meet at a mutual friend’s Memorial Day party, Angela is immediately interested in Jason. He is charming, down to earth, and exudes goodness. Most importantly, though, he strikes her as more earnest than the typical summer tourist looking for a seasonal fling. And as much as she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s attracted to him because he’s from a more sophisticated world than her origins. She assumes he’s going to move on from her at some point, but instead, he demonstrates a commitment to establishing a life with her. In time, she trusts him enough to fill him in on her past.
When the two marry, what does it represent for Angela and her son?
Their marriage helps heal a gaping wound from Angela’s past. They become a family, move to the city, and begin a happy life together. Jason becomes a father to Angela’s son, Spencer. She really sees it as a chance to start over—“good and boring,” as she likes to say.
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As Jason’s career takes flight, their lives begin to change. When an intern makes an accusation against him, how does Angela react?
Angela has some experience when it comes to blaming the victim, tracing back to her own dark history and self-blame. The role comes naturally when a new victim comes to her attention, an intern accusing Jason of sexual harassment. She can believe her husband, or she can believe the women—but not both.
When another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with a troubling allegation and then disappears, how is Angela and Jason’s marriage affected?
As allegations mount against Jason, Angela finds herself in an impossible position. If she stands beside her husband, she has made one of two choices: she has dismissed a woman’s severe claim or accepted her husband’s wrongdoing. But if she decides to leave him, she risks exposing secrets that she has worked for years to protect.
Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what can you share with us?
I’m working on the next Ellie Hatcher novel, which will take her back home to Wichita.
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