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The good wife
Stewart O'Nan
Adult Fiction ONAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Patty Dickerson, the resilient heroine of O'Nan's forceful, oddly moving ninth novel, is pregnant with her first child and waiting for her husband, Tommy, on a snowy night in the mid-1970s, when the phone rings. It's Tommy, and he's in jail after a robbery. He's been a thief for some time, a fact Patty has refused to acknowledge. Unfortunately, Tommy's latest escapade involves arson and death. Convicted of murder in the second degree, he receives a sentence of 25 years to life. The main story is Patty's, told in the present tense in quietly lyrical and observant prose: the struggle to make ends meet in an economically depressed upstate New York community, the shame of her son's father being in prison, the frustrating and humiliating treatment the penal system inflicts on prisoners and family alike. In a sense, Patty's life is on semipermanent hold over the 28 years Tommy spends in a correctional facility, but of course it isn't really: her son grows up, she visits her husband as often as she can, she works, mostly at dead-end jobs, and eventually she creates a career for herself. In other words, she makes a life that's both with and without her love. O'Nan (The Night Country) has completely captured Patty Dickerson and her dogged determination to endure in this sad but strangely hopeful story. Agent, David Gernert. (Apr. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Deeply in love with her husband and pregnant with their first child, Patty Dickerson is shocked when Tommy is arrested for murder following a drunken attempted burglary with his best friend. The victim is a blind, elderly woman, and they can't afford a good lawyer, so Tommy is sentenced to 25 years to life. Patty slowly adjusts to a mundane existence, visiting Tommy at the prison in Auburn, NY, raising Casey as well as she can, working at an initially menial job in a nursing home. O'Nan perfectly captures the quiet desperation of lower-middle-class lives centered around drinking beer, rooting for the Buffalo Bills, listening to Fleetwood Mac, and watching banal TV. Never condescending, O'Nan presents Patty's dilemma with great sympathy, but he never manages to make it very interesting. Except for giving the young Patty a pathetic whine, Laural Merlington reads effectively. Such painfully earnest realism is less effective on audio than it is on the page, and completing Patty's journey is a struggle. Not recommended.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Patty
Raises her son as a single mother; moves back in with her nother; endures a series of poorly paid jobs; waits for her husband to get out of jail.

In prison for the death of an elderly woman during his break-in into her house.

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