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The Wives by Simone Gorrindo
Memoir

The Wives

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Simone Gorrindo, on your first book!

by Simone Gorrindo

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Quick take

Movingly exploring friendship, love, and community—this memoir peers into the unique, tight-knit world of army wives.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional

    Emotional

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MarriageIssues

    Marriage issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_War

    War

Synopsis

A captivating memoir that tells the story of one woman’s experience of joining a community of Army wives after leaving her New York City job—a profoundly intimate look at marriage, friendship, and today’s America.

When her new husband joins an elite Army unit, Simone Gorrindo is uprooted from New York City and dropped into Columbus, Georgia—a town so foreign she might as well have landed on the moon. With her husband frequently deployed, Simone is left to find her place in this new world, alone—until she meets the wives.

Gorrindo gives us an intimate look into the inner lives of a remarkable group of women and a tender, unflinching portrait of a marriage. A love story, an unforgettable coming-of-age tale, and a bracing tour of the intractable divisions that plague our country today, The Wives offers a rare and powerful gift: a hopeful stitch in the fabric of a torn America.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Wives.
The Wives

CHAPTER 1

A RAPIDLY DEPLOYABLE COMBAT UNIT

November 2012, Columbus, Georgia

In the photo Andrew had texted, the little brick house looked out of another time. Just call me June Cleaver, I’d captioned the shot when I’d sent it to my oldest friend, Reina. In person, though, the 1940s home looked more like it had been forgotten entirely, the front lawn patchy, no shrubs or flowers bordering the foundation, not even a small porch to sit on. I hadn’t realized that I’d hoped for these things, but I’d lost an apartment next to a reliable subway line in the only city I had ever loved. A porch swing would have softened the blow.

“Maybe we should have gone with base housing?” I asked Andrew, who was standing next to me on our new driveway in the dusk. I didn’t have a driver’s license, had never had a need for one in New York City, so he’d driven all one thousand miles here. Over the course of two days, we’d had six hours of sleep and lukewarm showers at a Motel 6 in southern Virginia, but he looked untouched by exhaustion, his dark hair combed perfectly into place.

“Trust me, at my rank, it would’ve been worse,” he said, rolling up the back door of our U-Haul. “Plus, this place is $700 a month. We get to pocket a little bit of that BAH.” He looked at me with a mischievous grin, the evening light catching the flecks of gold in his green eyes, and I felt a surge of excitement. We were going to live in a house. We had never lived in a house before.

The Army issued you a “basic allowance for housing” to cover rent and utilities, calculating the amount allotted by looking at the cost of living in your area, your rank, and whether you had any dependents. Ours was $1,100 a month. After utilities, we probably wouldn’t be pocketing much. Still, I could not get over this number. $700. That had been my rent for a basement bedroom in Brooklyn when I was twenty-one. My view had been a brick wall.

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Why I love it

I usually prefer to read memoirs by people whose lives are completely different from mine. But at the onset of The Wives, our protagonist Simone Gorrindo’s world bears a lot of similarities to my own: she’s a woman in her late 20s based in New York City who works in book publishing, content with her shoebox apartment. That is, until her world is turned entirely upside down when her husband tells her he’s enlisted in the Army. And that’s where our paths diverge…

The Wives is the story of Gorrindo’s adjustment to life in rural Columbus, Georgia, where her husband is based and where, for months at a time, she has no one but the other Army wives to lean on. She goes to a book club, thrifts cheap furniture to fill her suddenly spacious house, scopes out a local coffee shop that reminds her of home, and struggles to find a renewed sense of purpose in a life so strictly dictated by her husband’s deployment schedule. All the while, she has no way of knowing if he’s safe.

Gorrindo writes with striking emotional honesty. Her loneliness is complicated, as is her relationship with her husband; she undoubtedly loves him, but can’t help but feel her own light has been dimmed for his higher calling. She worries about losing him. She worries about losing herself. The context here is specific, but the underlying question is universal: how much do we give of ourselves to the people we love?

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