The Meaning of WifeBook - 2004
Cannily juxtaposing the Korean wife schools currently operated by the USO in Seoul with the recent marriage of feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Kingston delves into the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions and realities of contemporary wifehood. She looks at "wife backlash," and the new wave of neo-traditionalism that urges women to marry before their "best-before" date expires.
She muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world's wealthiest and most influential women and, interestingly, non-wives, are beloved by their target audience of wives. She investigates the massive bridal industry, noting the elevation of the bride to a consumer icon--a brilliant marketing twist on the historical role of the bride as an object to be consumed. Exploring the role of the sexualized wife, she talks to Lou Paget, a.k.a. the "Martha Stewart of sex tips." And, in a fascinating discourse on the economic value of being a wife, Kingston thoughtfully weighs the value of a virgin bride and the financial repercussions of divorce. Along the way, she talks to experts and ordinary wives, famous and infamous wives, second wives and trophy wives. The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical and economic commentary, a book that will become one of the most talked about of the season.