A Beautiful Young Wife
Translated by Sam Garrett
‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’
Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.
After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.
This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….
On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.
The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.