Gulliver’s Wife by Lauren Chater

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Simon & Schuster 3. The cover of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Published 1999 Macmillan and Co. (first published November 1726) 4. Compass-map [CC0 Public Domain] via pxhere 5. Detail from “The Attentive Nurse” by Jean Siméon Chardin [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
Characters and setting are richly imagined, and realistically brought to life..

Lemuel Gulliver is the main character in the 18th Century stories of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Wife”, Lauren Chater imagines his wife’s story, in which she is working as a midwife, and looking after her family when Gulliver doesn’t return from his voyage, and is presumed dead. After several years, he returns with crazy stories of strange lands that he’s visited. The family is thrown into chaos as he becomes more and more unpredictable.

“What she learned from his strange ramblings was this: cast away with no hope of rescue, he was taken in by a race of tiny people who first imprisoned then released him, on the condition he act as emissary and broker peace between them and their warring neighbours.”

“Looking around the room, she sees only evidence of her husband. Like the chair sitting incongruously in her parlour, it’s as if her life has been erased by his return.”

~Quotes from “Gulliver’s Wife” by Lauren Chater
  • Better Reading: “Impressive, wise and utterly enthralling.”
  • Newtown Review of Books: “This is probably not a book to be taken in large doses, unless you have built up a solid immunity to misery and gross inequality. But this is life three centuries ago, not life today. And for all of our imperfections and problems, we live in a world so much better than anything Mary Gulliver or her contemporaries could possibly have imagined. Which must lead you to wonder how much more we might improve by the year 2320. And that must be a reason for hope.”

Author: Lauren Chater

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