The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

First a confession

I will begin with a confession. Before last year I had never heard of the author Ira Levin. I knew of his work; A Kiss Before Dying, Sliver, The Boys from Brazil, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Stepford Wives were all titles that were etched in the back of my mind… Etched there because they were all films that are on my ‘must-see list’. Little did I know back then, that they were also all novels by an author called Ira Levin.

Then one day, as fate would have it, I purchased a book for my Kindle, and up on my computer screen popped that little message that says, “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”, and there was the title The Boys from Brazil. Being an adventurous soul, I quickly read the first couple of pages in a preview, and bought the novel, based solely on the fact that I wanted to see the film. I read The Boys from Brazil in two days, which for me is pretty much as fast as it gets, and since devouring the novel I have also checked the film off of my ‘must-see list’.

And from that fateful day, and my first taste of the novels of Ira Levin, I have been fan of his work, with every one of his novels on my reading list.

The Stepford Wives; a satire of feminism, or a satire of the men who opposed it?

Way back in 1972 when Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives was first published, feminism was front page news. Women were burning their bras, refusing to shave their legs or arm pits, and ‘lady-gardening’ was a term used only by those with a death wish (if it even existed back then). Nobody wanted to be Miss Universe, Playboy bunnies were playthings only to the devil, and men who called themselves ‘old-fashioned’ were scared. Heck, they were downright terrified that the idyllic status quo that they had was about to implode, and that one day they may have to learn to iron a shirt, use a vacuum cleaner or even God forbid, cook their own dinner!

Then along came The Stepford Wives, and those so-called ‘old fashioned’ men breathed a long sigh of relief. “Don’t worry boys, this wonderful man called Ira Levin has written the future, and created the town of Stepford New York. A town where if our wives even hint at joining in with this feminism rubbish, we can kill her and replace her with a pretty painted robot. A pretty painted robot that will cater to our every manly need, mostly cooking, cleaning, looking after the children and of course the most manly need; leaving us men with enough time to go out with the boys!”

The world was saved, hurray! That is until that pesky Joanna Eberhart came along.

Joanna Eberhart, a wife, a mother, a photographer, and a feminist. Joanna Eberhart, who moves her family to Stepford so that she wouldn’t have to raise her children in New York City; a dark and dangerous place for children. Joanna Eberhart, the heroine of Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, who would be the one person who discovers the deep dark truth about the men and women of the town called Stepford. That Joanna Eberhart who by the novella’s end (at only 135 pages it is much to short to be called a novel) would be standing in her friend’s kitchen demanding blood just to prove she is a real woman.

Don’t get me wrong though; The Stepford Wives is not a silly Scooby Doo style mystery for adults. It is a creepy satire about feminism and at the same time a satire about the men who opposed the feminist movement. It is also one of the best books I have read this year, and one that I can recommend to everyone… Well except those men who are still scared by the thought of feminism.

****

The Stepford Wives; the films, 1975 classic vs 2004 remake

The original 1975 adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel is a true piece of classic cinema. Made with hardly any special effects, it pulls the audience into the creepy goings-on of Stepford the old-fashioned way, using excellent acting and a pretty decent script. My only gripe would be that it loses the book’s, ‘is she mad, or is something going on?’ a little too early. The closing scene though is a true ‘classic moment’ of the silver screen.

The 2004 re-imagining of The Stepford Wives is one which as a lover of the book I am supposed to come on here and trash the film. I will admit that it is not nearly as good as the original, but then it has been adapted as a comedy.

In my opinion though it isn’t as bad as some would have you believe, there are some moments that will make you chuckle, and the cast is pretty good, but then it isn’t a film I would say you should rush and out see anytime soon… But if it is on the telly one Saturday night, it will kill a bit of time, and you can have a few laughs, even if it is at the expense of the script writers.

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Author: 2Dubya

Like most people one day Wesley will die. Until then though, Wesley spends his days drinking coffee, watching the telly,trying to figure out politics and listening to BBC Radio... and on the days he is at work watching trains under the ground. Away from work he putters around in the kitchen, tends to his fish, watches films and occasionally reads a book, or works in his garden. Wesley is also a keen father to his two little princesses, and a slave to his wife.

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