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Monday, March 12, 2007

one thing leads to another

On Friday, I mentioned that I'd found Amanda Craig's site in an odd way. O.K. -- here is the attempt to explain how I started out by searching for information about The Surrendered Wife (!?)...

My daughter was asked to take part in a book club discussion that was going to be filmed for a documentary. The book was The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle. (Have you heard of it? I had not, but after my conversation with Amelia, I immediately began Googling.)

Dear Daughter read the book and approached the meeting ready for a lively discussion, and please believe me, Dear Daughter is NOT a surrendered wife. Evidently, she first tried to be pleasant, but... she can get out of hand. When it became evident that even her friends who had laughed at the book, changed their tunes in front of the camera, Amelia became... well, more aggressive. At one point, they stopped the cameras, sat down beside her and asked her if she understood what the documentary was about. Obviously, she did not.

"You mean I'm not supposed to give my opinion?"

"Certainly, you can give your opinion, but do you understand what this is about?"

By the time the cameras were ready to roll again, Amelia was fuming. (Did I mention that she is NOT a surrendered wife.) She went from commenting that some of the book is common sense to a remark about Stepford Wives. At one point, she said, "Well, I would like to know who was 'servicing' Doyle's husband while she was on book tour." Uh oh. Maybe "servicing" is not the word she used. But you get the idea.

She suspects that they will either edit her out completely or even worse, edit her comments (while she was still trying to be tactful) to make her sound like a surrendered wife.

So...that's the background. I got online and began hunting for information about the book. Mind you, I'm a bit embarrassed that I'd never even heard of a book that made The New York Time's Best Seller list.

And I came across Amanda Craig's article in The Sunday Times (Sept. 2004). Craig's attempts to become "surrendered" confused her husband, then shocked him:

“Oh God,” he says. “You’re pregnant again, aren’t you? You’ve done a Cherie Blair.”

At this point, I confess all. The relief on his face makes him suddenly look ten years younger. He roars with laughter and says, “But I married you for being exactly who you are. I don’t want some stupid woman who agrees with me all the time. I’ll tell you what, though: you can be a surrendered wife today, but only if I can be a surrendered husband tomorrow.”

(had to Google Cherie Blair - who among other things became pregnant again at 45)

From that point, I began reading her other articles and found that I enjoyed them very much. She can criticize without appearing bitter or aggressive. Her book reviews are informative. Her articles interest me on a variety of levels.

There you go. One thing leads to another. From laughing 'til I cried listening to Amelia's version of the "book club" (by the way, this was arranged strictly for the "documentary"), to checking out the the book itself, to the intelligent, intriguing articles of Amanda Craig. I love this kind of journey!

The "documentary" is supposed to air on the BBC in May. Most likely without Amelia.

Oh, and one more thing, if you are interested in the book and can't read, audio programs and seminars are available.


  1. Very interesting post. I haven't heard of this book either. I loved reading about your search and your new discoveries. I'm going to search for Amanda Craig.

    I was sorry your daughter had such a bad experience on the documentary. Glad she is not a surrender wife. Will pass on my applause to her? Let us know the day the documentary will be airing. Would love to watch it.

  2. Just came back from Amanda Craig's site. Loved it when her husband made that comment, "you can be surrender wife today, but only if I can be surrendered husband tomorrow."

    The whole idea of 'surrendered' conjures up images of prisoners, slave, victims and abuse in my mind. I rather think of marriage as co-partners, equals, service, respect. The more I think of this book the more disturbed I am.

  3. Cheya - part of the discussion was that the wife should submit to sex if her husband wants it whether or not she feels like it. Thus, the comment about who surrenders to the husband while the wife is on book tour.

    I'm not sure if the book says that or if that just came about when they were discussing it. Also, the wife should let the husband make all the decisions, drive, and more...but she should always be attractive, passionate, and involved in making her husband happy. I think you are exactly right about the word surrender, both denotation and connotations remind me too much of the women in Palace Walk.

  4. I've tried three times to comment, JenClair, and I think the best thing to say is, "Words fail me..." Which is a good thing upon occasion.

    Bless your daughter for holding her ground!

  5. that is stranger then fiction. it makes me wonder what all the award winning documentarians do themselves... I will have to go and check out her site.

  6. I was totally fascinated by how your search led you on that path...

    It parallels some of what brought me to this blog...

    A writing project on aging led to a google search which led to me reading several different blogs on the topic and you were one of the many commenters on one of those other blogs;

    Now here I am seeing what you have to say on a whole host of topics.

    The book lists grabbed me...I'm an omniverous reader and always interested to see what others have liked (or hated).

  7. You're right, this deserves a post by itself. Enjoyed reading it - and thumbs up for your daughter! No one should be a Surrendered Woman. Are we still in the Dark Ages? D'uh.

  8. Jill - I wish you could hear Amelia, my little raconteur, tell the story. She was somewhere between incensed and amused, and I howled at the picture of her sitting there when they turned the cameras off to explain what the "documentary" was about!

    nessie - I admit to being startled that what was evidently a publicity stunt was billed as a documentary.

    Belladonna - One thing about the web is the ability to take stream-of-consciousness from abstract to concrete. Although I often get lost and have difficulty remembering what started a search, I love the digressions along the way. I'm so glad you found your way here because I went to your blog and am still pondering your lovely essay on aging!

  9. Orpheus - You must have been commenting just as I was replying. It is an interesting concept, isn't it? I'd like to see one of the workshops...and the women who attend. Having just recently watched Water and read Palace Walk, the surrendering of power and of self to another disturbs me.

  10. How I wish I could be in a position where I needed to google Cheri Blair! If you live in the UK you can't miss her, she'd even giving the BBC lenten talks this year.

  11. Ann- notoriety is the thing these days!

  12. The Amanda Craig site is great--thanks for the link. As for the surrendered wife stuff--ugh. No, thanks. Life is too short. Too bad Amelia's comments are going to be edited out. Heaven forbid you get an opposing viewpoint...

  13. Danielle - Life is too short, indeed! Whatever happened to partnership, shared decision-making, equal consideration...