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Article  •  31 August 2023


See what reviewers are saying about Wifedom

‘One of the most startling explorations of life-writing in recent times . . . a genre-bending tour-de-force that resurrects an invisible woman.’

Wifedom by Anna Funder is well and truly having a moment.

While booksellers made the early call that it would be a must-read, it’s the fanatic reaction of readers that has propelled this book into the spotlight. And amongst the many Anna Funder fans out there, reviewers have been delighted by her latest counter-fiction, which centres around the oft-forgotten wife of George Orwell.

Read on to see their praise and learn a little bit about Wifedom. Odds are, you’ll want to grab a copy for yourself!

What reviewers are saying about Wifedom

  • Radical in its outlook and distinguished by a creative writer’s imaginative insights . . . Funder’s evocation of Eileen’s fugitive life haunts this reader’s imagination. It is a spellbinding achievement.
    – Jason Harding, Financial Times
  • Now Anna Funder’s fascinating, furious, inventive biography of Eileen takes us more immersively into the Orwells' world. And Funder is a formidable writer for the job . . . In Wifedom, she blends fiction, biography and autobiography to bring Eileen vividly alive on the page.
    – Alice O’Keeffe, The Times
  • Genre-bending, eye-opening, wonderfully written
    – Fiona Sturgess, I paper
  • Electrifying . . . a genre-melding hybrid that allows Eileen’s likeness to be partially recovered through her own words and the testimonies of those who remembered her, as well as reimagined in fictional passages to flesh out the gaps in the record . . . Wifedom is a vital portrait of a woman whose unseen work was instrumental in the creation of books that became cornerstones of 20th-century literature, the extent of her contribution impossible to measure, obscured as it is by the role of “wife”. – Stephanie Merritt, Observer
  • In this rattlingly fierce book, Anna Funder sets out to unmask the 'wicked magic trick' by which Eileen O’Shaughnessy Blair has been made to disappear . . . readers will be simply thrilled – and shaken – by this passionately partisan act of literary reparation. – Kathryn Hughes, Sunday Times
  • Original and revelatory . . . readers of this angry, spikily written book will be glad to see Eileen brought from the shadows, but it’s the bone-headed selfishness of the author of Nineteen Eighty-Four that they’ll remember most. – John Walsh, Mail on Sunday
  • Anna Funder is a premier-league writer who can roll fiction, reportage, criticism and memoir into glinting prose, her sentences like handheld treasures you keep turning over, admiring for their graceful contours and crafted precision. – Marina Benjamin, Spectator
  • One of the most startling explorations of life-writing (Eileen’s, Orwell’s and Funder’s) in recent times . . . a genre-bending tour-de-force that resurrects an invisible woman, and relitigates the saintly image of the man she called Eric. – Robert McCrum, Independent

Wifedom Anna Funder

Looking for wonder and some reprieve from the everyday, Anna Funder slips into the pages of her hero George Orwell. As she watches him create his writing self, she tries to remember her own…When she uncovers his forgotten wife, it’s a revelation. Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s literary brilliance shaped Orwell’s work and her practical nous saved his life. But why – and how – was she written out of the story?

Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder recreates the Orwells’ marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and WW II in London. As she rolls up the screen concealing Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer – and what it is to be a wife.

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