Cover Image: The Wife of Willesden

The Wife of Willesden

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Member Reviews

I love everything Zadie Smith touches. Everything. I really enjoyed reading this. I was able to feel like I was watching the production through the text and it made the Wife of Bath totally accessible.  The original is impenetrable to me and so, while I'm glad it's included in the text, I was not able to read it to the end.
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I was so intrigued by this concept - a retelling of The Wife of Bath's Prologue/Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in 21st century London. The Wife of Willesden, named Alvita, is a middle aged London resident of Jamaican origin who has been married 5 times. Like the original, this tale focuses on female sexuality and questions long held notions of chastity, purity, and propriety for women. This was funny and cutting and I would love to see it staged one day.
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A play which Smith accidentally agreed to write, and then found she quite enjoyed it, The Wife of Willesden is a reimagining of Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath, set in the current age and the titular wife, now Alvita, a Jamaican immigrant to the neighbourhood of Willesden in London. This is a funny, hotly feminist, and joyful play. I wasn’t super familiar with The Wife of Bath, and this edition includes the original for comparison. Smith captures the spirit wonderfully in her version, and I’d love to see it live - though she has such excellent stage directions that it’s easy to imagine.
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