The Wife of Willesden
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“Married five times. Mother. Lover. Aunt. Friend.
She plays many roles round here. And never
Scared to tell the whole of her truth, whether
Or not anyone wants to hear it. Wife
Of Willesden: pissed enough to tell her life
Story to whoever has ears and eyes . . .”
In her stage-writing debut, celebrated novelist and essayist Zadie Smith brings to life a comedic and cutting twenty-first century translation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic The Wife of Bath. The Wife of Willesden follows Alvita, a Jamaican-born British woman in her mid-50s, as she tells her life story to a band of strangers in a small pub on the Kilburn High Road. Wearing fake gold chains, dressed in knock-off designer clothes, and speaking in a mixture of London slang and patois, Alvita recalls her five marriages in outrageous, bawdy detail, rewrites her mistakes as triumphs, and shares her beliefs on femininity, sexuality, and misogyny with anyone willing to listen.
A thoughtful reimagining of an unforgettable narrative of female sexual power, written with singular verve and wit, The Wife of Willesden shows why Zadie Smith is one of the sharpest and most versatile writers working today.