Professor Norman Saylor considered magic nothing more than superstition. Then he learned that his own wife was a practicing sorceress. But he still refuses to accept the truth…that in the secret occult warfare that governs our lives, magic is a matter of life and death. And that unbeknownst to men, every woman knows it. Filmed twice, as Weird Woman (1944) and Burn Witch Burn (1961), this tale of secret witchcraft on a modern college campus is as enjoyable today as the day it was written.
©1943 Estate of Fritz Leiber, Jr. (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Conjure Wife is one of those books that gets better the more you read it. I originally watched the movie adaptation, Burn Witch Burn (or Night of the Eagle) and thought it was great. So I checked out the book and gave it a read - definitely great! Then I purchased the audio book as I was craving to read it again, and I like it even more! Victor Bevine did a good job narrating the novel and kept my interest throughout.
The book follows Norman, a university professor, and his discovery that his wife and the other faculty's wives are all practicing witchcraft in order to progress their husband's careers. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to listening to it again!
I enjoyed Conjure Wife, although I couldn't help thinking as I read it how the author might have made the plot flow differently if he'd written it today. The premise is a fun one, that the faculty wives at a small college are all witches, and their professor husbands don't suspect a thing. One of the husbands stumbles upon the truth, and the way his rational mind deals with the situation was nicely written, and made him easy to relate to. This wasn't a creepy tale, and in fact, it had comedic overtones. I can't help wondering, though, what Fritz Leiber would have done with this tale today, and how he might have woven the supernatural into the modern campus - there would be plenty to work with.
Every woman in the world is a witch.
And not a single man knows it.
At a small New England college professor Norman Saylor and his sensuous wife Tansy live a happy life. One day while idly riffling through some of her belongings he's shocked to find that she's secretly been practicing a form a witch craft behind his back. When he confronts her about it she begs him to let her continue, hinting that she might not be the only woman at the college dabbling in the black arts, and that her spells were only ever meant to help him. Despite protests, Norman forces Tansy to burn all her magical paraphernalia in an attempt to help her overcome what he dubs her "childish psychosis" about charms and magic. Reluctantly Tansy agrees, and as soon as the last charm of protection is fed into the fire, the trouble immediately begins.
There's a lot going on in this story that immediately drew me in. What "Conjure Wife" sometimes lacks in writing, it more than makes up for in theme. The world that Saylor and Tansy inhabit, despite what reader's instinct might other wise say, is instantly believable. You'd think that a world in which every woman in the world has been secretly pulling off spells for the past several thousand years would have something "off" about it, but the fiercely protective and spiteful world of witchcraft hierarchy possess a credible and organic feel to it. Even more so when you take into account that Leiber has chosen to set this particular tale in the already vindictive social world of professor's wives.
But more than all of this, what I found particularly interesting were the ideas of science and gender that Leiber was playing with throughout the book. "Conjure Wife" was written at an interesting time in our nation's history. The atomic bomb has gone off, two world wars had been fought and won, womans lib was coming in a huge wave. One gets the sense that in writing this, Leiber was really trying to write a rallying point for young career aged men to safely explore the inevitable anxieties such social upheavals would have created for the privileged "white male between 18 - 48" set.
And really, can you blame him? Science, and all of its thoroughly modern trappings that had been so lauded as a masculine ideal in the realm of study, had finally begun to lend itself to the creation of horrific weapons capable of destruction beyond imagining. What's more, it was all under man's control, and no heavenly retribution had yet come down from the sky for it. For the first time men were there own gods of destruction - this was shaky new territory at best. It must have seemed terribly cathartic for Leiber, himself an academic, to retreat into a fantasy world that was so dominated by the feminine primitive power.
But I'm digressing. Man I hate that.
The Conjure Wife had a lot more awesome than I expected it to. It's a book in the tradition of the early horror writers that used horror and scifi as a vehicle to explore social anxieties, but it does work remarkably well as an entertaining diversion from the usual witchy type books out there. Recommended.
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
I never read it before , so it was my first experience of this magnificent book.
And for some reason it SCARED me !!!!.
I'm not kidding it gave me the CREEPS !!!!!
this novel actually holds up rather well considering when it was written and i enjoyed it. a modern witchcraft type tale that still works, perhaps not mean and gritty but good. think Witches of Eastwick, or Practical Magic. it's companion piece, Our Lady of Darkness didn't work at all for me however.
Boring, simplistic, and shallow. Maybe better suited as a children's story or YA. Starts out sounding interesting and immediately turns downhill without ever changing course. So not worth it, sorry.
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