The Beautiful Wife


Viva Straight, a single woman who works for the Refugee Board of Canada, has set off with her mother for their annual holiday in the Dominican Republic when their plane is mysteriously diverted to the Philippines. There she meets and has a night of bliss with the enigmatic Monsieur Epee, who presents himself to her imagination as the ideal man – apart, perhaps, from the fact that he is possessed of a beautiful wife already.

So begins Leon Rooke’s exhilarating new novel populated by Viva’s extended family, numerous beautiful wives, seductive men, an unusual cat, Father Sin, the Sock People, the author himself and his researchers, a few ghosts, and even the shoe lady herself, Imelda Marcos.

The Beautiful Wife is an endearing marvel of narrative invention and narrative drive. It explores the quest for love and the mystery of attraction between men and women, celebrating links between art and politics and romantic love. It demonstrates, as well, the miraculous pull of myth and the pure necessity of ideals. Hailed as a national treasure, Leon Rooke is a master conjurer for whom grief, love and laughter are essential ingredients, profoundly mixed. The Beautiful Wife is fresh proof of Rooke’s own astonishing imagination and the power of love.


I think Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy and Leon Rooke are among the best authors in the world.

Pierre Pelot, author of “Is This How Men Live?"

Rooke's storytelling is enormously entertaining...

Quill & Quire

A Leon Rooke narrative can lead you down many paths and you don't really care where you're going because it's so much fun getting there.

Winnipeg Free Press

Totally accomplished and poised ...

The New York Times Book Review

He's a writer with a voice so sharp and personal that he changes your life while you're busy laughing.

Russell Banks, author of “The Sweet Hereafter”

...unquestionably the most imaginative fiction writer practicing in Canada.

The Globe and Mail politically well aimed as it is impeccably composed.

The National Post

Rooke seems to have outdone himself in wild, complex anti-realism

Toronto Star

Rooke's book is a romp

The London Free Press

About the Author

Leon Rooke

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
Leon Rooke photo

Leon Rooke

Leon Rooke is the author of seven novels, including Shakespeare's Dog which won the 1993 Governor General's Award for Fiction. Other major awards he has received include The W.O. Mitchell Prize, the Canada-Australia Literary Prize, and the CBC Fiction Prize. He has published over 300 short stories, as well as poetry and plays, and is the founder of The Eden Mills Literary Festival.