The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin – 1972
I went into The Stepford Wives thinking a couple of things: firstly, that it was a straight up horror story (it’s not – it actually has its tongue firmly in its cheek); and secondly, that it would be at least a little longer than it turned out to be. As it is, it’s about as short as it could be and still be called a novel.
For the very brief time that The Stepford Wives hangs around, Ira Levin still manages to use a lot of those words setting everything up. The story takes place in Stepford (obviously) and follows new resident Joanna as she slowly discovers that the women of the community are being replaced by literal robots… and that she is next on the hit list. Think of a sex doll with the ability to whip up a great meal and you’ll be pretty close to the mark.
Of course, the narrative of the novel has become so ingrained in popular culture that the title is now a part of our language. A Stepford wife is a woman who is completely subservient to her husband, and exists only to do his bidding. Hell, I was even using the term long before I had even thought about reading the book.
I don’t know if Ira Levin was happy that his story was appropriated in such a way, but it has certainly helped keep the novel alive.