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Authors: Elizabeth Brundage

The Doctor's Wife

Table of Contents
ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and winner of a James Michener Award. Her short fiction has been published in
The Greensboro Review, The Witness,
New Letters
. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.
Praise for
The Doctor’s Wife
“What Elizabeth Brundage has done with
The Doctor’s Wife
kept me up two nights—the first was the one in which I read it, and the second was the night when I kept trying to argue with her. ‘He wouldn’t do that,’ I wanted to say—but yes, he would. He would almost surely do all that. And so would she.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of
Bastard Out of Carolina

The Doctor’s Wife
is certainly a tense and compelling psychological thriller, but it’s more than just a page-turner. In her dark depiction of small-town intolerance, Brundage invites us to question . . . our engagement with the world. My favorite (and truly the darkest and saddest) line of the book is the very last.”
—Ruth Ozeki, author of
My Year of Meats
All Over Creation
“Elizabeth Brundage has exquisitely captured the tension that resides at the crossroads of self and society.
The Doctor’s Wife
encapsulates not only our uncertain, conflicted times but the maddening, endearing, fascinating contradictions of the American moral construct. This novel is as politically pertinent as it is a page-turner.”
—Meghan Daum, author of
The Quality of Life Report
“The Doctor’s Wife
is a full meal of sex, danger, and small-town paranoia which I greedily devoured.”
—Laurie Fox, author of
The Lost Girls
“Elizabeth Brundage’s prose reveals an honesty, clarity and grace uncommon for any novel, let alone a debut, and her insights consistently surprise and astonish . . .
The Doctor’s Wife
is a novel to savor, praise and share.”
—David Corbett, author of
The Devil’s Redhead
Done for a Dime
“Steeped in psychological suspense, compelling and compulsively readable.”
Published by Penguin Group
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M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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Books Ltd.)
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in a
Viking edition.
First Plume Printing, December 2005
Copyright © Elizabeth Brundage, 2004
All rights reserved 
Title-page photograph © Brian Cencula/CORBIS
The Library of Congress has catalogued the Viking edition as follows:
Brundage, Elizabeth.
The doctor’s wife : a novel / by Elizabeth Brundage.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-436-25926-2
1. Physicians’ spouses—Fiction. 2. New York (State)—Fiction.
3. Physicians—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3602.R84D63 2004
813’.6—dc22 2003065773
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

For Scott, Hannah, Sophie, and Sam
Goosey Goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs,
And in my lady’s chamber;
There I met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers;
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs.
The memory starts here, in my apron pocket, with the gun. I remember holding it. It felt good, cold. And inside my body it was hot, blistering hot, and I took the gun out of my apron and started walking across the kitchen floor and it came to me that I had memorized every squeal in those old wood planks and I went to the cellar door, which was laughing blatantly in my face, and I got my hammer and I started whaling on that door thinking, Fuck you, you assholes, fuck you a thousand times and fuck all your mothers! And I hacked away at that door like it was some kind of live animal, and then it was open, it was broken, it was striated, and there was wood all over the place, and chipped paint like all the pieces of my heart, and I helped myself to the darkness beyond it, and I rumbled down the stairs in my work boots, into the cold stink of the cellar, and I grabbed him. I said, Get up, you’ve caused me enough fucking trouble, and he shook in my grasp, like a child, he shook, and I could see in his face the reckoning, I could see he was sorry, he had come around, he had come full circle, and I knew somehow that I was responsible for that, I had done that and it made me proud. I yanked on him and he in his weakened state cowered and I could feel the temptation to do it right then, I could feel it, I had to work at suppressing it. I wanted it to be over, I wanted him to be somewhere else, buried deep in the ground where no one would ever look and in the spring it would be covered with flowers and those lovely fluffy dandelions that you can blow into a thousand pieces. I used to do that when I was little and I used to wish for things but I never got what I asked for and now, in retrospect, when I consider my unrelenting devotion to Jesus, I have to say that I am sorely disappointed.

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