Evie Troy, an impulsive and funny young Jewish woman, has a tendency to overcomplicate things. And that can get her into trouble. When her dying friend Jean-Gabriel, a successful and controversial francophone writer, cons her into carrying out his last wish, delivering a monetary mea-culpa to his ex-wife Amélie, Evie decides she knows better. Jean-Gabriel is tainted by a successful play that bears the name of his former and much younger wife whom the public imagines is the inspiration for this play about marital strife. Evie’s mother, Marilyn, hates what she thinks Jean-Gabriel stands for: i.e, older man who marries and emotionally betrays in a very public way an extremely young wife (he was 48 and she was 17 when they married).
A whacky plot unfolds in which Jean-Gabriel dies and Evie inherits the job of giving his former wife, Amelie, his fortune without her knowing the source of the money. Evie decides what Amelie really needs is a baby, something she and Jean-Gabriel were unable to have, a plan she keeps so secret not even Amélie has an inkling a baby is headed her way. Evie’s pregnancy scheme pops so many holes at the seams that she’s forced to enlist the aid of her estranged mother Marilyn. Back when she was Evie’s age Marilyn lit out on the Abortion Caravan, a cross-Canada road trip whose final blow-out demonstration in Ottawa brought the work of Parliament crashing to a feminist halt. Marilyn can’t fathom her daughter’s daft determination to saddle up her womb on spec, but she agrees to come on board and the two of them head-butt their way through every step of Evie’s program, from arm-twisting Mr. Right into coughing up his sperm to staging the flimflam that will relay the newborn to the oblivious Amélie.
On the way we see that Evie and Moshe, the donor /friend, may be falling in love. In a nice twist, Marilyn’s pro-choice activist friends become the witnesses and medical team who deliver Evie and Moshe’s baby. But will Amélie accept the baby they’re offering up gift-wrapped? Played out against the backdrop of the fight for women’s rights in Canada, Evie, the Baby and the Wife is the boisterous tale of a mother and daughter at odds, struggling to reconnect across a reproductive divide.
“Evie, the Baby and the Wife kept me spellbound as the madcap plot unfolds. Like a modern day Shakespearean romp, this novel gallops to its conclusion with intricate twists and turns. Suspend your disbelief (and your matzah balls) and immerse yourself into the intelligent prose, peppered with Jewish expressions. This novel, set in Montreal, is part feminist discourse, a mother daughter story, a love story, a tale of redemption. Underlying the comedy and intrigue are issues such as abortion, the ethics of publishing writing drawn from others’ lives, generational divide, and more. With heart and humour, Phyllis Rudin reminds us of how those we love both surprise as well as disappoint us, and that injustice can inspire sacrifice.”
—Renee Norman, author of True Confessions, winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Poetry, as well as of Backhand Through the Mother and Martha in the Mirror