It’s so sad,” she told me, “because you could have been something. You could have gotten to the top. You’re smart enough. But now you’re going to end up as just another dirty, scummy, rotten crimwife.
How far would you go for love? Some women commit crimes to help their lovers, while others spend years on the run. Tanya Levin gave up her career as a prison social worker to pursue romance with an inmate. From her first day over on the visitors’ side of the fence, she became a crimwife. Some women make the leap in the chaos of their loved one’s arrest; others, like Levin, choose a relationship knowing the stakes. Crimwife is a glimpse inside a secret and brutal world, where convicted men live by unwritten codes and expect their women to do the same.
In her five years as a crimwife, Levin met women of all ages and backgrounds who lived behind invisible bars, stuck in the house awaiting daily six-minute phone calls. She became curious about their different paths. How did they fall for a bad boy? How did they cope with their partner locked up? What made them stay — or finally walk away? In Crimwife, she tells their stories, and her own, with the honesty, black humour and insight that can only come from experience.
Longlisted, 2013 Davitt Awards.
‘Crimwife by Tanya Levin is an intelligently candid, hair-raising personal account of loving a jailed criminal. The feminine abjectness Levin analyses, in her own experience and that of women she interviews, is more recognisable than one can comfortably admit.’ —Helen Garner
‘Riveting’ —Noosa Today
‘In this rueful, edgy and clear-eyed tale, being a crimwife is not a matter of choice. It’s a twist of fate.’ —Age
Tanya Levin is the author of Crimwife: An Insider's Account of Love Behind Bars and People in Glass Houses: An Insider's Story Of A Life In & Out Of Hillsong. People in Glass Houses was shortlisted for the 2007 Walkley Non-Fiction Book Award.