Tuesday, March 29, 2011
As she did to such acclaim with the New York Times bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles an issue that has deep ramifications for women's lives, in a way that makes it funny, riveting, and totally fresh-allowing us to see our own lives through her insightful lens. -- Riverhead
I have been so excited to read THE UNCOUPLING by Meg Wolitzer ever since my book club discussed Ms. Wolitzer's THE TEN YEAR NAP a few years ago. While I admit that THE TEN YEAR NAP wasn't one of my all-time favorite reads, it did generate one of my group's best discussions ever. In addition, it really made me think about my role as a mother and wife as well as my career (or should I say lack thereof?) I had high hopes that THE UNCOUPLING would be another book that caused me to have more of these thought-provoking discussions.
And I am very happy to say that THE UNCOUPLING did not disappoint. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed THE UNCOUPLING and actually thought it was a much easier (and enjoyable) read than THE TEN YEAR NAP. I'm not sure it "hit home" for me quite as much as THE TEN YEAR NAP, but it definitely entertained me a great deal and I adored all of the social commentary on women and their "relationships" with men. Having said that, I have plenty of friends who I'm pretty sure will relate to the "spell" that came over the women in the novel.
I have to say that THE UNCOUPLING has one of the most unique premises that I've come across in recent reading. Basically, a "spell" is cast over the women of this town where they no longer want to have sex with their husbands/significant others. Oddly enough, this spell occurs at the same time a new drama teacher begins auditioning for the school play Lysistrata. For those of you not familiar with this Greek comedy, it's a story about women who stop having relations with their men in order to stop a war. Needless to say, the women are confused about their behavior and changes of heart, while the men are just really confused... and frustrated.
I was extremely impressed with Ms. Wolitzer's ability to make this story work... because, if I'm being honest, this story seemed a little out there for me. One of the things that I most appreciated about this story is that the book almost seemed like a fairy tale of sorts. There was a magical quality to a few of the characters along with that whole "spell" business. And while parts of the story were mythical, the overall themes are guaranteed to resonate with female readers. I loved how the author was able to not only tie-in the story of Lysistrata with modern day women, but also provide some commentary (and potential food for thought) on the war in Afghanistan. And I loved the symbolism/comparison between the "spells" which cause humans to fall in love as well as the ones which cause them to fall out of love (or lust!)
Another thing that I really enjoyed about this book was that the chapters alternated between a variety of characters. This novel wasn't just a predictable story about middle-aged women who are fed up with their husbands and sex lives. Rather, Ms. Wolitzer showed how the spell affected all types of women (and also all ages of women.) It was interesting to see how each woman handled the sexual changes in her relationship, but I found it especially fascinating how each women then reflected on their own lives and needs and ultimately, their own happiness.
Ms. Wolitzer did a fabulous job with this novel and I really can't stress how terrific of a writer she is. Much of her prose is beautiful, but I most appreciate how spot-on her thoughts are about human nature... and specifically female nature. I definitely enjoyed all of the satire and humor that were woven into this story, and I admit that I did find myself chuckling a few times over the men's reactions to their women! One thing's for sure...Meg Wolitzer has an uncanny ability to make readers see (and think about) themselves through the characters that appear in her books.
The only negative thing I have to say about THE UNCOUPLING is that I was left wanting more. You see, I immediately felt the need to discuss the story with my friends. I'm not sure our conversation would be quite as open as it was for THE TEN YEAR NAP, namely because the subject matter tends to be more personal. However, I do think this book is perfect for female book clubs. There is an excellent reading guide available which delves into many interesting topics. Some things you might want to talk about include desire and loss of desire, marriage, sex, apathy, falling in love and falling out of love, and attraction.
I thought THE UNCOUPLING was a fantastic read and I highly recommend it to fans of women's literary fiction!
Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.