Think Sex and the City with less sex and more nappies Ladies First
Meg Wolitzer is the author of several successful novels, most recently The Wife ('has you howling with recognition - Allison Pearson) and The Position. She is married with two sons and lives in New York.
This self-conscious, idea-driven novel is read well by Alyssa Bresnahan, but she doesn't clearly distinguish each mother struggling for identity and purpose in today's confusing "post-feminist" middle class. Speaker identity comes not from the reader but from "Amy said" or "Jill said." There is plenty of irony--note the title--but Bresnahan's ironic tone sometimes leads us to dismiss characters' experiences and feelings. This is not entirely her fault as the main players are somewhat stereotyped: lawyer quits work to care for baby (now aged 10); husband struggles to keep family afloat; grandmother remains feminist warrior; Chinese mother wastes her mathematical genius. But Bresnahan does enliven Wolitzer's recap of modern women's conundrums, so despite limitations, this audio will surely kindle controversy on blogs and at book clubs, kitchen, school and office confabs. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 24). (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Wolitzer follows up her strong previous works, The Wife and The Position, with an equally riveting tale. Continuing her feminist view of contemporary society, she examines the lives of highly educated professional women who take a ten-year break from their careers to raise children only to realize after a time that they need to examine their inner lives to see if a former career, or something completely different, beckons. The book centers on four New York City women with sons at an expensive private school. Amy Lamb, an attorney-turned-stay-at-home mom, becomes obsessed with her new friend Penny's illicit affair. Amy's best friend, Jill, must face the truth of her adopted Russian daughter's learning disabilities. Artist Roberta's husband is trying to make it big with his puppetry. Other mothers feature in the story, and characters from the past, too, are introduced (e.g., Amy's mother, an intense feminist author back when "working mother" was an oxymoron). Beautifully written and cleverly paced, this novel has a great story with messages on many levels. Only one complaint: with all the bouncing back and forth among characters, readers may find it frustrating having to switch to a different character just as the character they're on is getting interesting! Can you say "sequel"? [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/07; Riverhead plans an online reading-group guide.]-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"What comes after chick-lit? Mum-lit, perhaps - but tales of hyper-active kids, moribund marriages and the career opportunities that got away will seldom match Wolitzer's wit, bite and schmaltz-free sympathy" * Independent *
"This one shouldn't be only for chicks. It's for everyone. It asks far-reaching questions about the place of women in society and within the family unit, but it asks also whether life has been fair to men" * Daily Telegraph *
"The latest novel from the excellent Meg Wolitzer presents four New York mothers emerging from a decade in babyland... a wonderful study of muddy equivocation, a hilarious yet compassionate examination of the primordial slime and the modern woman" * Guardian *
"Terrific... Wolitzer's novels have always been exemplars of the motto that the personal is political... [Offers] many pleasing, surprising contrasts" * The Times *
"It made me think about a woman's eternal problem of balancing the love she has for her children with what to do when they finally leave home. A serious, meaty read" * Essentials *