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The Ten-Year Napby Meg Wolitzer
Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Wife and The Position, a feverishly smart novel about female ambition, money, class, motherhood, and marriage — and what happens in one community when a group of educated women chooses not to work. For a group of four New York friends, the past decade has been largely defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated and reared to believe that they would conquer the world, they then left jobs as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and film scouts to stay home with their babies. What was meant to be a temporary leave of absence has lasted a decade. Now, at age forty, with the halcyon days of young motherhood behind them and without professions to define them, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen face a life that is not what they were brought up to expect but seems to be the one they have chosen. But when Amy gets to know a charismatic and successful working mother of three who appears to have fulfilled the classic women's dream of having it all — work, love, family — without having to give anything up, a lifetime's worth of concerns, both practical and existential, opens up. As Amy's obsession with this woman's bustling life grows, it forces the four friends to confront the choices they've made in opting out of their careers — until a series of startling events shatters the peace and, for some of them, changes the landscape entirely. Written in Meg Wolitzer's inimitable, glittering style, The Ten-Year Nap is wickedly observant, knowing, provocative, surprising, and always entertaining, as it explores the lives of these women with candor, wit, and generosity.
"In her latest novel, Wolitzer (The Wife; etc.) takes a close look at the 'opt out' generation: her cast of primary characters have all abandoned promising careers (in art, law and academia) in favor of full-time motherhood. When their children were babies, that decision was defensible to themselves and others; 10 years on, all of these women, whose interconnected stories merge during their regular breakfasts at a Manhattan restaurant, harbor hidden doubts. Do their mundane daily routines and ever-more tenuous connections to increasingly independent children compensate for all that lost promise? Wolitzer centers her narrative on comparisons between her smart but bored modern-day New York and suburban mommies and the women of the generation preceding them, who fought for women's liberation and equality. Contemporary chapters, most of which focus on a single character in this small circle of friends, alternate with vignettes from earlier eras, placing her characters' crises in the context of the women, famous and anonymous, who came before. Wolitzer's novel offers a hopeful, if not exactly optimistic, vision of women's (and men's) capacity for reinvention and the discovery of new purpose." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"As the mother of three young children, I am just rubbing the sleep from my eyes after a four-year, rather than a 10-year, nap. Like the characters in Meg Wolitzer's witty new novel, I, too, found it easy to snuggle in, giving myself a break from work, letting it be my husband's turn. But children grow up, and the bed gets cold. We reawaken to ourselves, and then, Rip Van Winkle-like, must learn to... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) navigate a world that has moved on, perhaps leaving us behind. Amy, Roberta and Karen, the heroines of 'The Ten-Year Nap,' have been meeting at the Golden Horn diner after dropping their 10-year-old sons at their tony Manhattan private school. There, over coffee and eggs, talk substitutes for action, filling the day until it's time for pickup. Raised to pursue careers, the three women (along with their friend Jill, who adopted a Russian daughter and decamped to the suburbs) were blindsided by motherhood. When it was time to return to work, not one of them could bear to relinquish her child to a baby sitter. As Amy recognizes, 'She could not turn him over to the kindest, softest woman in the world; even a gigantic, gelatinous, floating human breast would not be good enough.' Now, a decade later, they find themselves still home, having lost their fix on the larger world even as their children barrel toward independence. How did we get here? asks Amy. Now what? Raised by an ur-feminist, encounter-group-hosting historical novelist, Amy lacks the passion for career that propelled her mother, nor has she mastered the serenity of her pragmatic friend Karen, who has made peace with stay-at-home motherhood. Amy's dissatisfaction only intensifies when she develops a friend's crush on glittering Penny Ramsey, another mother at school who seems to effortlessly negotiate family and work while also dallying with a dashing colleague. Drawn into the love triangle, Amy can no longer avoid facing the ennui she feels about her aimless life and cookie-noshing, workaholic bedmate. Meanwhile, her fellow nappers also are stirring. Former artist Roberta has trouble painting and so befriends a promising art student in South Dakota whom she meets while volunteering at an abortion clinic. Jill, who is friendless in her suburban exile and jealous of Amy's new pal, obsesses over her disconnected 6-year-old daughter and flagellates herself for her lack of maternal instinct. The abrupt and violent end of Penny's affair forces Amy, and then the rest, to confront how completely they've been living through and for others, asleep to their own desires. If Wolitzer were content to people her book solely with women happily married and wealthy enough to afford the luxury of ambivalence, it would be a too-familiar read. But she weaves in vignettes of marginal South Dakotans and various iconoclastic mothers and muses, subtly showing how women's individual choices (or lack thereof) are inextricable from the history and future of feminism. Our four main characters are not the social reformers and hell-raisers their mothers were — they may question, but they never reject, the very institutions that compel their dilemmas: capitalism, monogamous marriage, competitive child-rearing. Instead, living in an era with no barricades to throw themselves upon or protests to march in, they try to lead their lives as responsibly and thoughtfully as they can. It doesn't matter, Amy realizes, whether you stay home or return to work, so long as you do it with your eyes fully open, coming down 'on the side of purpose.' The book occasionally reads like an overly earnest polemic or a chatty episode of 'The View,' but for the most part Wolitzer perfectly captures her women's resolve in the face of a dizzying array of conflicting loyalties. To whom does a woman owe her primary allegiance? Her children? Her mother? Her friends, spouse, community? God forbid, herself? For all the hands tugging at their skirts, Wolitzer knows women are ultimately left alone with their choices, and they must be able to live with them. Some of the book's most poignant moments take place outside the sorority, in solitude, as when Jill weeps in her darkened kitchen, finally coming to terms with her daughter's very real deficits, or when Amy stumbles across self-contained Penny, eating her frozen yogurt alone in crowded Penn Station, deeply absorbed in choosing slides for the job she loves, and decides not to disturb her. 'All around the country,' the book begins, 'the women were waking up.' If women wait to have all the answers, they will never get out of bed. Talk is fine, Wolitzer tells us, necessary, even — but action is better. By the end of the novel, there is an empty booth at the Golden Horn diner and a line of anxious young moms waiting to fill it, but for Wolitzer's women it's time to get dressed, kiss their kids and get their coffee to go." Reviewed by Sheri Holman, author of 'The Dress Lodger'( and 'The Mammoth Cheese'), Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"The tartly funny Wolitzer is a miniaturist who can nail a contemporary type, scene or artifact with deadeye accuracy." New York Times
"A perceptive, highly pleasurable novel." Kirkus Reviews
"It's a rare novelist who can transform domestic fiction into a sustained, smart, and funny inquiry into the price of ambition, the value of work, issues of class, and the meaning of motherhood — Wolitzer is that novelist." Booklist
"Wolitzer's great ear for dialogue and for insinuating humor into seriousness make this novel a thought-provoking pleasure to read." Seattle Times
The New York Times bestselling novel that woke up critics, book clubs, and women everywhere.
For a group of four New York friends the past decade has been defined largely by marriage and motherhood, but it wasn't always that way. Growing up, they had been told that their generation would be different. And for a while this was true. They went to good colleges, and began high-powered careers. But after marriage and babies, for a variety of reasons, they decided to stay home, temporarily, to raise their children. Now, ten years later, they are still at home, unsure how they came to inhabit lives so different from the ones they expected — until a new series of events begins to change the landscape of their lives yet again, in ways they couldn't have predicted.
Written in Meg Wolitzer's inimitable, glittering style, The Ten-Year Nap is wickedly observant, knowing, provocative, surprising, and always entertaining, as it explores the lives of its women with candor, wit, and generosity.
Remarkable . . . With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself.”—The New York Times Book Review
"A victory . . . The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."—Entertainment Weekly (A)
From New York Timesbestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a new novel that has been called "genius" (The Chicago Tribune), wonderful” (Vanity Fair), "ambitious" (San Francisco Chronicle), and a page-turner” (Cosmopolitan), which The New York Times Book Review says is "among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzens Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot."
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Juless now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
About the Author
Meg Wolitzer is the author of eight previous novels, including The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She lives in New York City.
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