Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book Brief: The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

by Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead, 2008
351 pages

narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan
13 hours and 43 minutes

Motivation for reading: Personal project - I've decided to read my way through Meg Wolitzer's backlist.

Source: hardcover and digital audio borrowed from the library

Publisher's summary:
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.

Opening paragraph:
All around the country, the women were waking up. Their alarm clocks bleated one by one, making soothing or grating sounds or the stirrings of a favorite song. There were hums and beeps and a random burst of radio. There were wind chimes and roaring surf, and the electronic approximation of birdsong and other gentle animal noises. All of it accompanied the passage of time, sliding forward in liquid crystal. Almost everything in these women's homes required a plug. Voltage stuttered through the curls of wire, and if you put your ear to one of these complicated clocks in any of the bedrooms, you could hear the burble of industry deep inside its cavity. Something was quietly happening.
My thoughts:

I'm beginning to think Meg Wolitzer can do no wrong.

The Ten-Year Nap takes an intimate look at the lives of  four Manhattan friends. While they're taking a break to stay home with young children, some long for their old careers, while others dream of forging a new path. Relationship dynamics - with spouses, children, friends - as well as internal conflicts and struggles fill the pages of this novel.

Meg Wolitzer understands women's lives and she's able to infuse her novels with an authentic NYC vibe. Reading her books is enjoyable and rewarding... every time.

This was a read/listen combination for me. The audio production was fine, though unremarkable. There's nothing to especially recommend it, nor any reason to dissuade you from going that route.

I'll read The Wife  next, hopefully before the movie is released next month.

My rating:



20 comments:

  1. I like the premise of the book. It's definitely very relatable for a lot of women. I don't have children, but the work vs. stay at home aspect is something I think about a lot.

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    1. Angela Lawrence - It sure is... and even though the book is ten years old, it still feels very relevant.

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  2. I remember hearing a lot about this when it first came out. It sounds like it's stood the test of time.

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    1. Kathy - I think it definitely has!

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  3. I also love Meg Wolitzer's books and read The Ten Year Nap about ten years ago, before blogging, so I don't have a posted review anywhere. I've read eight of her books so far; recently, The Female Persuasion. All great reads!

    Enjoy your journey.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I thought The Female Persuasion was a great read, too. Looking forward to catching up on more of her work!

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  4. I love Wolitzer but I did not love her one book, The Uncoupling. That was a rough read for me.

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    1. Ti - Hmmm, I haven't gotten to that one yet. Just read the summary on goodreads and it sounds pretty weird!

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  5. I didn't think I had read anything by Wolitzer, but after looking at her list of books on her website, I realize that not only did I try The Interestings (gave up on the audio), but I read Belzhar (which I only sortof liked). This one sounds promising, though, maybe because I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit when my daughter was in elementary school.

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    1. Les - I loved both The Interestings and Belzhar. This one didn't have quite as much of an impact, but was still a very good read. Guess I just like her style.

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  6. I like that as a personal project. There were a few authors I have considered for reading all they have written. This book sounds like one to get me on the Wolitzer wagon. I have to get this one after your review.

    Thanks so much for your nice comment about our new fun car :-) We are loving it. Can't take Aja in it but that's what the Outback is for.

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    1. Tina - I sure did get caught up in the lives of those women. Wolitzer just 'get it' I think.

      So glad you're enjoying the car. Just love seeing those happy faces in the photo!

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  7. I don't think I've ever read any of her books, but after reading your glowing thoughts on them, I want to read them.

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    1. Vicki - I'll be curious to hear what you think of her. She's an excellent writer!

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  8. Ok...my comment disappeared again! I can not remember if I read this book or not...it was a long time ago...way before blogging. But I know I read The Wife and loved it...so...what happens is the first time I write my comment it just vanishes. I write another one and it stays!

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    1. Patty - The same thing happens to me when I comment on other a few other blogger blogs. I wonder if I am pressing enter too soon? So strange! I plan to read The Wife this summer.

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  9. There aren't very many books (heck, authors!) that you and I don't agree on but Wolitzer is definitely one. As a woman who chose to stay at home when my kids were young, I really felt like I was being attacked while I was reading this book. You reference a NYC vibe - I wonder if the book was too closely tied to that vibe me?

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    1. Lisa - So true... we tend to agree on most books and authors! I also chose to stay home with my kids (felt fortunate that it was even an option) but didn't feel like I was being criticized by the book for that choice. The women certainly had differing experiences at home and in their interactions with the working world... was interesting to me to see how they coped and how it all played out. The NYC vibe is present in all of Wolitzer's novels (maybe not Belzhar)... wonder if that was part of the unpleasant/uncomfortable feeling?

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  10. The Ten-Year Nap sounds fascinating. I must read it. It's on my list. I hope that soon I'll be able to read Meg Wolitzer. I think this one makes it to the top of my list of hers that I'd like to read.

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    1. Judith - Wolitzer will be there whenever you are ready... have a feeling her work will be with us for quite some time!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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