Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meg Wolitzer's "The Ten Year Nap" (2008)


I recently finished The Ten Year Nap. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Meg Wolitzer explores the relationships and career/family struggles of four 40-year old women. 

Three of the four characters are dissatisfied or unfulfilled (to varying degrees), while the fourth (Karen Yip) is very happily married and does not mind not having a career because she spends all of her free time thinking about numbers. Wolitzer did not sufficiently develop Karen's storyline.

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The main character, Amy Lamb, is a former attorney who is particularly unsettled by not having worked for the past decade.

Amy's mother experienced a strong feminist impulse (and became a novelist) during Amy's adolescence, and I think Amy felt abandoned when her mother focused on her own happiness/satisfaction rather than her children's. Therefore, Amy is reluctant to prioritize her career over her children.

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Another of the characters, Jill Hamlin, has moved from Manhattan to the suburbs and adopted a non-communicative girl from Russia.  Jill misses her female friends and struggles to find meaning in the (perceived) monotony of the suburbs.

I particularly enjoyed some of the passages about the various women's husbands, who were dealing with their own issues related to balancing and/or prioritizing the various aspects of their lives.

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Wolitzer is a very good writer who is able to get into the heads of her characters and show us a range of perceptions of the world.  Reading this book I was reminded of discussions, surrounding the release of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, about why the "great" current novelists are assumed to be all be men (ie, Franzen, David Foster Wallace (who else?)). 

Stylistically and thematically, The Ten Year Nap and Freedom are similar (with a focus on marriage, the suburbs, and a middle-age search for meaning in life), and Wolitzer has at least as many interesting (or provocative) ideas and insights as Franzen. Wolitzer should definitely get more props.


We had a good drenching rain last night.  The storms have been few and far between this summer, and I loved watching the rain through the window and then listening to it in bed.

1 comment:

  1. whatever your balance between work/play, you will believe that it is wrong, if not careful

    ReplyDelete