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Review: The Female Persuasion: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer

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The Story

Greer Kadetsy meets feminist icon Faith Frank at a college lecture. The attraction she feels to this woman, her ideas, her power, her influence, make a life-changing impact on her. Faith is, in a quote from the story, someone Greer could “love to be led by….”

What I Liked

“I sometimes think that the most effective people in the world are introverts who taught themselves how to be extroverts.”

The story took hold of me right away and I immediately recalled that energy of college. The excitement of new experiences, the angst over relationships, the thrill of learning things that actually interested me. Greer and her boyfriend, Cory, are both brilliant, both striving for the top–obsessed throughout their teens with making the Ivies. There’s so much that is charming about both of them. That they have many of the same likes and dislikes I had at that age made them even more endearing. And, yeah, frat guys and their smarmy sense of entitlement. (Not all, just many, of such guys).

I also felt drawn into Faith Frank–a little older in the story than I am now, yet I could feel her tiredness and know first hand her determination not to be marginalized by the changes life brings. She is at a vulnerable stage in life and has too much to lose and too much she doesn’t want to give up. I could see Jane Fonda playing her in the movie–like Grace (Frankie & Grace) but with feminist passion. (Apparently, Nicole Kidman is working on the movie already.)

But it was Zee I liked the best in the entire story.  Smothered by the careers of her parents, aching to understand her own identity, she was the one I felt for. I didn’t even begrudge her the sex scenes. I don’t when such scenes fit the book.

Some Quotes I Loved

“Why did a strong woman need to be her own shield?”

“A good girl…Good girls could go far, but they could rarely go the distance, they could rarely be great.”

“…other people’s marriages were like a two-person religious cult.”

“….men were a distraction or too high-maintenance or maybe having a man in her life was just one thing too many.”

“Men gave women the power that they themselves didn’t want…power to run the home, to deal with the children, their friends, and teachers. To make all decisions about the domestic realm.”

What I didn’t like

“She became who she had been meant to be.”

After a while, I thought Greer got a tad too full of her own importance. She wavered between shrill and puking-ly earnest with a pinch of precious thrown in. Overall, I still liked her, but she had her moments.

“…relationships were a luxury designed for people whose lives were not in crisis….”

Mostly I didn’t like the bloat to this book. Backstories that grew and grew began to feel smothery.  I wanted them to end much sooner than they did. Some judicious cutting of these would have helped–they seemed to take over the end of the book.

Then there were the sermons. The first was against the voluntary teacher program (like the program “Teach”–formerly “Teach for America”). That’s been discussed many times for many years since the real program began–why rehash it?

“…you bind yourself in your own ignorance….”

Then there was the one that nearly sank the book. I swear if I have to read one more shrill, shrieking, screed-ish sermon on the last election I’m going to scream. IT IS OVER. It was OVER when the book was published.  It’s the winy-girl sing-song-ing “it’s not fair,” over and overand in that tone! Fingernails on a chalkboard in surround-sound–ugh! This lost a ton of my respect for the author. It had little to do with the story and was more of a personal vendetta.

FYI: No, I didn’t vote for him.  Yes, I am upset about stuff. Serious stuff. But, it is OVER. Stop looking back and start moving forward and DO SOMETHING about the situation.

My Rating

3.75

I wanted to give this a 4 out of 5 rating, but that sermon at the end did me in. But, I am still anxious to read many more of this author’s novels!

 

 

4 thoughts on “Review: The Female Persuasion: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer

  1. Okay, reading your review, this sounded like a book I’d like to read. Then I hit the political bit. Just ugh! I’ve almost decided I want to stick with books published 10 years or more ago. It just seems like, this past decade, all authors (and 90%+ seem to be liberal) feel compelled to dump in their own political agendas either as a narrator or through a major character. It is really off-putting to me.

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