The Ten-Year Nap

The Ten-Year Nap

by Meg Wolitzer

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling novel by the author of The Interestings and The Female Persuasion 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.

Meg Wolitzers's newest book, The Interestings, is now available from Riverhead Books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594483547
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 332,327
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times bestselling author of The InterestingsThe Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, The Wife, and Sleepwalking. She is also the author of the young adult novel, Belzhar. Wolitzer lives in New York City.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

May 28, 1959

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York

Education:

B.A., Brown University, 1981

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
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, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen were told by their mothers that their generation would be different. “You girls will be able to do just about anything you want, ”Amy’s mother had predicted. And for a while, this was true. Amy and her friends went to good colleges and began careers as lawyers, film producers, bankers, and artists. But after they got married and had babies, they decided for a variety of reasons to stay home, temporarily, to raise them. Now, ten years later, at age forty, with their children older and no longer in need of their constant presence, and without professions through which to define themselves, the four friends wonder how they got here7mdash;in lives so different from the ones they were brought up to expect—and why they have chosen to stay so long.

As the women redefine their relationship to their children and husbands—and reevaluate their former selves—a lifetime’s worth of concerns opens up, both practical and existential, and questions begin to surface: Is simply being a mother enough? Does a lack of motivation for returning to work signal a weakness in character? Is it possible—or even desirable—to “have it all,” to be an attentive mother, a loving wife, and a successful professional? And if not, is the choice of motherhood over career a betrayal of the hard-fought victories of the women who came before? A carefully observed character study set in the context of the evolution of the feminist ideal over the last several decades, Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten-Year Nap uses the lives of these four friends to explore the breadth and complexity of women’s experiences in the post-feminist era.

When Amy embarks on a relationship with Penny Ramsey, a woman on the other side of the work divide who is an object of both envy and derision to Amy and her friends, the balance of the women’s lives is shifted, and the four women are forced to confront the choices and compromises they have made over the last ten years. As counterpoint, Wolitzer interweaves glimpses into the lives of a previous generation of women, the choices they made and the limitations they faced. Although for the four friends the possibilities may have expanded, each must still choose her own path, and through it, find the woman she has become.

 


ABOUT MEG WOLITZER

Meg Wolitzer is a novelist and screenwriter. She is the author of This Is Your Life, which was made into the Nora Ephron filmThis Is My Life. She lives in New York City.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Though much of the story is told from the perspective of Amy, her friends, and their families, at times the perspective widens to include all women. What is the purpose of this technique? What is the author trying to convey through its use?
     
  • One of the main themes of the novel is the legacy of the feminist movement, with Amy’s mother representing the promise of its early years and Amy and her friends representing its practical result. What, overall, does the novel have to say about feminism? Is the idea of feminism still relevant in today’s society?
     
  • Although Roberta initially seeks to help Brandy Gillop with her art career, she ultimately abandons her. How did this affect your assessment of Roberta’s character? Were you surprised? What is your overall assessment of her?
     
  • Amy’s friendship with Penny begins when she learns of Penny’s affair with Ian, and ends when he is injured on Saint Doe’s. Discuss the relationship between Penny and Amy. Why does the affair create such an intense—though fleeting—bond between these women?
     
  • While most of the “flashback” chapters deal with the parents of the novel’s main characters, a few focus on real historical and contemporary figures: Margaret Thatcher, Georgette Magritte, Nadia Comaneci. Why do you think the author included these chapters? How do these glimpses of their lives tie into the larger themes of the novel?
     
  • Amy’s discovery of her Leo’s falsified “business expenses” causes her to question her belief in him and their marriage. Why does this discovery cause her so much distress? What does it say about her relationship with her husband and her expectations from life in general?
     
  • Though she rarely speaks of it explicitly, the suicide of Jill’s mother has clearly cast a shadow over Jill’s entire life. Discuss Jill’s life story—her early promise as a student at Pouncey, the humiliation of her failed doctoral thesis, her struggles with raising Nadia—in the context of this early trauma. How does her mother’s fate shape Jill’s reactions to events in adulthood? Are there ways in which it has made her stronger?
     
  • Unlike the rest of the book, which is told from the point of view of women, chapter fourteen is told from Amy’s father’s perspective. What is the significance of this chapter? What do you think the author is trying to convey through this character?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Ten-Year Nap 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book shines a light on the lives of several stay at home moms, but obscures some of the joy. I was disappointed with the novel's portrayal of marriage and motherhood. That said, it was interesting and I did enjoy reading it. It just left me feeling very sad.
    ignacio_4_bn More than 1 year ago
    If you're familiar with the kind of movies that join together three or four stories and, somehow, combine them into one, with great ease, you'll have no problem following this novel. It's about different people living different lives but they all intertwine with one another. The main theme is about how some women feel about leaving work behind and not returning for one reason or another. The different characters reflect on their current lives and wonder whether or not it was worth it to leave their careers and stay at home to watch after the kid(s). After reading this novel you should have a better idea about what goes through the head of the average mom...whether she is currently working or not.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    For good fiction to catch fire something needs to be interesting-characters, story or good writing and I believe it's inherent for it to happen in the opening pages and this one doesn't catch fire. I haven't read anything else by her and maybe her previous novels are better. I could have also done without the simple language like Bip, Boop and Beep.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The 4 women in this book were not a representation of stay at home moms and their struggles! The title alone is insulting to women who have stayed at home for 10 years to raise their kids...like we watch soaps all day and are completely mindless because we don't work for corporate america.
    oldblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is quite a long book, occupying 11 CDs. I listened to it on my long sunday runs and it took me quite a few weeks and a lot of running to get through it. Nonethess, I didn't feel that it dragged at all and kept my interest to the end. (Perhaps if I was reading it, I might have felt differently?) I'm not a woman and I probably never felt the urge to parenthood as much as the women in this book did, but I did sacrifice my career and hence my "life" on that particular altar, so I had a very personal interest in how the various women felt about their parenting role, and the degree to which they felt the need to add other non-parenting elements to their lives. It's almost a 21st century version of "The Women's Room" (although it's been nearly 30 years since I read that book, so don't quote me on that parallel!). Wolitzer even takes us back to the 1970s and the Consciousness Raising Group as if trying to deliberately draw a comparison between then and now in terms of women's approach to paid work and family. As such, I guess this book would be of most interest to people, like me, who were adults in the 1970s and are now in the latter stages of their careers and parenting roles.The book seems to be neither pessimistic nor optimistic about motherhood and paid work, but it raises some important issues. . . for which there is no simple resolution. As with almost all the audio books to which I've listened, the narrator did an excellent job (the only exception has been one of Chris Bohjalian's books).
    coolmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Eh, was just OK.Nothing revelatory.Story of 4 NYC women who have sons in the same private school, each with their own issues; each learning how to "cope" in the big, big city with children and their own (past)lives. Who gives up? Who has an affair? Who finds happiness? Predicatable.
    LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is the story of four women who decided to stay home to raise their children, and who are still out of the paid workforce 10 years later when all the children are in full time school. Each of the women is examining, to some extent at least, the choices she's made and feeling, to varying extents, pulls to be doing something more.Meg Wolitzer is a very good writer. She's given each of the main characters a distinctive voice and individual perspective on things. There isn't much of a plot, and just when the narrative starts to get stronger, the book is nearly over. But that's okay because this is a book about our society's beliefs and values. The author intersperses the story of the main characters (Amy, Jill, Karen and Roberta) with the stories of their mothers and other women of previous generations. In this way, she is posing the question of what happened to the ideals early feminists fought for and how feminism manifests itself in the 21st century. It is a book that provides plenty of food for thought, along with an engaging look at several women who are, like most of us, doing the best that they can in a complex world.
    aliastori on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Funny, perceptive and engrossing. Work and motherhood-the pushes and pulls are not going away and Wolitzer really nails it.
    burnit99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A group of four women friends, ten years after putting careers on hold to raise their families, have been raised to believe that they can have it all, and still wonder why they have such unsettling feelings about the choices they have made and how they have gotten here. The story jumps from one woman to another, and sometimes back one or two generations. Meg Wolitzer is an able and observant writer with an acerbic wit. But the storyline itself never quite coalesces, and eventually reaches a point where events just come to a halt without any real resolutions, although there is a sort of epilogue in the final pages.If most of these women are at once troubled and satisfied in their life choices, it doesn't seem like anything has been learned by the time the book is over. Maybe that's the point right there.
    ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I liked this book because it had a main character facing a situation I (and many of my friends) are facing: What do you do after 10 years out of the job market. I liked the fact there wasn't an easy answer.
    kristenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    ** spoiler alert ** Complicated reading experience all round. I was enthusiastic about the pre-release information and professional reviews, but then the early reader reviews were all so negative. It showed up on a remainder table at B&N so I decided to take a chance after all, and am very glad of it. But now rating the book is its own dilemma -- the writing style was very enjoyable, but the plot and characterization were rather weak. And major caveat: I don't have kids, although that's on the horizon and I've been reading lots of opt-out nonfiction. Again, I loved *how* she writes. Some wonderful phrases, clear descriptions, distinctive voices, and the clever flashbacks to the prior generation of female characters. I think she also had a really good ear for women's friendships, both good and bad elements. But there were three big annoyances. First, I still have no idea what any of those women do all day. Well, meet for breakfast and sometimes do yoga. But that still leaves an amazing amount of blank space. Maybe that's supposed to be symbolic -- nothing they do is significant enough to mention. Fits the title. But it was still frustrating because it made it impossible for me to develop my own opinion on the choices they were making, which I'd think was supposed to be a major goal of the book. Second, the way three of the main characters got a dramatic twist ending was annoyingly unrealistic. The television show, the musical prodigy, and the falling-apart-for-years marriage resolved with a five minute conversation. All ridiculous. Finally, the stereotyping of the fourth main character bothered me as it bothered most reviewers -- both the over-the-top Asian cliches and the fact that the one minority character was also basically perfect and the only one with a totally happy life. I was also uneasy about message in the non-biological mother being the one who couldn't bond. There were some interesting hints about the 'villain' husband being not nearly as bad as his wife claimed but that sadly didn't go anywhere. I did really enjoy the jealous references to the upcoming generation of involved fathers because although I'm the same age as the women in the story, I have a 20-something fiance who wants to stay home with the kids. Let's hope that was one of the realistic bits.
    bookstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I waited and waited for something interesting to happen. It really wasn't until about page 150 that a plot started to develop, but it wasn't exciting, and it didn't say much, and yet I continued to read. The chapters on the past seemed out of place, and overall made the book a bit disjointed. The title was far better than the book itself. It could have said something, made us care about the characters, but in the end it was just a flat story.
    sonyau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I'm not much for recounting plot in a mini-review. You can read the backmatter and blurbs if you want to know what happens in this novel. Had I been able, I would have given this book 3.5 stars, but can't bump it all the way up to four. The novel is successful in linking the concepts of women in pre- and post-9/11 life and the work they do or do not do, but does not construct a complete world where these characters are supposedly living. The tone is almost too polemic, and there are some plot contrivances that require more dramatic resolution. Wolitzer has a strong grasp of character building as far as she goes, and there are a couple of very lovely moments, but ultimately, I was left wanting more than she could deliver. The novel is certainly worth reading, but will soon be forgotten.
    UnadornedBook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed The Ten Year Nap, it was very different than what I had expected it to be. Ms. Wolitzer is able to clearly transcribe the harried thought process of a mother. She puts on paper many of the secret thoughts that race through our minds as our children grow away from us. The characters were interesting--even those I didn't like (Amy!)--and the friendships were real and strong. The coffee shop moments were especially dear as they triggered warm memories of the (not often enough) times I take to connect with my friends.While the friendships were real and at times I felt Ms. Wolitzer could read minds, I didn't feel a strong connection to the women themselves. Perhaps because I'm not a city girl, I had a difficult time identifying with the main characters. There was a strong current of being incomplete without corporate work-which is not something I personally struggle with often, if at all. I would have liked to have seen at least one mother secure and confident in her choice to stay home.That said, I think this would make a great chick-flick. Someone should snatch up the rights!
    justjill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I really enjoyed this novel about women trying to understand and come to terms with the choices they've made about work and family. I think it accurately describes many of the challenges of modern motherhood for upper middle class women.
    bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A delightful book, about the joys and angst of women's lives; about blending one's need for self-fulfillment with one's family responsibilities, and the middle-of-the-night anxieties that we all share, albeit about different things. I worked half-time when my children were little, so I had the best of both worlds, and empathized with the "naps" these women who had left the workforce were dealing with.
    bachaney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Like many of the other reviewers that have posted here, I was excited to read Meg Wolitzer's new novel "The Ten Year Nap" after reading a profile on the author in the New York Times and hearing a story about her on NPR. I've always been interested in women's issues, and as a young career woman who is thinking about starting a family, the relationship between child rearing and career is a topic of particular interest for me. There were moments in this book that were great, particularly when Wolitzer was getting inside a character's head or writing a flashback to a previous generation of women (which I thought was a great technique to show the difference between these women's mother's lives, where they were fighting for women's rights and the women's lives in a post-feminist era). But overall this book lacked the key to any really good novel, a coherent narrative thread. The lack of a basic plot made this novel very slow at times and hard to read. Everytime I thought the author was introducing the key narrative, it faded quickly. It wasn't really until the end of the book, when several of the main characters take action to remedy the problems in their lives that the book starts to feel like its going somewhere, and then its over. This book felt very literary and very serious. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I didn't love it either. I would not recommend it for a summer read or a book club, but maybe it would be good for a Women in Literature class in a Women's Studies program at a college.
    ddirmeyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This novel is a story of four women in and around New York City. They are forty-somethings who left high-powered careers for motherhood. A new woman enters the life of one of the women and sets off feelings of jealousy, longing and questioning about choices made.I found the characters in this book to be overly simplistic and stereotypical. I was unable to develop any real fondness for any of the characters and therefore was not driven to find out how their lives turn out. Although I did finish the novel, I would not recommend it to a friend. Their are many other novels about motherhood and friendship that feature more compelling characters and plot-lines.
    mzonderm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Chapters in this novel alternate between the modern-day lives of a group of women in New York City, all of whom have left careers behind to raise their children, and stories of their mothers or other women from an earlier generation, all of whom are feminists in their own way.Wolitzer is telling us two things, I think. First, by contrasting the lives of mothers in the 1960s and '70s with those of their daughters in the late '90s and early 21st century, Wolitzer asks questions about what happened to the feminism that the earlier generation fought for. Is it lost because the next generation chose not to take advantage of it, or is it preserved because each woman has the choice, within her own family circumstances, of whether to work or not, and is not pushed into the role of stay-at-home-mom, merely because that's what is "done"?And by looking at the lives of women who have been out of the workforce for about 10 years, she is able to describe the rewards as well as the drawbacks to that choice for different women. Wolitzer is not shy about describing either. Some of her characters feel incredibly rewarded by being able to stay home with their children, others are more ambivalent. Some continually toy with the idea of going back to work, while one is eventually forced to go back to work because of financial issues.Although this novel sometimes reads as a series of vignettes or even interviews, Wolitzer brings it all together for a satisfying conclusion. Wolitzer looks at each character and each situation in a thoughtful way. This book is never preachy or judgmental, but is a gently told story about characters who are each sympathetic in their own way.
    KatharineClifton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    As a stay-at-home (ha!) mother of three, albeit all younger than 10 years old, children, I was profoundly connected to this book. I encountered a small part of myself in almost every single character. I delighted in the differences between the women and their relationships with their children and spouse. The way friendships shifted over time and with circumstance. The way perception is not reality on any of the fronts on which we do battle daily. Overall a great read for any educated mother who has made the choice to stay home.
    stephaniechase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    True enough to make any mother depressed, and pretentious enough to make any reader annoyed. But, then again, I did read it all...
    DonnerLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Meg Wolitzer's novel, The Ten Year Nap, is a thoughtful look at the lives of stay at home mothers. Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen all gave up careers to stay home with their children. Although they anticipated going back to work at some point, over time motherhood and marriage have defined their lives. Each have their own reasons for stay home after their children begin attending school and as the years slip by them, the idea of going back to work becomes more uncomfortable.The Ten Year Nap is very different from the types of novels that I generally read. Most of my reading is full of action, with a definite conflict that needs to be resolved, and characters that can be identified as heroes or villains. I greatly enjoyed taking a break from these fast-paced novels to read a more thoughtful examination of daily life. As a woman with a professional degree who is now staying home with my daughter, I was able to easily identify with the main characters. In today's society so much of who we are is defined by what we do and people are often unsure of how to respond to someone who gives up a career to be a full-time parent.Wolitzer carefully examines her characters' insecurities and strengths, the state of their marriages and friendships, and their relationships with their children. She brings out their inner thoughts which many of us are so reluctant to share. She answers the question of what these women do all day when their children are at school. Short glimpses between chapters also relate the influence of the past on the present.The language used in this novel flows easily, almost musical in nature. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters through the small details. Initially there is a sense that some of the characters are stagnant, stuck in their routine. They desire more but are unsure of how or what needs to be added to their lives to create a sense of fulfillment. Small changes are often all that is needed to propel the women forward.Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think it would make a great book club selection as it could spark a great discussion.
    Myckyee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Amy Buckner, a stay-at-home mother in New York, finds herself at loose ends when she realizes that her 10 year old son doesn¿t need her so much anymore and her best friend moves away. She continues to go through the motions, meeting friends for breakfast most mornings at a local café but Amy knows something is missing and she doesn¿t know how to find it or how to start looking. Into this growing void falls Penny Ramsey, who she gets to know while both are assigned to `safety walk¿ around their childrens¿ school. Amy discovers that Penny¿s life is much more interesting than her own; she¿s a museum director and her husband is a wealthy businessman. They have no financial problems and on the surface everything seems great. Amy begins a friendship with Penny that seems to fill the empty holes in her own life.This novel explores the issues surrounding women at different stages in their lives. Questions arise about decisions to stay at home while one¿s children are young and then not so young, friendship, marriage and family and careers. It delves into loyalty and betrayal, shallowness and profundity. The choices aren¿t easy to make and mostly not perfect, but are often the best possible solution for the given stage of life.I found this book to be thought provoking and relevant, as most of us at some time in our lives must decide about one or another of the issues that the various characters deal with. Should we stay at home while the children are young or entrust them to a daycare or babysitter? Can we afford to stay at home? And if we do go for that option, once the children are in school, then what?The author addresses some of these issues not only in the book but also in an article entitled ¿Mothers of Contention and the Money Wars¿. In this article Meg Wolitzer says: ¿Women who work full-time or part-time and those who stay home with their kids (as well as those who now spend their days answering help wanted ads on craigslist) may not experience Helen Reddy solidarity. It may be way too soon to speak about the mommy wars in the past tense, for no one has solved the problem of ambivalence about staying home versus working, or the lack of good, cheap daycare; and no one has found a way for some women not to feel they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. Maybe not even the full-scale meltdown of the economy can keep these particular, familiar wars from raging. But it can try.¿And on the topic of friendships this novel raises many more interesting questions, for example, what does it mean to have a best friend? What are the ground rules? What lines can you and should you not cross?The Ten Year Nap emphasizes that there is no right or wrong answers, and whatever lifestyle is right for you and your family is probably the best choice to make, but each person can only be responsible for her own choices. This point of view is a refreshing departure from being sold the `right way to do things¿ at every turn.
    nomadreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Lines worth remembering: "Later, when Jill tried to recreate the moment for Donald, she was unable to tell it n a way that gave it the real resonance is had possessed at the time." (p. 307)The irony of this sentence, of course, is that Meg Wolitzer does not have this problem at all. I finished The Ten-Year Nap last week, but it's one of those books I've struggled with explaining why I loved it so much. Offering you a brief synopsis won't even begin to it justice. Yes, it's the story of four fortyish women of the means to stop working to care for their children. Their children, however, are now to the age they don't require constant care, and the women find themselves differently struggling with their place. To me, these women together represent the cumulative struggles, both emotional, financial and professional of so many women. Wolitzer alternates chapters with stories of these women's mothers and others from prior generation to highlight their hopes and dreams for their daughters. It's a moving look at feminism and women's lives over the years. As a twenty-something feminist, I was surprised to find myself understanding the mothers' generation more. As the book continued to shed light into these womens' lives, however, Wolitzer's nuanced message of individuality in feminism shone through brilliantly. I loved it, plain and simple. My words can't do this book justice, because it's complexity is in its scope. It's a brilliant book, and the plot is not what the book itself is truly about.Many, many thanks to Penguin for letting me review this book. To supplement my review, check out their description of this truly wonderful novel.
    2chances on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The "ten-year nap" of Meg Wolitzer's title is the ten years that each of her female protagonists spends as an at-home mother. And before I review this book, I just want to say this: NAP??? Really, Meg Wolitzer? What an unbelievable insult to every woman (and man) who has worked her tail off caring for infants, toddlers, pre-, middle- and high school-aged children.The reviewer at Salon suggests that Wolitzer's "one agenda" is to "tell the truth about the lives" of at-home mothers. If this is a true portrait of their lives, it is one done in mind-numbing, monochromatic, institutional green. We meet Amy, once a half-hearted lawyer, now the mother of young Mason and the wife of Leo, who doesn't want to have sex with her. Her best friend, the gorgeous blonde Jill, lives in the suburbs and hasn't made a friend in a year, mostly because all she can think about is her bizarrely disproportionate terror that adopted daughter Nadia may have a learning disability. They are joined by Roberta, the absurdly stereotypical politically active Jewish artist, who has lost her ability to paint; and finally, Karen, (also a walking stereotype), an Asian mother of twins who enjoys nothing more than reciting the Fibonacci sequence to herself. With the exception of Karen, the least-developed of the four characters, all the women are deeply self-absorbed and miserable; each of them believes that her life, and yes, her self, is worthless, because she is no longer doing the job she worked at ten years ago.Now, forgive me if I sound harsh, but here were my exact thoughts: Okay. You had a choice between chocolate cake and apple pie. You chose the cake. Are you really going to spit out all your cake and fret endlessly about the pie you didn't choose? Or is it conceivable that you might grow up, acknowledge your choice, and ENJOY THE CAKE?i GOT SO SICK OF THESE WOMEN. I have to say, this is one of the dreariest, most joyless books I have ever read. If the women and their husbands hadn't been such obvious cartoons, I would say I would run for miles rather than spend any time with them; but since they never came to life, no worries. Wolitzer has an unpleasant habit of drawing pointless, ineffective metaphors ("'Mason,' she cried in a dry, fruitless voice."), but she occasionally tells a marvelous story: the one I liked was when Roberta was doing a puppet show for some children, and one of them stands up and cries, "OH MOMMY, WHEN WILL IT BE OVER?" Not only is that a funny story, it perfectly expresses my feelings as I plowed through this novel.