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The Uncoupling Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 5, 2011

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 5, 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Printing edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159448788X
  • ASIN: B005K5DVO2
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,415,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest from Wolitzer (The Ten Year Nap) is a plodding story with a killer hook: will the women of Stellar Plains, N.J., ever have sex again? After new high school drama teacher Fran Heller begins rehearsals for Lysistrata (in which the women of Greece refuse to have sex until the men end the Peloponnesian War), every girl and woman in the community is overcome by a "spell" that causes them to lose all desire for sex. No one is immune, not Dory Lang and her husband, Robby, the most popular English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School; not Leanne Bannerjee, the beautiful school psychologist; or the overweight college counselor Bev Cutler, shackled to a callous hedge-fund manager husband. The Langs' teenaged daughter, Willa, who eventually lands the lead in the play, is also afflicted, wreaking havoc on her relationship with Fran's son, Eli. Despite the great premise and Wolitzer's confident prose, the story never really picks up any momentum, and the questions posed—about parenthood, sacrifice, expectations, and the viability of long-term relationships in the age of Twitter—are intriguing but lack wallop. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Life begins to imitate art when Stellar Plains� edgy new drama teacher decides to stage Lysistrata as the high school�s annual production. Faculty, administrators, and students alike are literally enchanted by Aristophanes� mordant antiwar comedy. Women and girls who are otherwise happily married or in a blossoming relationship suddenly decide to withhold their affections from their husbands, lovers, and boyfriends. The once passionate sex life of popular English teachers Robby and Dory Lang abruptly ends, as does the nascent relationship of their daughter Willa, who sharply breaks up with her first boyfriend. Most affected of all, however, is Marissa Clayborn, the charismatic young black girl cast in the play�s lead, who decides to stage her own �bed-in� sex strike in protest of the war in Afghanistan. When Marissa fails to appear on opening night, all hell breaks loose as spurned men storm the stage demanding the resumption of normal relations. While zestfully exploring the nexus between complacency and desire, Wolitzer�s hip, glib, impish scenario shrewdly examines the intricate connections between war and sex and perceptively illuminates the power of timeless literature. --Carol Haggas

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Customer Reviews

I was magically drawn into all of the characters' lives.
Alex S.
Unfortunately the book was a disappointment and in the end this reader felt that her time could have been better spent reading something else.
The one complaint I would have is that the book had too many characters for my liking.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By IRG VINE VOICE on April 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was eager to read this book, given the possibilities of the premise as set in contemporary society. Sadly, there were no real character insights or any new ideas explored here, in my opinion. And while I won't reveal the ending, let's say that it's pretty much a cop-out. (and you will probably have figured it out as well)

The way the story is set up and revealed pretty much limits the outcome, from the start. And, unlike say Practical Magic, which had me believing in some pretty implausible situations and outcomes, this story just left me shaking my head in disbelief as it progressed (you can't have it both ways; it's either a magical/mystical tale or real life. This is neither.)

The only upside for me is that it created the desire to reread Lysistrata.

It left me feeling empty and wishing there had been more, as in more of what the characters, male and female, were really thinking and feeling.

I had high hopes for this book (there have been lots of reviews that make it seem magical and insightful) but though it was a fast read, it was also rather banal. No real insights into the females (or men) here and very little real reflection on the impact of the sea-change. And the "how" of the sea-change really didn't work well as written.

This could have been so much more. I admire the author for attempting to bring light to a topic that does resonate for contemporary women--what happens when desire seems to have disappeared. And for calling attention to Lysistrata (but even that got short shrift in the book!)
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By bookkook on April 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story moves the plot of an ancient play (Lysistrata) to modern suburban New Jersey, where it becomes magic. I thought the idea was incredibly clever when I read the review and I still do. The plot of Lysistrata is that the women of ancient Greece agree among themselves to deny any sex to the men until the Peloponnesian war is ended. Here, the same cooling effect by the women comes back in the modern suburb involuntarily, in the form of a spell when the play (edited to be more age appropriate) is staged by the local high school. The spell takes all local women one by one - cooling the ardor of teenagers, both in the passion of a first relationship and as well as those sexually active but not really sure why or whether they enjoy it. It also takes young mothers with happy relationships in spite of their weariness, women in later stages of long,happy marriages, and even middle aged women who've 'let themselves go' and were celibate or nearly so within their marriages. The way that these emotions are expressed by all of these various women as they experience the spell and the change in their desires and in their views is masterful. The reaction among the men to the loss ranges among anger, patience, sadness,fear, and barely noticing. Wherever your stage in life and whatever your experience you are overwhelmingly likely to identify with someone in this fictional town.

I was disappointed by the way that the spell was resolved, with a highly dramatic, very quick ending. It felt deflating after all of the good work and good writing that had been done to understand and express the complex emotions of these women and men. It would have been more rewarding to continue the individual perspectives in more detail and explore the emotions more fully as they recovered.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hoosier Girl on April 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Muriel Rukeyser said that if one woman told the truth about her life the world would split open. I was hoping this would be one of those books that might, if not split open the world, at least illuminate a bit of the fault line. And to its credit, it does shed some light on the mysterious sexual chill that takes women of a certain age, in particular, by surprise. The spell, the central conceit of the book, is such a great metaphor for the exploration of women's sexuality and desire. I really wanted, was hoping for, more complex characters and more insight into that mystery.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By debbie on May 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read this book pretty quickly...not because it was so good, but because I couldn't believe that this was really all there was.
Here's a book about women who have a spell cast over them, that forces them to not want to have sex with their husbands, or their boyfriends, and the author simply refuses to delve any deeper then that. She absolutely skims the surface of relationships without sex, and this was an annoyingly quick read because there was nothing to it. This should have been insightful and controversial. This should have had something to it, some angle, however much we, as the reader disagreed. But it's as if the author wasn't really interested in writing this story at all. And the outcome? - SPOILER ALERT - The spells lifted and everyone's fine and the wrapping up?....Sometimes relationships get old, and you need to stir things up. Oh the clarity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ashertopia TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What would you do if you were suddenly placed under a spell that made you no longer attracted to the opposite sex in an intimate way?

That is the exact question that every woman is faced with in Stellar Plains, NJ in Meg Wolitzer's latest book The Uncoupling. The main characters in The Uncoupling are The Lang's, a couple with a strong marriage, and even a stronger love for each other. Robby and Dory Lang have a relationship that is envied by all of their peers. Both Robby and Dory work as English teachers at Stellar Plains High School. Dory is one of the first people affected by the spell, but soon the rest of the female population of the small New Jersey town are under enchantment. No one understands what has caused this spell or how they can get their lives back to the way they once were. Women everywhere are disgusted at the thought of being touched by their significant other or any man in general for that matter.

While the entire town is in a state of confusion about the sudden abstinence, a new drama teacher at Stellar Plains is directing the play "Lysistrata" which is a Greek play based around the idea of women turning men down sexually in order to end a war.

During the play's opening night, men stop the play to make a plea with their wives to be intimate with them once more. Once this happens the spell is broken and the town goes back to normal.

While I love the idea around the spell and the fact that it is suppose to teach the townspeople to appreciate the love that they have with their spouse, I found the book very predictable. I did, however, enjoy the fact that Wolitzer told the story of many characters being struck by the spell. It made me look at relationships in a different light and realize that intimacy can play a very important role in marriage.

Review originally published at BookGateway. This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.
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