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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Hardcover – April 24, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 635 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Anna Quindlen
 
“A reporter by training, a storyteller at heart, [Quindlen’s] writing is personal, humorous, and thought-provoking.”—The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
“Quindlen is an astonishingly graceful writer.”—San Francisco Examiner
 
“Thank goodness for Anna Quindlen. [She] is smart. And compassionate. And witty. And wise.”—Detroit Free-Press
 
“[Quindlen is] America’s resident sane person.”—The New York Times

About the Author

Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear. She is the author of six novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, and Every Last One.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1St Edition edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069347
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (635 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At age 60, Anna Quindlen has already had plenty of candles and birthday cake, but she wants more. A lot more. Her own mother died in her early 40s, when Anna was just nineteen. That early loss has made her grateful for every additional year she gets that her mother was denied.

Anna's gratitude is the common ingredient that ties together these ruminations of an aging feminist baby boomer. She seems amazed, even somewhat astonished, at how fortunate she has been. She has reached an age where she can look back and recognize the combination of ambition and serendipity that allowed her to "have it all" in terms of marriage, motherhood, career, and friendship.

These essays will of course have the most appeal for those in Quindlen's age range whose life paths have somewhat paralleled hers. But if you've read her work before, you know she always shares observations and wisdom that are universally relevant. I like her spunk. I like her honesty. Most of all, I like the way she always manages to say the things I feel but cannot put into words. I recommend the book for all connoisseurs of life.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anna Quindlen has always seemed like a friend to me. She doesn't know me, but I know her, and we are very much alike. She was born one day before me, July 8, we both married young and maintained our profession. We each had three children. We have grown older together, and I have followed her through her New York Times articles, her novels and her Newsweek blogs. I have missed her writing, and now, here she is, writing about the times of her life.

Anna talks about her times of life from a child to young woman to aging adult. And, as she says, she realized that when one of her children told her 68 was elderly, and she tried to refute that and make her own definition of elderly, that 'Old is whatever you haven't gotten to yet'. Oh, I agree with that phrase. I am in my sixties, but I don't feel much older than forty, except that some parts of my body are lower than they used to be.

This is a book for all of us. A guidebook of sorts, of where we have been, where we are now and where we might be going. Anna tells us her story, but if you are of her age, it is all of our stories. With our time from early adult to an aging one. We have all collected 'stuff', and like Anna I could do without most of it. They are things that meant a lot and still do, but are only things. My computer holds most of the pictures I value. My children have the important things from their childhood. We raised our children the best we could. I was not a helicopter mother, I was too busy and that came years after. Like Anna, we were trying to raise our children, keep our marriage intact and work at the job we loved. This was after the women's revolution, we were the lucky recipients, but at an early age we felt the sexism inherent in our jobs.
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Several other reviewers nailed something bothersome or annoying that I couldn't quite pinpoint until I got halfway through this essay collection. Anna Quindlen wants all of us to relate to her -- and there was a time when she was the voice of women of her generation. Yet there's no escaping the obvious fact that she enjoys a life of privilege and accomplishment (not to mention a country house). Her viewpoints are clearly colored and shaped by this fact. I don't have a problem with her well-deserved achievements or privileges; I admire her very much. But she loses me when she tries to make it seem as if her readers are equally privileged buddies chatting in her living room. She left me baffled, too, after the odd Botox discussion.

I related to her more when she and I were busy young mothers ("Living Out Loud" is still my favorite). When I first read about her own mother's early death, I was deeply moved. Of course, this is one of Quindlen's defining stories, but we've all read it several times in her other non-fiction books.

The most interesting essay in this collection was the one about losing her religion. This piece took courage to write, and I imagine she is already taking the heat from devout Catholics. The book is worth a read, especially if you're a Quindlen fan, but it's not her best yet.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoy this author's work, and have read previous essays and books and left with a somewhat hopeful feeling. I didn't get that one so much with this one. In fact, I found this book a bit melodramatic. The tone was like listening to a friend who you know has it better than you and yet who focuses on what she doesn't have. She might have wealth and a husband that loves her, but she'll focus on one or two things in life she thinks she missing. This book gave me that same feeling, that you want to embrace her and love her and tell her it's going to be all right, but at the same time you can't understand what she is grousing about.

Quindlen is such a talented author, and I have enjoyed many previous works. I actually made a cup of tea and sat down to enjoy this book with excitement, but something in it really lacked. It's hard to pinpoint something other than the "tone" or the lack of an emotional pull, but that's what it comes down to for me.
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