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The Summer Without Men: A Novel Paperback – April 26, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Exuberant… A lighter, more lilting meditation on men and women, released in perfect time for summer reading… Hustvedt is a fearless writer… The reward for readers comes in the sheer intelligence of her prose… There is terrific writing here, mulling the gifts and limits of art, sex, marriage, but the touch is emphatically light… She's managed not to shrink the truth of women's lives, without relinquishing love for men.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Siri Hustvedt's engaging first novel…is a fragmented meditation on identity, abandonment, and loss. Multiple forms of prose pepper the narrative: poems, letters, e-mails, journal entries, and quotes from a raft of well-known scholars, scientists, and writers … Hustvedt manages to move seamlessly between Blake and Rilke to Kierkegaard and Hegel while maintaining a forward motion to this fluid narrative… Satsifying.” ―Boston Globe
“Elegant… a smart and surprisingly amusing meditation on love, friendship and sexual politics.” ―The Miami Herald
“An investigation into romantic comedy, both the classic Hollywood version―‘love as verbal war’―and Jane Austen’s Persuasion… Among the novel’s pleasures are its analysis of gender…and the character of Mia herself, who comes across as honest, witty and empathetic.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“This brisk, ebullient novel is a potpourri of poems, diary entries, emails and quicksilver self-analysis... The noisy chorus in Mia's head has an appealing way of getting inside the reader's too.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“A mesmerizing and powerful meditation on marriage, the differences between the sexes, aging and what it means to be a woman…. Truly breathtaking… Rich with both the pleasures and sorrows that make life complete, this is a powerful and provocative novel that will have astute readers reconsidering where exactly the boundaries between truth and fiction lie.” ―Bookpage
“Mia Frederickson, the poet narrator of The Summer Without Men… is blessed with empathy, irony and a healthy dose of feminist outrage at the way women's minds and bodies are routinely devalued… [Hustvedt's] finely wrought descriptions of everything from love to mean girls to marital sex make [The Summer Without Men] well worth reading.” ―Associated Press
“[Hustvedt's] finely wrought descriptions of everything from love to mean girls to marital sex make [The Summer Without Men] well worth reading.” ―Associated Press
“Composed in tight vivid prose, The Summer Without Men is energetic, and handles its subjects with depth and wit, painting its characters and their complex emotions in the kind of detail that rings true to life.” ―Bibliokept.org
“Breathtaking… hilarious… What a joy it is to see Hustvedt have such mordant fun in this saucy and scathing novel about men and women, selfishness and generosity…. Hustvedt has created a companionable and mischievous narrator to cherish, a healthy-minded woman of high intellect, blazing humor, and boundless compassion.” ―Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
“Intellectually spry… An adroit take on love, men and women, and girls and women.” ―Publisher's Weekly
“[A] 21st century riff on the 19th-century Reader-I-married-him school of quiet insurgent women's fiction… Tart comments on male vs. female styles of writing-and reading-novels are a delight… A smart, sassy reflection on the varieties of female experience.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
On a mission of self-appraisal, Mia is booted from domestic security to the charged rooms of the elderly friends, from Georgiana, 102, to the physically-twisted, yet sharply intelligent Abigail, 94, who stitches hidden pornography into her intricate pieces, an old woman's small rebellion against the conventions of her generation. The Five Swans view Mia as a baby, their wisdom honed of strength, endurance and abiding friendships: "In a place like this, many people aren't touched enough." Drifting between worlds, between lives, Mia is prone to bursts of anger, grief, cathartic verse and a profound appreciation of what it means to be female.Read more ›
So starts this mordant comedy from Siri Hustvedt, a novelist of considerable talent. Mia finds herself eventually caught between a continuum of women -her mother and the other octogenarian widows whom she promptly dubs "the five swans" on one end, and the seven catty adolescent girls who compose her poetry class on the other.
As Mia gingerly and then firmly enters her "summer without men", she strives to emerge from the overbearing shadow of Boris, whose "pause", predictably, is not much more than that. It's a good conceit but somehow, it just doesn't come together.
The consortium of women are difficult to keep straight. The young girls never emerge as individuals (with one exception); the whole really is bigger than the sum of the parts. Ditto for the "five swans", who all seem to be part of one big geriatric "whole." There are some scenes that shine; for example, Abigail, one of the elderly women, reveals embroideries that are actually private amusements, little scenes within scenes. "They don't see it, you know," Abigail stroked a hearing aid cord as she tilted her head. "Most of them. They see only when they expect to see, sugar, not spice, if you comprehend my meaning."
Unfortunately, though, for this reader, those scenes were few, although the good ones are worth their weight in gold.Read more ›
Hustvedt's novel felt like a brief history of womanhood, feminism and a woman's place in society. It was very interesting to see these themes dissected and analyzed in the context of a broken marriage and mental illness.
Hustvedt is obviously a very intelligent author but she tries too hard to impress and unfortunately comes off as pretentious. The book is also dragged down by the protagonist's overwhelming pessimism. Hustvedt makes acute commentary on female friendships and relationships but the book never manages to resonate with the reader because it is written with a lack of warmth. This book is great for readers looking for "chick lit" with brains.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fine writing in a sensitive story about females of all ages. It truly was a "summer without men" or at least very many and none were major characters in this novel.Published 4 months ago by JOAN S. WHITING
I would like to read more by this author. She is quite witty and I like how widely read she is. Some readers have quibbled that the main character shouldn't have fallen apart... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Diann
A very literary piece of work with many references to classic literary works, good character development, interesting main plot and subplots. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Stephen A. Timm
Siri Hustvedt gives the reader a clear eyed view of old age through her 90 year old mother and friends in the retirement community, her own slightly later than midlife crisis and a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by aleta Chossek
A bad novel by a wonderful writer. Actually my favourite contemporary writer.Published 15 months ago by Cecilia Duhau
I couldn't read this book because it was printed in about 4-point type. I bought a magnifying glass, and that didn't even help.Published 15 months ago by Vincent