The Interestings
From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.


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The Uncoupling
When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play “Lysistrata”— the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war — a strange spell seems to be cast over the school. Or, at least, over the women. One by one throughout the high school community, perfectly healthy, normal women and teenage girls turn away from their husbands and boyfriends in the bedroom for reasons they don’t really understand. As the women worry over their loss of passion, and the men become by turns, unhappy, offended, and, above all, confused, both sides are forced to look at their partners, their shared history, and their sexual selves in a new light.

As she did to such acclaim with the
New York Times bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles a serious issue that has deep ramifications for women’s lives, in a way that makes it funny, riveting, and totally fresh—allowing us to see our own lives through her insightful lens.

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The Ten-Year Nap
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 here—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.

Reading Group Guide

 


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The Position
Crackling with intelligence and original humor, The Position is a masterful take on sex and the suburban American family at the hilarious height of the sexual revolution and throughout the thirty–year hangover that followed.

In 1975, suburban parents Paul and Roz Mellow write a Joy of Sex–type book called Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment, which becomes a surprise runaway bestseller. The Position opens with the four Mellow children, aged six to fifteen, at the moment when they see the mortifying book (and the graphic, pastel illustrations of their parents' creative, vigorous lovemaking) for the very first time— an experience that will forever complicate their ideas about sex, parents, families, and themselves.

Thirty years later, as the now-dispersed family members argue about whether to reissue the book, we follow the complicated lives of each of the grown children as they confront their own struggles with love, work, sex, death, and the indelible early specter of their erotically charged parents.

Some novels are about family, and others are about sex. The Position is about sex within the context of a family. Insightful, witty, panoramic, and heartbreaking, it is a compulsively readable novel about an eternally mystifying subject: how a group of people growing up in one house can become so very different from one another.

 


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The Wife: A Novel
"The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty–five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage."

So opens Meg Wolitzer's compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan's husband, Joseph Castleman, is one of America's preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop.

From this gripping opening, Wolitzer flashes back fifty years to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village -- the beginning of the Castleman relationship — and follows the course of the famous marriage that has brought them to this breaking point, culminating in a shocking ending that outs a carefully kept secret.

Wolitzer's most important and ambitious book to date, The Wife is a wise, sharp–eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she's made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it's also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man's world.

 

 


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Surrender, Dorothy
Sara Swerdlow and Adam Langer are in many ways the ideal Manhattan pair. Their relationship is unvexed by the strains of sexual attraction, since both prefer men, and has even survived Adam's huge early success as “the gay Neil Simon.” This couple, after all, can commiserate about lovers, talk about their favorite types, and ponder "the puzzlingly popular aesthetic of boxer shorts, which transformed all men into their uncles." Each August, along with their married friends Maddy and Peter, they rent the perfect Long Island wreck, complete with impossible landlady. Now that they're all 30, each is clinging to the last vestiges of youth--and a little concerned that Maddy and Peter's baby, not to mention Adam's new boyfriend, will alter the chemistry. But what no one can possibly know is that an accident will put Sara entirely out of the picture and bring her grieving, eccentric mother into it.

Killing off her ostensible heroine so early in Surrender, Dorothy may initially seem a bizarre undertaking, since Meg Wolitzer's fans would be more than content with her take on the foursome's summer holiday. The author, let's recall, is an expert social observer, and can turn a divinely comic phrase in her sleep. But in her fifth novel Wolitzer is aiming for more, and her expertly controlled scenes slide from charming farce to deeper melancholy. Set in a temporary summer rental, Surrender, Dorothy is really about the permanence of loss and revelation.

 


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Other books by Meg Wolitzer:
This Is Your Life
Hidden Pictures
Sleepwalking