Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Read by Rebecca Lowman
Published April 2018 by Penguin Publishing Group
Source: checked out the audiobook from my library

Publisher's Summary: 
To be admired by someone we admire—we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer—madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place—feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

My Thoughts:
It's official - I am not Wolitzer's biggest fan. I've suspected as much when I've read other books she's written (The Ten-Year Nap, The Uncoupling, and The Interestings) but this time I was certain that I was going to be blown away by her writing. I mean, this book got rave reviews. Kirkus Reviews, which I feel has issues with every book they review, called The Female Persuasion "the perfect feminist blockbuster." I'm all about feminism so this should be perfect for me, I should finally really be able to connect with one of Wolitzer's novels.

Meh - not so much.

An anonymous reviewer on Barnes and Noble's site had this to say:
"I'm considering building a video game where no one can find the plot to this book. People will search everywhere and it will go into excruciating detail about all the characters' back stories as well as forecast the details of their future. Gamers will try to guess what it is that will actually "happen" and keep playing and playing learning little cliches about how life is hard and disappointing but also sometimes kind of great. And sometimes the players will level up but it won't last, they'll end up going back down levels in confusion because, guess what? The game will have no plot, no way to win. No way to ever let the player succeed and I'm thinking that way players will *have to come back for more!"
It's perhaps a little harsh; the book is not entirely without a plot. But the larger point is that it keeps getting lost in never ending backstories that keep popping up well into the book. Maybe Wolitzer's point is to remind readers that things are not always as they appear on the surface. Valid point. And Wolitzer certainly explores many of the issues that face women these days, that are foremost in the minds of feminists (and should be foremost in the minds of most women). She addresses campus sexual assault and the responses of college administrations, abortion, social activism, sexual orientation, finding our voice, and empowerment. Along the way, Wolitzer touches on other important themes including fidelity, loss, compromise, chasing your dreams, and friendship.

There's a lot going on here and I'm not suggesting it's not a good book; it is a good book. And at least it didn't make me angry, like The Ten-Year Nap did. Like all of Wolitzer's books, it made me think, which I find important in a book. But I've been convinced to read four of Wolitzer's books now, which is a lot by one author for me. She has yet to really blow me away with her writing and I am always look for the books that will blow me away. It's time to stop looking at Wolitzer to do that.


  1. Thank you for the interesting and honest review.

  2. I don't think I connected with any one character in this one but I felt like it was very well done. I didn't like it as much as The Interestings but I liked it enough and I think it made my fave list, if I remember correctly. I do think that books with a feminists slant tend to be a little angry. I sensed that with this one too. Who need angry these days? I get it, though.

  3. I tried to read (or should I say, listen) to The Interestings, but finally gave up. I'm not as patient as you and doubt I would try four of her books. Thanks for your honest assessment of this one. I know she has a big fan base, but I don't think she's for me.