Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
Published April 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: my copy purchased for book club

Publisher's Summary:
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about:

Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”

Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”

Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”

Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.

My Thoughts:
I cannot wait to discuss this book with the Omaha Bookworms tonight and I am so hoping that we'll get a good turnout. For us a good turnout will mean us we'll have ladies any where from their mid-thirties to sixty and I'm eager to see what ladies of different ages think about it. I am just eight years younger than Quindlen so most of what she has to say resonants with me. I'm sure that the ladies that are closer to Quindlen's age are even more likely to be able to relate to what she has to say, particularly when she writes about aging and mortality.

When she writes about parenting, Quindlen writes about not only what it's like to be a parent but how parenting has changed and how her own perceptions about her mother and grandmother have changed over time. It can't help but make readers revisit the say they felt about their mothers growing up, especially if you grew up in the time when mothers stayed home and raised their children. It didn't take reading Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake for me to appreciate all that my mom did for me, including letting me have much more freedom than I thought I had. But Quindlen did make me stop and consider what my mom gave up when she had children.

Quindlen also writes about her faith, solitude, and the stuff we all have. All of it comes off as if you were having a conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee.
"Perhaps only when we've made our peace with our own shelves can we really be the kind of friends who listen, advise, but don't judge, or not too harshly."
Ms. Quindlen seems to have made peace with herself. In Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, she is becoming a friend to all women, sharing what she has learned with all of us.


  1. I adored this book. The author and I are the same age so you can imagine how easy it was to relate to much of what she wrote -- loved it.

  2. This book is an all-time favorite! I listened to the audio (narrated by the author) and had to buy a hardcover copy, too. It's a book I will read again and again.

  3. I can see why you were looking forward to your book club discussion of this book. It sounds like one that would speak to many different women on several different levels depending on where they are in life. This sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Lisa.