THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN by SIRI HUSTVEDT.
After Mia Fredricksen's husband of thirty years asks for a pause - to indulge his infatuation with a young French colleague - she cracks up (briefly), rages (deeply), then decamps to the prairie home of her childhood to consider her position. It's a familiar scenario, though what transpires in this provocative, mordant and vivacious tragicomedy is anything but predictable.
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Page 1, there are no chapters): Sometimes after he said the word pause, I went mad and landed in the hospital.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 57): When I listened idly to their talk during the minutes before we began and after I dismissed them, I often felt the girl's speech was interchangeable, without any individuality whatsoever, a kind of herd-speak they had all agreed upon, with the exception of Alice, whose diction was not infected with as many likes and sos, and yet even she fell into the curious and moronic dialect of Early Female.
MY THOUGHTS: May's Reading Group read and just like March I'm afraid it's another nul points from me (yes, I know, I've rated it 1 on Amazon and GoodReads but that's just because neither site allows for less).
Woman is left by husband after 30 years of marriage (he wants a pause), said woman turns into a lunatic (the authors words and not mine) and, diagnosed with Brief Psychotic Disorder, ends up spending time in a psychiatric hospital before going home where she tutors a group of young girls in poetry ...... so far, so good.
But, pretentious in the extreme - full of philosophising (that I for one could never quite fathom), terrible poetry and, oh, the occasional pen and ink illustration - I'm afraid for me the whole novel lacked any real insight
Not altogether without though. I did quite like the elderly eccentric widows known as the Five Swans but, just as with the rest of the characters, I felt that all of main character Mia's constant musing meant that we never really got to know them as we might have.
At best, a chore to read. At worst? Largely self-indulgent ramblings.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: A Reading Group read, alas not a book I shall be buying for our home library.
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