Customer Reviews for

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

Average Rating 4
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(44)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(4)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

This is a delightful memoir that had me crying, laughing, reflec

This is a delightful memoir that had me crying, laughing, reflecting on my own life, and nodding my head along with Quindlen's experiences. I sadly have to admit, this is my first book I've read by Quindlen, but you can bet I will be reading more of her novels. If she...
This is a delightful memoir that had me crying, laughing, reflecting on my own life, and nodding my head along with Quindlen's experiences. I sadly have to admit, this is my first book I've read by Quindlen, but you can bet I will be reading more of her novels. If she can write so eloquently about her own life, I can't imagine how well she can create lives for others.

I had so many pages marked up from this book; things I want to remember with my children, quotes I want to write down, perspectives I want to rethink. I usually pass on my books to the local library after I am done reading them, but this one I will be keeping.

I think my favorite part of the book was the very beginning where Quindlen talks about the things she would tell her 22-year old self about life. I thought for a bit about that myself. What would I tell my 20 year old self as I am turning 40? What do I wish I had known then? That may be a post for later, but it would definitely include taking risks, savoring relationships, and having hope.

My second favorite part of the book includes Quindlen's take on conquering a headstand. How she physically didn't think it was possible, but was determined to build up her strength and finally, flipping her body into a complete headstand. It made me wonder, what is my "headstand"? What am I afraid to accomplish, do, conquer?

If you haven't figured out, I truly enjoyed this memoir, even not being familiar with the author. The book will encourage you to reflect on your own life, whether you are 22, 42, 62, 82, or somewhere in between. I guarantee you will leave with life lessons, wisdom and full-blown honesty.

If you are looking for a quick, enjoyable read, check out this book.

posted by SincerelyStacie on April 29, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

An enjoyable read for those of the baby boomer set. The author i

An enjoyable read for those of the baby boomer set. The author is frank and honest in revealing the pain stemming from her mother's early passing. Her love for and devotion to her family comes through loud and clear as she recounts past days as a newly married young wif...
An enjoyable read for those of the baby boomer set. The author is frank and honest in revealing the pain stemming from her mother's early passing. Her love for and devotion to her family comes through loud and clear as she recounts past days as a newly married young wife raising three children while also working in the journalism field, and later, as an author. For those with children and husband, this may be the common thread that would warrant rating the book 4 stars. For those without either, well, it may just turn you off or bore you.

Later in the book, she acknowledges the divide between women in her mother's generation, her own and her daughter's generation, how women's opportunities for career, family, etc. have changed. We, as women don't typically think on our opportunities or lack thereof in either arena. The author allows us to do that which is a good thing. It makes one think, and be thankful.

When it comes to her thoughts on aging, sadly always a hot topic for aging women, I think those of us middle-aged or older appreciated hearing her thoughts and connected with her feelings on the subject. Her views on religion, having been raised as a Catholic, were surprising, and I appreciated her straightforward, "like it or not, this is how I feel now", declaration. The last few chapters seemed to take on a much more serious, bordering on depressed cast. And, towards the end, I was trying to read as fast as I could; the melancholia and focus on death was difficult to read about, and the author, at only 60, seemed overly focused on it.

posted by 10589264 on May 29, 2012

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  • Posted April 26, 2012

    Becoming Ourselves Anna Quindlen’s Lots of Candles, Plent


    Becoming Ourselves
    Anna Quindlen’s Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, reflections on the first six decades of her life, is especially appealing to me as an older woman. Like the author, I raised a family while working outside our home. Other older women can relate to her joys and struggles to fulfill the traditional roles of a woman (wife, mother, and daughter) while advancing in a career. Written with optimism and gratitude for all that life offers, the author’s positive perspective on aging is evident when she writes “The older we get, the better we get at being ourselves.” I highly recommend this book.




    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When I used to get my Newsweek magazine in the mail, I would imm

    When I used to get my Newsweek magazine in the mail, I would immediately turn to the back page to see if this was the week for Anna Quindlen's column. She and her husband had children about the same age as our sons, and her politics were very similar to mine. It sometimes seemed that she was writing the same things I was feeling at that same moment.

    Her fiction books are very emotional, from Oprah Book Club selection Black and Blue to the heartbreaking Every Last One, her most recent one that tore me up. But I was thrilled to see that she had a new non-fiction book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, sharing what it's like to be a woman over 50. As I just hit that mark, I couldn't wait to read it.

    I read it on my Kindle while on the treadmill, and I knew that I would be adding many highlighted passages for review later, and I was right. Quindlen has been a big reader since she was child, just like me, and what she had to say about reading touched a chord with me.
    "That's what's so wonderful about reading, that books and poetry and essays make us feel as though we're connected, as though thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and nutty are sometimes shared by others, that we are all more alike than different."

    Qunidlen and her husband have three children, and I found her advice to them really hit the mark; she "believes the single most important decision they make is not where they live or what to do for a living, it's who they will marry." She says that "the span of their years will be so marked by the life they build, day by day, in tandem with each other." Twenty-five years of marriage to my wonderful husband bears out her wise words.

    She writes of her husband,
    "He is focused, diligent, and funny; I am distractible, perapatic, sometimes overly earnest. He is the first to criticize me privately and the first to defend me publicly. He has my back and he always has. That's not romantic, and it's not lyrical and it's not at all what I expected when I thought I would never want to spend a night without him."
    She talks about the importance of girlfriends, and the irony of the women's movement teaching us that we can be more than caregivers, and yet today many of us are now caring for not only young children but aging parents as well. Quindlen was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school (as I did), and I found her thoughts on religion intriguing and relevant in today's society.

    As we age, our health becomes a big topic of concern for us, and Quindlen addresses the changes we all go through. She lost her mother when she was barely out of her teens and that loss colored the rest of her life.

    Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a book that I will return to again and again, just to remind myself that there are others out there who are thinking the same things and walking the same path, and thank goodness Anna Quindlen is there to take us through it.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I’d classify this as “delightful”. I’d

    I’d classify this as “delightful”.

    I’d classify this as “delightful”. Anna Quindlen, 60 yrs old, shares insights she’s developed over the many years of experience in marriage, motherhood, career, friendships and all of the surrounding paths. She, as in most of us “baby boomers”, feels gratitude and relief at the acquired wisdom in this most savored time in her life. The experience of age makes us kind of connoisseurs of life and as time continues to move on, seemingly much faster now, we women develop a special feeling of camaraderie because we did it together and succeeded. We’ve all made choices, not always the right ones but even the wrong ones were learning experiences. This book is great validation of the time and the sacrifices and all the work to get to this point in our lives. We should cherish it. I highly recommend to young and old alike.


    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    As a woman of a certain age, I found that this book was so on-ta

    As a woman of a certain age, I found that this book was so on-target that it was almost as if the author had read my mind and then articulated my thoughts much more eloquently than I ever could have! Almost every sentence is a pearl of wisdom that could be stitched on a sampler, and yet it is not at all preachy, but more like a talk with your best friend. One of the best books I've ever read!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Have recommended it to friends & my book club!

    Usually read fiction, but this book makes me want to read Quemdlen's other books. Am 70 and it really hit home!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Captured what is in my head!

    I have been a long time fan of Anna Quindlen, but this memoir captured what is in my head on so many levels, from the effects of aging on our facial features to being "in control" and not letting others help us when what we really need is some help. This book resonnated with my book club, but what I really wish for is a column in Time Magazine!

    Thanks for the meomories!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    No matter how many candles, must read!

    I found myself in this phenomenal well-written memoir several times and I've already reached seniorhood! Very relatable and a good read. I am recommending this to all my "women friends" and "girl friends." Loved it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    My review is about the audiobook, which I borrowed from the libr

    My review is about the audiobook, which I borrowed from the library and now intend to buy.

    I was a longtime fan of Ms. Quindlen's essays and fiction, BUT... I had never *listened* to her before.
    And at first, I found her voice so grating and New York-y that I wasn't sure I could finish listening to this
    work. Then I became self-conscious about how many words one of us (undoubtedly ME) is
    mispronouncing - dour doesn't rhyme with sour, but is more "do-er", really?

    But I listened on. She is so drily funny and self-deprecating and real, that this memoir became
    something I chose to replay over and over again. She doesn't pull any punches - she explains why she
    is still Catholic AND has major problems with the church. How she could take credit for much of what
    she did in raising her children, but some of it was plain sloth. How she enjoys her solitude, her
    marriage, depends upon her girlfriends, is choosing to rewrite the messages in her head that say "you
    can't do that," and shares honestly and poignantly about the many ways her mother's death has
    impacted her, something we have in common. She also takes a look at the changing roles of women
    over time, from the stay-at-home moms to those EXPECTED to work outside the home AND raise the
    kids.

    I think this work is relatable for most boomer women, but also for men, and for the generations that
    have followed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Thank you again, Anna for nailing all the thoughts in my head as

    Thank you again, Anna for nailing all the thoughts in my head as i ride the train home from NYC to Westchester County. Its every moms life out loud. Great read and rationalizes your "crazy".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    She wrote about me!

    I read this book on my Nook but think I should purchase a hard copy to share. The author's perspective mirrors my own on so many points. The names and the faces have been changed, but the similarities......

    Although I will turn 65 in January, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2012

    . "Lots of Candles" is the autobiography of a woman wh

    .
    "Lots of Candles" is the autobiography of a woman who has worked hard, done her best, and earned a few extra perks along the way.

    Anna Quindlen is turning sixty. "Lots of Candles" is a memoir composed of a series of reflective essays about Quindlen's life and family. She is taking stock of where she has been and where she is going.

    Most traditional middle-aged wives and mothers will intuitively understand where Anna Quindlen is coming from. Anna is a baby boomer jubilantly doing a head stand, accidently discovering dog hair and lost earrings under her dresser. Yes. Life is like that.

    Approaching old age is a strange adventure for us all. How did we get here? What does it mean? Surely, this phase of life is not the birthday present we expected. Before opening this final package, Quindlen is tying up personal loose ends, pondering retirement and eventual death, compiling her thoughts and memories at the request of her daughter.

    Quindlen's real gift is one of noticing nuances, finding comfort in the mundane, happiness in predictability. She has an appreciation for the strength of character needed to provide family stability and structure. In many ways, she is our generation's answer to Peg Bracken and Erma Bombeck.

    As I read "Lots of Candles," I thought of this book's importance to future historians, sociologists and museum professionals. It has an accuracy that is rare--capturing the details, the changing social and cultural norms, the memories and observations of an educated middle class wife and mother living in an era book-ended by the Eisenhower and Obama administrations.

    Readers who want spicier, more dramatic material should look elsewhere. There is no divorce, no abuse, no shocking revelation, no cry of anguish here. Those whose lives have taken different turns will have different tales to tell.

    If you are younger, you may not be ready for this book. Save it to read as you approach sixty. If you have had a traumatic, tumultuous life, read 'The Glass Castle" instead.

    This is not a how-to book. It is an autobiography, a memoir, a motherly book, an old-fashioned book. "Lots of Candles" is a refreshing book about family life, stability and personal growth in an age of constant change.

    Kim Burdick
    Stanton, Delaware

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    Highly Recommended!

    Anna Quindlen has used her years of writing experience to hone the subject of aging and change. Both changes from within and without, and she causes one to ponder on the goodness of life and the frailties of humans. Women will especially enjoy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2012

    Harry Styles

    Srry go to candles result 2...

    1 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Loved the book

    I have been a fan of Anna Quindlen since her days of writing the Her column in the NYTimes. We grew up in the same time and her essays are very relatable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013

    Jack.

    Well i thought u ditched me. So tell me bout urself

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Holly

    So i have straight brown hair witha diamond clip in the side. Tight neon pink tank top and very short shorts. Tell me about ur self... Jake

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2013

    Reflective of a life well lived.

    Reflective of a life well lived.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Keith

    Hey

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    Must read

    I enjoyed every minute of this book. I didn't want it to end. Aging who would have thought to embrace it?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    Bravo Anna

    Wish i could give it ten stars Another first rate Quindlen book
    Seriously its for her type of reader though
    Worth it if you are

    Nookfanatic

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