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The Uncoupling
     

The Uncoupling

3.0 44
by Meg Wolitzer, Angela Brazil (Narrated by)
 

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As with her bestselling The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles another riveting, relevant issue for women's lives. When the new drama teacher chooses to stage the Greek play Lysistrata—in which women swear off sex to stop a war—a similar spell affects the high school community, forcing everyone to look at their sexual selves in new light.

When the

Overview

As with her bestselling The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles another riveting, relevant issue for women's lives. When the new drama teacher chooses to stage the Greek play Lysistrata—in which women swear off sex to stop a war—a similar spell affects the high school community, forcing everyone to look at their sexual selves in new light.

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 shared history, and at their sexual selves in a new light.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
A high school production of Lysistrata, a Greek play about women who conduct a sex strike to end a long civil war, casts an enchantment over the females in a suburban New Jersey town. Women of all ages begin to reject their husbands and lovers as the rehearsals begin. They can neither explain it nor overcome their need to lead sexless lives. Wolitzer weaves an interesting modern story, paralleling an ancient one. However, the resolution is something of a letdown. The literary mechanism of jumping from present to past for each character is overused and somewhat tedious. Well read by Angela Brazil, this book will appeal to readers of modern fiction. Recommended. ["Wolitzer again tackles a complicated and provocative subject, female sexuality, with creativity and insight," read the starred review of the Riverhead: Penguin hc, LJ 2/1/11; the Riverhead pb will publish in March 2012.—Ed.]—Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
Ron Charles
The drama teacher tells her students that Lysistrata is "a comedy, yes. But what it's about is something quite serious," and the same thing might be said about The Uncoupling. In the light patter of her novel, Wolitzer diagnoses the troubles that ruin so many marriages, break up so many families…Wolitzer is a tender, engaging narrator.
—The Washington Post
Jincy Willett
Although The Uncoupling is enchanting from start to finish, that owes less to the spell than it does to the way Wolitzer liberally and inventively populates her storytelling. When writers turn to the supernatural, their characters often suffer, losing dimension and I.Q. points as their creators bat them around. But Wolitzer has too much respect for her craft to let this happen. Her characters would be engaging even without that cold, intrusive wind…Thoughtful and touching, The Uncoupling is also very funny.
—The New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Meg Wolitzer deserves to be a household name.
San Francisco Review
"The Uncoupling" is a smooth and often enchanting read that reveals a wry understanding of modern relationships and generations. Wolitzer's teens are all obsessed with the virtual world "Farrest" (Marissa's avatar is a soaring hawk) while their parents wonder why, if the kids wanted "a real forest spelled the normal way" they don't just take a picnic lunch to the nearby nature preserve. You feel like you know these people, this community, these anxious 40-somethings watching the flushed-faced teens. For the young ones, Dory ponders, there's still something brand-new ahead — "the love that lay waiting like a web page as yet undesigned, or maybe even like a forest as yet unwalked in."--(Moira Macdonald)
bookpage.com
Wolitzer—perhaps best known for her novel The Ten Year Nap—masterfully charts the peaks and falls of desire that naturally come with age. Brutally honest, and incredibly surreal, Wolitzer is able to perfectly tap into the female psyche by displaying to male and female readers alike what actually happens when the lights go off and the covers are turned down.--(Megan Fishmann)
People
Stunningly insightful, characteristically hilarious.(four stars)
The New York Times Book Review
Enchanting from start to finish…Thoughtful and touching, The Uncoupling is also very funny.
ABC News
Superbly written, wry yet compassionate, Meg Wolitzer's The Uncoupling is uncommonly good.
USA Today
Meg Wolitzer has a knack for inviting readers into the bedrooms of her protagonists and then slyly but oh so tastefully reminding readers that their (sex) lives are not so different from those of her fictional couples.
Entertainment Weekly
Wolitzer writes with barbed insight.
The Wall Street Journal
A sage exploration of the role of sex in both sustaining and wrecking relationships.
More
Lifting the veil on intimacy that has ‘caved in and collapsed,' Wolitzer has written a novel that may tempt you to muse on the ups and downs of your own erotic life.
From the Publisher
"While zestfully exploring the nexus between complacency and desire, Wolitzer's hip, glib, impish scenario shrewdly examines the intricate connections between war and sex and perceptively illuminates the power of timeless literature."
Booklist (starred) "Wolitzer's new novel, after The Ten-Year Nap and The Position, is another well-written and engrossing tale. And this one is definitely more of a tale than a story. In the town of Stellar Plains, NJ, a new, bohemian drama teacher arrives at the local high school. She selects as the school play Lysistrata, Aristophanes' comedy in which the women decide to stop having sex with their men to convince them to stop fighting in a war. As the actors rehearse, a cool wind of a spell passes through the women of Stellar Plains. It touches other teachers and students alike. The chill makes the women want to abstain from sex. So what happens when an entire town of women start to push away their men for no apparent reason? Otherwise happy couples break up. The novel flits from English teacher to gym teacher to the lead actress in the play and on and on. It reads and infects like a dreamy fairy tale with beautifully expressive and strangely enticing writing. VERDICT Wolitzer again tackles a complicated and provocative subject, female sexuality, with creativity and insight. Her fans and readers of women's fiction that's smart and snappy will want this."
Library Journal (starred)

"Wolitzer makes it work, thanks to sharp characterizations and acute observations on everything from the digital generation gap to the accommodations made in a long marriage. . . . A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home."
Kirkus

"A high-school performance of Lysistrata has a mysterious effect: The women of a New Jersey town become increasingly disinterested in sex with their partners. In the alternately hilarious and poignant events that follow, couples reexamine their relationships."
Ms.

"Meg Wolitzer, like Tom Perrotta, is an author who makes you wonder why more people don't write perceptive, entertaining, unassuming novels about how and why ordinary people choose to make decisions about their lives....The Uncoupling is a novel that can't help but make you think about your own relationship-about what it consists of, what would be left if sex were taken away, how far you'd be prepared to go in order to keep it in your life somewhere, and so on."
Nick Hornby, The Believer

"Wolitzer writes of a spell cast upon a town-but she superbly casts it upon the reader as well. This deftly written tale of bewildered women (and their men) is always surprising and always engaging, both funny and serious at the same time, a wonderful read."
Elizabeth Strout, New York Timesbestselling author of Olive Kitteridge

"In this fiercely funny, playful and always tender novel, Meg Wolitzer glories in the drama and the magic of falling in and out of love... and bed. The Uncoupling is, happily, a very sexy fable about sexual ennui."
Cathleen Schine, New York Timesbestselling author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport

Library Journal
Wolitzer's new novel, after The Ten-Year Nap and The Position, is another well-written and engrossing tale. And this one is definitely more of a tale than a story. In the town of Stellar Plains, NJ, a new, bohemian drama teacher arrives at the local high school. She selects as the school play Lysistrata, Aristophanes' comedy in which the women decide to stop having sex with their men to convince them to stop fighting in a war. As the actors rehearse, a cool wind of a spell passes through the women of Stellar Plains. It touches other teachers and students alike. The chill makes the women want to abstain from sex. So what happens when an entire town of women start to push away their men for no apparent reason? Otherwise happy couples break up. The novel flits from English teacher to gym teacher to the lead actress in the play and on and on. It reads and infects like a dreamy fairy tale with beautifully expressive and strangely enticing writing. VERDICT Wolitzer again tackles a complicated and provocative subject, female sexuality, with creativity and insight. Her fans and readers of women's fiction that's smart and snappy will want this. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/10.]—Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC
Kirkus Reviews

Not previously known for whimsy, Wolitzer (The Ten-Year Nap, 2008, etc.) uses a magical premise to launch her sharp-eyed assessment of sexual desire in its permutations across generations and genders.

A high-school production of Lysistrata casts a "spell" that causes every woman in the town of Stellar Plains, N.J., to lose interest in sex. That includes teenaged Willa Lang, who has barely had time to enjoy her first real romance, as well as her mother Dory, whose sudden indifference after years of enthusiastic marital intimacies pains and puzzles husband Robby. Dory and Robby are English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, where new drama teacher Fran Heller is rehearsing Aristophanes' centuries-old comedy about women withholding sex to stop war—which inspires the play's star, Marissa Clayborn, to stage her own "sex strike" to call attention to the conflict in Afghanistan. The spell isn't the best fit for a writer of Wolitzer's comic gifts, and at first it seems like a long way to go to get to the novel's best scene, in which five female teachers ruefully remember the thrill of youthful physical love and its slow devolution into routine or obligation. The wincing recognition prompted by their comments is matched by the author's compassionate portraits of mostly decent, loving men unnerved by a sea change they can't comprehend or cope with. Hardest hit is Fran's son Eli, so distressed by Willa's rejection that he heads for his father's home in Michigan; Fran and husband Lowell decided long ago that the way to keep passion fresh was to live apart. The performance of Lysistrata, with Willa subbing for sex-striking Marissa, provokes a general healing that skirts perilously close to contrivance and sticky sentiment, but Wolitzer makes it work, thanks to sharp characterizations and acute observations on everything from the digital generation gap to the accommodations made in a long marriage.

A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792776154
Publisher:
AudioGO
Publication date:
04/01/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are Saying About This

Nick Hornby
“Meg Wolitzer, like Tom Perrotta, is an author who makes you wonder why more people don't write perceptive, entertaining, unassuming novels about how and why ordinary people choose to make decisions about their lives….The Uncoupling is a novel that can't help but make you think about your own relationship––about what it consists of, what would be left if sex were taken away, how far you'd be prepared to go in order to keep it in your life somewhere, and so on.” --(Nick Hornby, The Believer)
From the Publisher
"While zestfully exploring the nexus between complacency and desire, Wolitzer's hip, glib, impish scenario shrewdly examines the intricate connections between war and sex and perceptively illuminates the power of timeless literature."
-Booklist (starred) "Wolitzer's new novel, after The Ten-Year Nap and The Position, is another well-written and engrossing tale. And this one is definitely more of a tale than a story. In the town of Stellar Plains, NJ, a new, bohemian drama teacher arrives at the local high school. She selects as the school play Lysistrata, Aristophanes' comedy in which the women decide to stop having sex with their men to convince them to stop fighting in a war. As the actors rehearse, a cool wind of a spell passes through the women of Stellar Plains. It touches other teachers and students alike. The chill makes the women want to abstain from sex. So what happens when an entire town of women start to push away their men for no apparent reason? Otherwise happy couples break up. The novel flits from English teacher to gym teacher to the lead actress in the play and on and on. It reads and infects like a dreamy fairy tale with beautifully expressive and strangely enticing writing. VERDICT Wolitzer again tackles a complicated and provocative subject, female sexuality, with creativity and insight. Her fans and readers of women's fiction that's smart and snappy will want this."
-Library Journal (starred)

"Wolitzer makes it work, thanks to sharp characterizations and acute observations on everything from the digital generation gap to the accommodations made in a long marriage. . . . A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home."
-Kirkus

"A high-school performance of Lysistrata has a mysterious effect: The women of a New Jersey town become increasingly disinterested in sex with their partners. In the alternately hilarious and poignant events that follow, couples reexamine their relationships."
-Ms.

"Meg Wolitzer, like Tom Perrotta, is an author who makes you wonder why more people don't write perceptive, entertaining, unassuming novels about how and why ordinary people choose to make decisions about their lives....The Uncoupling is a novel that can't help but make you think about your own relationship—about what it consists of, what would be left if sex were taken away, how far you'd be prepared to go in order to keep it in your life somewhere, and so on."
-Nick Hornby, The Believer

"Wolitzer writes of a spell cast upon a town-but she superbly casts it upon the reader as well. This deftly written tale of bewildered women (and their men) is always surprising and always engaging, both funny and serious at the same time, a wonderful read."
-Elizabeth Strout, New York Times-bestselling author of Olive Kitteridge

"In this fiercely funny, playful and always tender novel, Meg Wolitzer glories in the drama and the magic of falling in and out of love... and bed. The Uncoupling is, happily, a very sexy fable about sexual ennui."
-Cathleen Schine, New York Times-bestselling author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport

Meet the Author

Meg Wolitzer is the author of eight previous novels, including The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
May 28, 1959
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Education:
B.A., Brown University, 1981
Website:
http://www.megwolitzer.com

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The Uncoupling 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Stellar Plains, New Jersey, drama teacher Fran Heller chooses the Ancient Greek classic Lysistrata as the play her students will perform. However the anti-war comedy has a strange effect on the town's females. Just like in Aristophanes' drama, the adult women and teen girls refuse to have sex with their male counterparts. Though in the Greek drama it was to end the endless Peloponnesian War; none of the Jersey women know why, No exceptions to the sexual abstinence rule surfaces. The guys are stunned as their seductive efforts fail miserably. The women wonder where the passion went while the men wonder where the women went. All are unhappy as a spell has been cast leading to the Uncoupling of couples breaking up. This is an intriguing sort of adult fairy tale look at female sexuality in the age of social media when people are living much longer. The story line is character driven by the couples struggling with frustration over unfulfilled basic needs although the female side is much more complicated. Readers will enjoy the New Jersey Housewives and other females starring in Mg Wolitzer's modern day rendition of Lysistrata. Harriet Klausner
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
When a new drama teacher comes to town and decides to put on a production of Lysistrata, the women of Stellar Plains suddenly turn against their significant others by withholding sex. Although the play is about just that, the women do not consider this fact as a cold wind rolls through town, taking their sexual appetites with them. This was an interesting read. It's a satire with a bit of magical realism tossed in. Wolitzer takes a topic that has been discussed many, many times before and somehow makes it fresh. Because let's face it, women have been turning men away for years. Especially married women. No need to be secretive here but with kids, work and the day-to-day stuff that goes on, it happens all the time. Except, these women can't figure out why. They are confused and don't understand how one day you can be lusting after your husband and the next day.poof! As each character goes within herself to find out why, insecurities and frustration come flooding out. This is one of those novels where characters are well-developed and likable but don't really matter. I should say, that their names don't really matter. These characters are universal and can be found in any town and I think Wolitzer purposely wrote them that way. In fact, the town.neither big nor small could be Anytown, USA. It's a "slice of life" story. The kind of story that allows you to take what you want from it. I will say this, towards the end of the book, a political statement is made regarding the war in Afghanistan and although I can see why Wolitzer thought it would tie-in, it didn't and actually pulled me right out of the story. The magical elements disintegrated and I was quickly brought back to reality. In summary, I liked the story and how the characters meshed with one another and I liked how generic the characters were. It allowed me to easily escape into their world. I found the writing to be beautiful and although the ending sort of threw me, it didn't affect my overall feeling towards the book. I am not a fan of magical realism but it was very subtle and handled well. Overall, a quick but engaging read.
Lennon More than 1 year ago
This book sounded intriguing to me. In fact I was just telling my husband how I had never read a book that I didn't like and then sure enough, I bought this and STUPID! I did finish it, hoping that it would get better, but it didn't. The story line had such potential, but it just fell flat. Don't spend the money to read this. Go to the library and see for yourself.
Heidi_Dances More than 1 year ago
The new and eccentric drama teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School makes a radical choice and announces the school play will be Lysistrata, a Greek comedy by Aristophanes in which women withhold sex from men until war is over. As the play is rehearsed in preparation for the only performance, a spell is cast over the citizens of the small New Jersey town. The spell leaves no one's sex life untouched as women lose all interest, and not even the perfect couple, favorite English teachers, Robby and Dory Lang, are unaffected. With the demise of female sexual desire men and women, both young and old, have to reexamine their relationships and the role sex plays in their lives. During the performance of the play, unhappy men take over the stage to try to put back together the fabric of their relationships. No one in the audience will remember later what happened on the stage when the spell is undone. But their relationships have changed and they must take the restoration of desire and sex and forge new bonds of love and intimacy both physical and emotional. This book befuddled me. I was anxious to pick it up each time because it was interesting, but I'm not sure what I found interesting about it. In one word the book is about sex but without any juicy sex scenes. The plot was uncertain though I wanted to know what would happen next. The main characters seemed one dimensional, not quite teased out, and not even likeable except maybe Dory. The conclusion was a little confusing and unfinished, but I had already guessed how it would end. It was entirely bewildering. However I think it was the way it was written that kept me going. Wolitzer's writing was wonderful and I appreciated the style all the way through. I can't think of anyone I would recommend The Uncoupling to, but I enjoyed the read. Hmmmm.
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suzgerdes More than 1 year ago
The uncoupling started out very intriguing...going through different women's experience of "uncoupling." I enjoyed how it played out in different relationships and how women of different ages were affected. The ending just fell short of what it could have been leading up to.
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cowpen More than 1 year ago
An interesting twist on a much written subject about love and sex. Meg Wolitzer keeps you guessing about the outcome while reflecting on your own personal thoughts and experiences.
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