The Uncoupling: A Novel

The Uncoupling: A Novel

3.0 44
by Meg Wolitzer
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Ten-Year Nap, a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire.

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 strangeSee more details below

Overview

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Ten-Year Nap, a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire.

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.

As she did to such acclaim with the New York Times bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles an issue that has deep ramifications for women's lives, in a way that makes it funny, riveting, and totally fresh-allowing us to see our own lives through her insightful lens.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

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
Entertainment Weekly
Wolitzer writes with barbed insight.
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.
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.
People
Stunningly insightful, characteristically hilarious.(four stars)
The Wall Street Journal
A sage exploration of the role of sex in both sustaining and wrecking relationships.
San Francisco Chronicle
Meg Wolitzer deserves to be a household name.
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.
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)
From the Publisher
"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."—More 

"Wolitzer is a tender, engaging narrator. . . . This is the suburban comedy of Tom Perrotta in a flannel nightgown. The Uncoupling provides the charm of recognizing your own nervous tics and anxieties laid out by an author who's not out to get you."—The Washington Post 

"In The Uncoupling, bestselling author Meg Wolitzer sets up a twenty- first century parable that blends the supernatural with the decidedly real. . . . The Uncoupling is a fast, fun read, and like all off-kilter thought experiments, it asks us to reexamine the experiences we accept unthinkingly as well as the very language we use to describe them. Desire is enchanting, but its sudden absence can feel like a curse."—NPR 

"With her humorous voice, ecstatic prose, and unique historical backdrop, Wolitzer sheds light on the changing nature of female sexuality over time."—Daily Beast 

"In Meg Wolitzer's superb new book, The Uncoupling a new drama teacher shows up in a small town and stages "Lysistrata," the ancient Greek play in which women decide to ditch their fellas until they put an end to the Peloponnesian War. The play casts a spell on the town, and soon husbands and boyfriends are out of luck."—The Atlanta-Journal Constitution 

"Wolitzer's novel is funny and keenly observant. She uses the fantastic to externalize internal states that admit no easy description."—Santa Cruz Weekly 

"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. . . . Wolitzer's talent is in her ability to use the sex strike to examine what makes marriages strong and what makes and break them, and it's not always about the sex."—USA Today 

"At this point in her career, Meg Wolitzer deserves to be a household name. Every few years she turns out a sparkling novel that manages to bring the shine back to big, tarnished issues of gender politics, such as women's pull between work and family, or the role of sexuality in family dynamics."—San Francisco Chronicle 

"Imagine that a high-school play could cast a spell, transforming not just its cast but also the faculty members around it, mysteriously changing their lives. Such is the irresistible premise of Meg Wolitzer's ninth novel, The Uncoupling, in which a suburban New Jersey community is altered by a production of Lysistrata . . . . The Uncoupling is a smooth and often enchanting read that reveals a wry understanding of modern relationships and generations."—The Seattle Times 

"A funny, disarming fable...comic, compelling and circles very close to home."—The Portland Oregonian 

"[Wolitzer] 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."—Bookpage 

"Superbly written, wry yet compassionate, Meg Wolitzer's The Uncoupling is uncommonly good. . . . The real pull of The Uncoupling is the breadth and depth of female emotion and sexual expression, dazzlingly rendered in Wolitzer's crisp prose."—ABC News 

"A sage exploration of the role of sex in both sustaining and wrecking relationships. . . . Ours is an age when grown-ups read novels intended for teenagers, The Uncoupling is a book written for grown-ups that teenagers would do well to consult."—The Wall Street Journal 

"Wolitzer writes with barbed insight."—Entertainment Weekly 

"The Uncoupling is enchanting from start to finish. . . . Thoughtful and touching, The Uncoupling is also very funny."—The New York Times Book Review 

"[Wolitzer's] wittiest and most incisive work yet, she delivers a modern version of the ancient Lysistrata story. . . . Stunningly insightful, characteristically hilarious, Wolitzer's latest holds a mirror up to modern America, offering a shock of recognition amid the laughter."—People (four stars) 

"What's great about Wolitzer is that she's neither too flip nor too serious about sex; The Uncoupling is hilarious, but the stakes are deeply felt- perhaps because the world of Stellar Plains is so vividly realized. . . . Wolitzer robs her characters of sex in order to explore what an essential, messy, needful role it plays in our lives."—Bust 

"Wolitzer's sprightly novel is a warm, hopeful corrective to the half-baked messages women receive about monogamous desire."—Whole Living 

"Women in a New Jersey community inexplicable stop having sex with their men in this sly homage to the Aristophanes classic Lysistrata."—O, The Oprah Magazine 

"In The Uncoupling stealth feminist Meg Wolitzer expertly teases out the socio-sexual power dynamics between men and women."—Vanity Fair 

"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. 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

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.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101486511
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/05/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
216,271
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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
"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."—More

"Wolitzer is a tender, engaging narrator. . . . This is the suburban comedy of Tom Perrotta in a flannel nightgown. The Uncoupling provides the charm of recognizing your own nervous tics and anxieties laid out by an author who's not out to get you."—The Washington Post

"In The Uncoupling, bestselling author Meg Wolitzer sets up a twenty- first century parable that blends the supernatural with the decidedly real. . . . The Uncoupling is a fast, fun read, and like all off-kilter thought experiments, it asks us to reexamine the experiences we accept unthinkingly as well as the very language we use to describe them. Desire is enchanting, but its sudden absence can feel like a curse."—NPR

"With her humorous voice, ecstatic prose, and unique historical backdrop, Wolitzer sheds light on the changing nature of female sexuality over time."—Daily Beast

"In Meg Wolitzer's superb new book, The Uncoupling a new drama teacher shows up in a small town and stages "Lysistrata," the ancient Greek play in which women decide to ditch their fellas until they put an end to the Peloponnesian War. The play casts a spell on the town, and soon husbands and boyfriends are out of luck."—The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

"Wolitzer's novel is funny and keenly observant. She uses the fantastic to externalize internal states that admit no easy description."—Santa Cruz Weekly

"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. . . . Wolitzer's talent is in her ability to use the sex strike to examine what makes marriages strong and what makes and break them, and it's not always about the sex."—USA Today

"At this point in her career, Meg Wolitzer deserves to be a household name. Every few years she turns out a sparkling novel that manages to bring the shine back to big, tarnished issues of gender politics, such as women's pull between work and family, or the role of sexuality in family dynamics."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Imagine that a high-school play could cast a spell, transforming not just its cast but also the faculty members around it, mysteriously changing their lives. Such is the irresistible premise of Meg Wolitzer's ninth novel, The Uncoupling, in which a suburban New Jersey community is altered by a production of Lysistrata . . . . The Uncoupling is a smooth and often enchanting read that reveals a wry understanding of modern relationships and generations."—The Seattle Times

"A funny, disarming fable...comic, compelling and circles very close to home."—The Portland Oregonian

"[Wolitzer] 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."—Bookpage

"Superbly written, wry yet compassionate, Meg Wolitzer's The Uncoupling is uncommonly good. . . . The real pull of The Uncoupling is the breadth and depth of female emotion and sexual expression, dazzlingly rendered in Wolitzer's crisp prose."—ABC News

"A sage exploration of the role of sex in both sustaining and wrecking relationships. . . . Ours is an age when grown-ups read novels intended for teenagers, The Uncoupling is a book written for grown-ups that teenagers would do well to consult."—The Wall Street Journal

"Wolitzer writes with barbed insight."—Entertainment Weekly

"The Uncoupling is enchanting from start to finish. . . . Thoughtful and touching, The Uncoupling is also very funny."—The New York Times Book Review

"[Wolitzer's] wittiest and most incisive work yet, she delivers a modern version of the ancient Lysistrata story. . . . Stunningly insightful, characteristically hilarious, Wolitzer's latest holds a mirror up to modern America, offering a shock of recognition amid the laughter."—People (four stars)

"What's great about Wolitzer is that she's neither too flip nor too serious about sex; The Uncoupling is hilarious, but the stakes are deeply felt- perhaps because the world of Stellar Plains is so vividly realized. . . . Wolitzer robs her characters of sex in order to explore what an essential, messy, needful role it plays in our lives."—Bust

"Wolitzer's sprightly novel is a warm, hopeful corrective to the half-baked messages women receive about monogamous desire."—Whole Living

"Women in a New Jersey community inexplicable stop having sex with their men in this sly homage to the Aristophanes classic Lysistrata."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"In The Uncoupling stealth feminist Meg Wolitzer expertly teases out the socio-sexual power dynamics between men and women."—Vanity Fair

"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. 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

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >