The Uncoupling: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

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



When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses Lysistrata as the school play-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, ...
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The Uncoupling: A Novel

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Overview

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



When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses Lysistrata as the school play-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.



Meg Wolitzers's newest book, The Interestings, is now available from Riverhead Books.





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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)
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101486511
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 200,391
  • File size: 376 KB

Meet the Author

Meg Wolitzer
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.

Biography

Meg Wolitzer grew up around books. Her mother, Hilma Wolitzer, published two novels while Meg was still in school, and weekly trips to the library were a ritual the entire family looked forward to. Not surprisingly, Meg served as editor for her junior high and high school literary magazines. She graduated from Brown University in 1981. One year later, she published her debut novel, Sleepwalking, the story of three college girls bonded by an unhealthy fascination with suicidal women poets. It marked the beginning of a successful writing career that shows no sign of slacking.

Over the years, Wolitzer has proven herself a deft chronicler of intense, unconventional relationships, especially among women. She has explored with wit and sensitivity the dynamics of fractured families (This Is Your Life, The Position); the devastating effects of death (Surrender, Dorothy), the challenges of friendship (Friends for Life), and the prospective minefield of gender, identity, and dashed expectations (Hidden Pictures, The Wife, The Ten-Year Nap).

In addition to her bestselling novels, Wolitzer has written a number of screenplays. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and she has also taught writing at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and at Skidmore College.

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview, Wolitzer shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:

"First of all, I am obsessed with playing Scrabble. It relaxes me between fits of writing, and I play online, in a bizarro world of anonymous, competitive players. It's my version of smoking or drinking -- a guilty pleasure. The thing is, I love words, anagrams, wordplay, cryptic crossword puzzles, and anything to do with the language."

"I also love children's books, and feel a great deal of nostalgia for some of them from my own childhood (Harriet the Spy and The Phantom Tollbooth among others) as well as from my children's current lives. I have an idea for a kids' book that I might do someday, though right now my writing schedule is full up."

"Humor is very important to me in life and work. I take pleasure from laughing at movies, and crying at books, and sometimes vice versa. I also have recently learned that I like performing. I think that writers shouldn't get up at a reading and give a dull, chant-like reading from their book. They should perform; they should do what they need to do to keep readers really listening. I've lately had the opportunity to do some performing on public radio, as well as singing with a singer I admire, Suzzy Roche, formerly of the Roches, a great group that started in 1979. Being onstage provides a dose of gratification that most writers never get to experience."

"But mostly, writing a powerful novel -- whether funny or serious, or of course both -- is my primary goal. When I hear that readers have been affected by something I've written, it's a relief. I finally have come to no longer fear that I'm going to have to go to law school someday...."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 28, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University, 1981
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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(18)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A modern day rendition of Lysistrata

    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

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Uncoupling takes relationships to a whole new level. One where everything bright and shiny is stripped away to reveal the dull, scratched-up surface of what's underneath. Funny and wry but dead serious at times, The Uncoupling pokes fun at what c

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I'm Befuddled

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Dumbest book I have ever read!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2012

    The uncoupling started out very intriguing...going through diffe

    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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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Charming

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

    Not what I expected

    Not what I expected, really no point to this story. Wouldnt recommend!

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    Posted April 15, 2011

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