New York Times Notable Book of 2018
One of People Magazine’s Top Ten Books of 2018
One of USA Today’s Top Ten Books of 2018
“Equal parts cotton candy and red meat, in the best way.” —People
“Wolitzer’s social commentary can be as funny as it is queasily on target.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Wolitzer is one of those rare writers who creates droll and entertaining novels of ideas.” —Fresh Air, NPR
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, comes an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.
To be admired by someone we admire—we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer—madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place—feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
Hometown:New York, New York
Date of Birth:May 28, 1959
Place of Birth:Brooklyn, New York
Education:B.A., Brown University, 1981
Read an Excerpt
Greer Kadetsky met Faith Frank in October of 2006 at Ryland College, where Faith had come to deliver the Edmund and Wilhelmina Ryland Memorial Lecture; and though that night the chapel was full of students, some of them boiling over with loudmouthed commentary, it seemed astonishing but true that out of everyone there, Greer was the one to interest Faith. Greer, a freshman then at this undistinguished school in southern Connecticut, was selectively and furiously shy. She could give answers easily, but rarely opinions. “Which makes no sense, because I am stuffed with opinions. I am a piñata of opinions,” she’d said to Cory during one of their nightly Skype sessions since college had separated them. She’d always been a tireless student and a constant reader, but she found it impossible to speak in the wild and free ways that other people did. For most of her life it hadn’t mattered, but now it did.
So what was it about her that Faith Frank recognized and liked? Maybe, Greer thought, it was the possibility of boldness, lightly suggested in the streak of electric blue that zagged across one side of her otherwise ordinary furniture‑brown hair. But plenty of college girls had hair partially dipped the colors of frozen and spun treats found at county fairs. Maybe it was just that Faith, at sixty‑three a person of influence and a certain level of fame who had been traveling the country for decades speaking ardently about women’s lives, felt sorry for eighteen‑year‑old Greer, who was hot‑faced and inarticulate that night. Or maybe Faith was automatically generous and attentive around young people who were uncomfortable in the world.
Greer didn’t really know why Faith took an interest. But what she knew for sure, eventually, was that meeting Faith Frank was the thrilling beginning of everything. It would be a very long time before the unspeakable end.
She had been at college for seven weeks before Faith appeared. Much of that time, that excruciating buildup, had been spent absorbed in her own unhappiness, practically curating it. On Greer’s first Friday night at Ryland, from along the dormitory halls came the grinding sounds of a collective social life forming. It soon became an ambient roar, as if there were a generator somewhere deep in the building. The class of 2010 was starting college in a time of supposed coed assertiveness—a time of female soccer stars and condoms zipped confidently inside the pocket of a purse, the ring shape pressing itself into the wrapper like a gravestone rubbing. As everyone on the third‑floor of Woolley Hall got ready to go out, Greer, who had planned on going nowhere, but instead staying in and doing the Kafka reading for her freshman literature colloquium, watched. She watched the girls standing with heads tilted and elbows jutted, pushing in earrings, and the boys aerosolizing themselves with a body spray called Stadium, which seemed to be half pine sap, half A.1. sauce. Then, overstimulated, they all fled the dorm and spread out across campus, heading toward various darkish parties that vibrated with identically shattering bass.
Woolley was old and decrepit, one of the original buildings, and the walls of Greer’s room, as she’d described them to Cory the day she arrived, were “the disturbing color of hearing aids.” The only people who remained there after the exodus that night were an assortment of lost, unclaimed souls. There was a boy from Iran who appeared very sad, his eyelashes clustered together in little wet starbursts. He sat in a chair in a corner of the first‑floor lounge with his computer on his lap, gazing at it mournfully. When Greer entered the lounge—her room, a rare single, was too depressing to stay in all evening, and she’d been unable to concentrate on her book—she was startled to realize that he was merely looking at his screen saver, which was a picture of his parents and sister, all of them smiling at him from far away. The family image swept across the computer screen and gently bounced against one side, before slowly heading back.
How long would he watch his bouncing family? Greer wondered, and though she didn’t miss her own parents at all—she was still angry with them for what they had done to her, which had resulted in her ending up at Ryland—she felt sorry for this boy. He was away from home on another continent, at a place that perhaps someone had mistakenly told him was a first‑rate American college, a center of learning and discovery, practically a School of Athens nestled on the East Coast of the US. After managing the complicated feat of getting here, he was now alone and quickly becoming aware that this place actually wasn’t so great. And besides that, he was also pining for his family. She knew what it was like to miss someone, for she missed Cory so continually and pressingly that the feeling was like its own shattering bass vibrating through her, and he was only 110 miles away at Princeton, not across the world.
Greer’s sympathies kept collecting and expanding, while in the doorway of the lounge appeared a very pale girl who stood clutching her midsection and asking, “Do either of you have something for diarrhea?”
“Sorry, no,” said Greer, and the boy just shook his head.
The girl accepted their responses with a grim weariness, and then for lack of anything else to do she sat down too. Curling through the porous walls came the smell of dairy butter plus tertiary butylhydroquinone, seductive but inadequate to the task of cheering anyone up. Moments later this was followed by the source of the smell, a big plastic tub of popcorn conveyed by a girl in a robe and slippers. “I got the kind with movie theater butter,” she said to them as an added inducement, holding out her bowl.
Apparently, Greer thought, these are going to be my people, tonight and perhaps every weekend night. It made no sense; she didn’t belong with them, and yet she was among them, she was one of them. So she took a hand span’s worth of popcorn, which was so wet that her fingers felt as if she’d draped them through soup. Greer was about to sit down and attempt a conversation; they could tell one another about themselves, how bleak they felt. She would stay in this lounge, even though Cory had encouraged her earlier on Skype not to stay in tonight, but to go out to a party or some sort of campus event. “There has to be something going on,” he’d said. “Improv. There’s always improv.” It was her first weekend at college, and he thought she should just try.
But she’d said no, she didn’t really want to try, she would rather get through it her own way. During the week she would be a super‑student, working in a carrel in the library, her head bent over a book like a jeweler with a loupe. Books were an antidepressant, a powerful SSRI. She’d always been one of those girls with socked feet tucked under her, her mouth slightly open in stunned, almost doped‑up concentration. All written words danced in a chain for her, creating corresponding images as clear as the boy from Iran’s bouncing family. She had learned to read before kindergarten, when she’d suspected that her parents weren’t all that interested in her. Then she’d kept going, plowing through children’s books with their predictable anthropomorphism, heading eventually into the strange and beautiful formality of the nineteenth century, and pushing both backward and forward into histories of bloody wars, into discussions of God and godlessness. What she responded to most powerfully, sometimes even physically, were novels. Once Greer read Anna Karenina for such a long, unbroken bout that her eyes grew strained and bloodshot, and she had to lie in bed with a washcloth over them as if she herself were a literary heroine from the past. Novels had accompanied her throughout her childhood, that period of protracted isolation, and they would probably do so during whatever lay ahead in adulthood. Regardless of how bad it got at Ryland, she knew that at least she would be able to read there, because this was college, and reading was what you did.
But tonight, books were unseductive, and so they remained untouched, ignored. Tonight college was only about partying, or sitting in a bland dormitory lounge, bookless and self-punishing. Bitterness, she knew, could give you an edge. Unlike pure unhappiness, bitterness had a taste. This display of bitterness would be for no one but herself. Her parents wouldn’t witness it; even Cory Pinto, down at Princeton, wouldn’t. She and Cory had grown up together, and had been in love and entwined since the year before; and though they’d vowed that throughout the four years of college they would Skype with each other all the time and borrow cars to visit each other at least once a month, they wouldn’t be Skyping anymore tonight. He had gotten dressed in a good sweater and gone out to a party. Earlier, she’d watched as the Skype version of him came close to the screen, all pore and nostril and rock‑ledge forehead.
“Try to have a good time,” he’d said, his voice stuttering slightly because of a glitchy system configuration. Then he turned and held up a finger to John Steers, his off‑camera roommate, as if telling him: Give me two more seconds. I just have to deal with this.
Greer had quickly ended the call, not wanting to be seen as “this”—someone to deal with, the needy one in the relationship. Now she sat in the Woolley lounge, lowering and lifting her hand into and out of the popcorn, looking around at the tacked‑up posters for the Heimlich maneuver and indie band auditions and a Christian Students picnic in West Quad, come rain or shine. A girl walked by the room and stopped; later on she admitted that she had done this more out of kindness than interest. She resembled a slender, sexy boy, perfectly made, with a Joan of Arc aesthetic that immediately read as gay. She took in the sight of the bright room of lost people, frowned in deliberation, and then announced, “I’m going to check out a few parties, if anyone wants to come.”
The boy shook his head and returned to the image on his screen. The girl with the popcorn just kept eating, and the girl in distress was now debating with someone on her cell phone about whether or not she should go to Health Services. “I know that on the plus side they could help me,” she was saying. “But on the minus side I have no idea where they’re located.” Pause. “No, I cannot call Security and have them escort me there.” Another pause. “And anyway, I think it might just be nerves.”
Greer looked at the boyish girl and nodded, and the girl nodded back, turning up the collar of her coat. In the dim hall, they pushed through the heavy fire doors. Only when Greer was outside in the wind, feeling it ripple along the thin material of her shirt, did she remember she was coatless. But she felt certain that she shouldn’t break the moment by asking if she could run up to the third floor and get her coat.
“I thought we could sample a few different things,” said the girl, who introduced herself as Zee Eisenstat, from Scarsdale, New York. “It will be like a test kitchen for college life.”
“Exactly,” said Greer, as though this had been her plan too.
Zee led them to Spanish House, a freestanding clapboard building on the edge of campus. As they walked in, a boy in the doorway said, “Buenas noches, señoritas,” and handed them glasses of what he called mock‑sangria, though Greer got into a brief conversation with another resident of the house about whether the m ock‑sangria was perhaps actually not mock at all.
“Licor secreto?” Greer asked quietly, and the girl looked at her hard and said, “Eres inteligente.”
Eres inteligente. For years it had been enough to be the intelligent one. All that had meant, in the beginning, was that you could answer the kinds of questions that your teachers asked. The whole world appeared to be fact‑based, and that had been a relief to Greer, who could dredge up facts with great ease, a magician pulling coins from any available ear. Facts appeared before her, and then she simply articulated them, and in this way she became known as the smartest one in her class.
Later on, when it wasn’t just facts that were required, it got so much harder for her. To have to put yourself out there—your opinions, your essence, the particular substance that churned inside you and made you who you were—both exhausted and frightened Greer, and she thought of this as she and Zee headed for their next social destination, the Lamb Art Studio. How Zee, a freshman, knew about these parties was unclear; there had been no mention of them in the Ryland Weekly Blast.
The air in the studio was sharp with turpentine, which almost served as a sexual accelerant, for the art students, all upperclassmen, seemed unusually attracted to one another. They were twinned and tripled, with skinny bodies and paint‑spattered pants and drawn‑on hands and ear gauges and unusually bright eyes. In the middle of the white wooden floor, a girl was being carried around on a guy’s shoulders, crying, “BENNETT, STOP IT, I’M GOING TO FALL OFF AND DIE, AND THEN MY PARENTS WILL SUE YOUR VISUAL ARTS ASS!” He—Bennett—carried her in staggered circles while he was still sufficiently young and powerful and Atlas‑like to hold her like this, and while she was still light enough to be held.
The art students were into one another and one another only. It was as if Greer and Zee had stumbled upon a subculture in the clearing of a forest. “The male gaze” kept getting mentioned, though at first Greer heard it as “the male gays,” but then finally she understood. She and Zee slipped away not long after arriving, and once outside again they were almost immediately joined by another freshman who confidently and unapologetically attached herself to them. She said her name was Chloe Shanahan, and she seemed to aspire toward a certain mallish brand of hotness, with spiky heels and Hollister jeans and a Slinky‑load of thin silver bracelets. She had wound up in the art studio by mistake, she told them; she was actually looking for Theta Gamma Psi.
“A frat?” Zee said. “Why? They’re so disgusting.”
Chloe shrugged. “They apparently have a keg and loud music. That’s all I need tonight.”
Zee looked at Greer. Did she want to go to an actual frat party? She wanted it less than most things; but she also didn’t want to be alone, so maybe she did want it. She thought of Cory leaning against a wall at a party right this minute, laughing at something. She saw an array of people looking up at him—he was the tallest person in any room—and laughing back.
Greer, Zee, and Chloe were an unlikely trio, but she had heard this was typical of social life in the first weeks of college. People who had nothing in common were briefly and emotionally joined, like the members of a jury or the survivors of a plane crash. Chloe took them across West Quad, and then they looped around behind the fortress of the Metzger Library, which was all lit up and poignantly empty, like a 24‑hour supermarket in the middle of the night.
The Ryland website showed a few nominal photos of students in goggles doing something with a torch in a laboratory, or squinting over a whiteboard jammed with calculations, but the rest of the photos were social, cornball: an afternoon of ice skating on a frozen pond, a classic “three in a tree” shot of students chatting beneath the nexus of a spreading oak. In fact, the campus only had one such tree, which had been over‑photographed into exhaustion. In daylight, students straggled to class along the paths of the inelegant campus, frequently wearing pajamas under their jackets, like the members of a good‑natured bear family in a children’s book.
When nighttime fell, though, the college came into its own. Their destination tonight was a large, corroding frat house thundering with sound. Greek life, the college catalogues had called this. Greer imagined IMing Cory later, writing, “greek life: wtf? where is aristotle? where is baklava?” But suddenly their usual kind of shared, arch commentary that kept them both entertained was irrelevant, for he wasn’t here, not even close, and now she was inside a wide doorway with these two randomly chosen girls, heading toward the noxious smells and the inviting ones, and, indirectly and eventually, toward Faith Frank.
Excerpted from "The Female Persuasion"
Copyright © 2018 Meg Wolitzer.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. The Female Persuasion is about the relationship between a young woman and her mentor. What does Greer learn from Faith, and vice versa? In what ways do Greer and Faith surprise or disappoint each other? Have you ever had someone come into your life and change it forever?
2. Greer and Cory are high school sweethearts, but their romance is much deeper than their age might suggest. How do the social settings of their hometown and their families turn them into the couple that they are? Discuss the class differences between Greer’s family and Cory’s. How do family origins affect the characters’ ambitions?
3. Cory is entirely consumed by grief after a family tragedy. Talk about the ways in which grief can change a person’s goals. How does it alter Cory’s life path? What do you think about Greer’s reaction to Cory’s grief-induced changes? Is she right to give him space? Is he right to push her away? Could this moment in their relationship have gone any other way?
4. Compare Zee’s childhood with Greer’s. Have their backgrounds influenced the people they have grown up to be, or the decisions they make, or the ambitions they follow?
5. What do you think about Greer’s treatment of Zee and its effect on their friendship and their lives? Do you recognize Greer’s emotional response to the idea of sharing her job with Zee? Were you surprised by Zee’s reaction when she found out what really happened?
6. How has feminism changed between Faith’s youth and Greer’s youth? What do their generational differences show about the nature of progress? Discuss the portrayal of women’s advocacy as it evolves over the course of the book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer is a highly recommended coming-of-age novel that follows a decade in the life of a young woman and explores friendship, relationships, ambition, and mentors. Greer Kadetsky is a freshman at Ryland College who is trying to keep a long-distance relationship going with her high school boy friend, Cory Pinto, who is attending Princeton. She has always been a bookish, intelligent, independent girl with parents who were more self-involved than parental. She was also accepted at and planning to attend an Ivy league school with Cory, but her parents messed up the financial aid form, which Greer still resents. When Greer gets groped at a frat party during her first weekend at college, she is hesitant to report it. Her politically savvy friend Zee urges her to, but she doesn't until other girls go through the same thing. When the university hearing on the matter results in no sanctions or actions, Greer and Zee are angry at their inability to address the actions of this young man. Greer and Zee are still angry when they go to hear the famous, charismatic feminist Faith Frank, sixty-three, speak on campus. Greer is mesmerized by Frank, asks her a question related to the groping incident, and the university's empty response to the charges. Later the two continue their discussion in the bathroom. Faith is taken by Greer, talks to the young woman and gives her her card. This leads to an opportunity after Greer graduates to work for the feminist icon at her new foundation, Loci, which sponsors conferences about women's issues. The writing is excellent. It is clear from the beginning that Wolitzer knows how to tell an entertaining and engaging story while keeping her plot moving forward. The Female Persuasion really becomes a saga as it follows Greer and the others through the decade. The narrative follows Greer, Cory, Faith, Zee, and another male character. These are all well-developed but flawed characters, with strengths and weaknesses. The characters are all distinctive and have their own individual voices. While Greer is the compelling central character, in some ways Cory is actually the more sympathetic and humane character. Is this the feminist blockbuster of our times? Well, I'm not convinced it is, but perhaps I'm too old for it. It is certainly a very good novel and I was engrossed in the story. I would agree that it explores embracing womanhood, yet also suffering because of it. All the young characters start out emotional, wanting to change the world, striving to make their mark on the world and do something. They are also can be a bit entitled, naive, and sometimes, well, whiny. I realize that they don't feel the need to acknowledge what women before them have experienced. "'Sisterhood,' she said, 'is about being together with other women in a cause that allows all women to make the individual choices they want.'" Although this sentiment was shared, it was never really embraced in the novel and perhaps that is what is bothering me. As women, we fought for the right to be individuals and to be able to voice our own opinions and be in charge of our own bodies. We don't need to throw that away by insisting that it means only these ideals or only a specific stand on certain issues. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group
I'm considering building a video game where no one can find the plot to this book. People will search everywhere and it will go into excruciating detail about all the characters' back stories as well as forecast the details of their future. Gamers will try to guess what it is that will actually *happen* and keep playing and playing learning little cliches about how life is hard and disappointing but also sometimes kind of great. And sometimes the players will level up but it won't last, they'll end up going back down levels in confusion because, guess what? The game will have no plot, no way to win. No way to ever let the player succeed and I'm thinking that way players will *have to come back for more!
I appreciate how th story unfolded but especially how it ended still somewhat unresolved. It was real.
Interesting read but not amazing.
I had great expectations of this novel. I hoped it would crack my head open and show me feminism as the great, untapped force that ultimately saves humanity from testosterone filled ruin. Alas, a slow developing plot, mundane set of characters, and absence of resolution of the few conflicts found in its pages left me still waiting for THAT book. Still, it's got enough to stir up a few, to draw out the haters, to inspire those looking for a way in to social change, and it is, for the most part, believable -- meaning, if you're a young person dreaming of changing the world, this primer in the institution of personal responsibility, activism, and the core difficulties built into our institutions that hold you back, might strike a chord that keeps resonating into your life and ends up helping bring us back from the unexpected caveman resurrection that events of 2016 forward enabled. I want my daughter to read this, and her smart friends, and then...well, let's see what her generation can do.
From the minute Greer was born she didn't have an easy life. Growing up with pot-headed parents who didn't really care that she was in the same room with her, Greer had to learn how to take care of herself and not depend on anyone. But there are a few things that parents should be able to take care of and one of those is helping their child get into the best schools, especially ones that the child has been dreaming about for years. Well, Greer doesn't have those kind of parents and she missed her shot for the school of her dreams. In all sense she feels like she missed out on a lot of things in her life. So it's sensible that she is angry with her folks, with the universe setting her up like this. Until her idol, Faith Frank, waltzes into her life and tells her she can do anything that she puts her mind too and not worry about the past. The past stays in the past, keep looking forward. Faith, a leader of women; an inspiration to anyone who wants to get a head in life, finds Greer interesting. Faith sees potential in Greer and wants to help her grow to be the young woman like Faith was. As Greer follows her mentor on the ups and downs of being a female in a male world, Greer learns so much. How to pursue what she wants and don't give a damn. How to finally see people for what they are worth while finding out how much she is worth. About how to forgive those who have forsaken her, all the while asking for forgiveness for what she has done as well. In the modern day society we acknowledge that women do have the potential to be all that in work and in home. We also acknowledge that women can't do everything by themselves either. We need support...whether it be from girlfriends, mentors, families, husbands, and even enemies, we just can't do it alone. What we need to remember though is that all of these people who are helping you and/or mentoring you, they are human themselves. And as we all know, humans make mistakes. Even heroes. ** Okay. This book is supposed to be an enlightening book for women to see what women are capable of in the workforce and a real feminist way of looking at things. And I, a female, was looking forward to such a thing. I for the life of me could NOT get into this book. I don't usually put in spoilers in my reviews but with this book I'm going to have to. The first half of this book is all about Greer (had a hard time with this name for a woman character) "finding" herself and experimenting with herself.....sexually. Half of it was about her and her boyfriend learning things sexually and then her being all mouse like with her friends and co-workers and everyone has to "help" her along. The reason I have a problem with this, is because she has read every book strong women have written and she sees what they accomplished a lot in their lives by grabbing life by the horns and she doesn't listen to them. She quotes them, but doesn't listen. Then, everything seems to fall in her lap...she meets her idol....she gets a job with her idol...she moves up magically in her job so fast and on and on. In a way it felt like this is the grown up version of Matilda except Greer doesn't have magical powers. To me, the ending was the best part of the book for she FINALLY started to stand up for herself and to see that not all mentors are their for YOUR benefit. But I had to get through the entire book just to get there and it was very tiring and I almost didn't finish it.
*This book was given to me by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review* This book featured some fantastic writing, along with engaging characters; however, the plot was all over the place. This book did not follow a particular plot line and it felt like the whole time it was explaining all these things with the intention of making a point, but it never did. I would've enjoyed it more if this book had followed some kind plot that had a conflict and a resolution. The book did a great job of describing what feminism is to different people and showing the context of feminism (or lack thereof) in different kind of situations. It also did exceptionally well in showing the development of feminism ideals overtime in the United States. There a couple of parts where I found the characters to be very short-sighted when it came to there opinions on feminism. Even at the end, I don't think that Greer really had a full grasp on what equality means for all people; not just upper class white women. I did appreciate the growth that all the characters showed by the end of the book, especially Cory. Cory was hands down my favorite character. I did also enjoy the fact the Meg Wolitzer made it very clear that her characters are all flawed, even those that are held in the highest regard by society. Overall, I do recommend this book. It was certainly a joy to read, though it did drag on at some points. I don't think that I learned anything about feminism in particular, nor did I find myself in any of the characters. Perhaps, some people will and they will find their own flaws reflected in this book and will be able to achieve some kind of revelation while reading this. I did not, but it was still a pretty good book. Just not as great as I hoped it would be.
The Female Persuasion is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a feminist and how that changes over time. Through the lens of Greer Kadetsky and her mentor Faith Frank, the novel explores themes of power, loyalty, and gender. The characters and story were enjoyable, but for me the real beauty of the novel was its exploration of feminism and the questions I was left considering. What does it mean to be a feminist? Does the end justify the means? Where should our efforts be focused? Do extremists help or hurt a cause? How does being female affect how I relate to the world? How does my being female affect how the world relates to me? How do we acknowledge and embrace what makes females unique while still demanding respect and equality? Wolitzer has done a tremendous job of weaving these heavy themes into an enjoyable story.
“Greer had noticed, when she was very young, how, looking straight ahead, you could sort of always see the side of your own nose. Once she realized this it began to trouble her. Nothing was wrong with her nose, but she knew it would always be part of her view of the world. Greer had understood it was hard to escape yourself, and to escape the way it felt being you.” I really, really enjoyed this one. The prose was musical and purposeful and hit you right in the feels, as they say. I thought it was great when I was reading it, but then I switched to audiobook and was even more blown away; the voice acting was a perfect match. “Your twenties were a time when you still felt young, but the groundwork was being laid in a serious way, crisscrossing beneath the surface. It was being laid even while you slept. What you did, where you lived, who you loved, all of it was like pieces of track being put down in the middle of the night by stealth workers.” Greer Kadetsky, at the beginning of the novel, is a new college freshman with a legitimate reason to have a grudge against her parents and a boyfriend, Cory, living the life she should have had (or rather, that they should have had together). She has big ideas, but hasn’t quite found her voice. But she does find friendship. She also finds the beginnings of a purpose after meeting Faith Frank, a former feminist figurehead. Then, after college, she finds her way into Faith’s employment and on a path that skyrockets her through her 20s. Along the way, tragedy strikes, mistakes are made, money talks, love hurts, and the world changes. And people change. And Greer changes. And it’s really, really beautiful. “There are some people who have such a strong effect on you, even if you’ve spent very little time with them, that they become embossed inside you, and any hint of them, any casual mention, creates a sudden stir in you.” I really loved the examination of the power of women’s relationships with one another. About how they lift each other up, and how they sometimes tear each other down a little. How they love each other, and how they sometimes don’t. But we need each other. Also, the characters were complex, and Wolitzer gave us everyone’s perspectives at least once. It painted a more complete picture of Greer’s world and everyone’s motivations. For example, at first I loved Cory, and then I kinda disliked him, and then I loved him again, and then I realized that this is how real people are. If you are big on really literary stories, especially those that involve women and the relationships between them, then this one is for you.
“‘Whenever I give a talk at the colleges I meet young women who say, ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’ By which they mean, ‘I don’t call myself a feminist, but I want equal pay, and I want to have equal relationships with men, and of course I want to have an equal right to sexual pleasure. I want to have a fair and good life. I don’t want to be held back because I’m a woman.’’” There were parts of The Female Persuasion that were powerful and impactful. I did connect in moments to the characters involved. The writing itself was often very lovely and even poetic in clever ways. For me though there was a disconnect somewhere with myself and the story. It was one of those books I wanted to love but just couldn’t quite get there. And even after giving it some thought I can’t fully understand why. The closest I can come is that at times the character’s tangents bored me a bit, and their thought processes all seemed to be a bit too similar, so there was never a huge distinction in the tones when switching between characters which I think contributed a bit to the disconnect for me. I give this book 3.5 stars.
was not really my type of book. was hard to get into and continue reading.
I love it when a book makes you feel things. Greer Kadetsky is young and smart and vibrant but she’s resentful because of a mistake her parents made with her financial aid forms. Instead of Yale, she ends up at another university where her boyfriend is not. This separation isolates her and makes it difficult to fit in. One night, she meets a guy who takes advantage of her, and it occurs to her that men like him exist for the sole purpose of treating women like objects, taking what they believe to be rightfully theirs. In protest, she attends a feminist rally while wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with this loser’s face. Faith Frank is in attendance and Greer is in awe. Faith is older, more refined and brilliant. Her passion while speaking stretches to the back of the room and Greer is changed forever. Completely smitten by Faith, Greer is ecstatic when she is offered an entry-level position with Faith’s magazine. The Female Persuasion is mostly about Greer and her evolution as a woman fighting for women’s rights but there are some other characters who occupy space in this novel. For one, Greer’s boyfriend, who suffers a devastating loss that changes him in ways that Greer never imagined. Faith’s fight for funding and her endless pursuit of elevating women’s rights is tarnished by one, not-so-slight oversight. Greer’s closest friend Zee, is betrayed by Greer which is so ironic given the circumstances and what Greer does for a living. This is a large, impressive read. I found myself re-reading passages because some of them beg to be re-read, digested and pondered. When I turned to that last page, I felt deeply satisfied with the story’s ending but also somewhat uneasy about the state of the world we live in. A little sick, really. I think men will shy away from a book like this but there’s something in it for them too if they give it a chance. Get a copy and read it.
It wasn't predictable but was interesting and engaging. The voices of the characters and the author felt familiar and true. I enjoyed the exploration of the dilemma of how you journey from an inexperienced, intelligent college student who gets all your answers from books to being a smart, confident and successful adult. Other interesting themes were how your family influences and determines your choices and how you respond to a dilemma that puts you in a bad light. The issue at the end between Faith and Greer and Shrader highlighted this one and how you take action or not in the face of bad circumstances. I will say I lost some respect for all three of them in the way they handled it. Took me awhile to get through this because of taking two classes. Read it for the B&N Book Club that happens 5/2/18. After attending the B&N Book Club, I wanted to add some additional thoughts. There was never really the promised exploration of old-school feminism vs new wave feminism that was hinted at in synopsis. The characters were a bit two-dimensional and seemed designed to fit a checklist. Some of the plot points were a little contrived and didn't really suit the purpose they were designed to achieve. Also Zee was a much more interesting character than Greer and deserved more coverage.
Barnes and Noble picked this as their first book club book. I hope they got a crap load of money from the publisher for doing this. Her writing style is fine. But I found the characters mostly uninteresting. The only character that slightly peaked my interest is the main character's boyfriend. I feel like this was written probably with good intentions to inspire women. But it felt to me like it was just a cobbled together story quickly finished in time to try to catch the wave of female empowerment currently surging across the country.
Very timely book dealing with feminism, sexual assault, taking care of family, dreams crushed, eyes opened. I enjoyed the book. Cory and Zee were the most developed characters. Greer could have been more developed. Faith could have explained things better instead of leaving the rift at the end. There were many story lines but Cory and Zee grow up the most and become adults during the book. The others had some ways to go before becoming fully adult. All lost something on their journeys and what they lost was important. Those losses caused some to grow up while others went into downward spirals before their growing up began. Worth the read.
Hmmmm.......had to digest this inaugural Barnes Noble bookclub pick for a bit; had my ups and downs with it to be honest. While THE FEMALE PERSUASION alternates between the lives of four characters, the main focus is on a young adult, Greer about to graduate high school, her relationship with her boyfriend, lesbian best friend, unusual parents and a woman who turns out to be her mentor. For me, the best and most significant story belongs to Corey....how he handled shocking loss and took charge of a difficult situation for someone so young and in the prime of his life. (Oh Slowy) In contrast, for me, Greer, ok....notably "uncomfortable in the world", searching for direction and purpose in life, showed ambition as well as selfishness in the form of betrayal as she continued along the cure misogyny path. Unfortunately, for me, I became bored with her job, her connection to women's activist Faith Frank and the whole women's rights movement....not that it's not important....its just old news that was (whew!) drawn out way beyond my allotted attention span for this novel. Using books as an antidepressant though....that's a good one Greer! Well developed characters, yes; and "The meaning and uses of power"....I get that, but the overdone subject matter.....that turned THE FEMALE PERSUASION into a long, average ho-hum read for me. Perhaps I'm missing some important message here?