Friday, May 27, 2011

Julie's Review: The Uncoupling

The Uncoupling Summary: The latest from Wolitzer (The Ten Year Nap) is a plodding story with a killer hook: will the women of Stellar Plains, N.J., ever have sex again? After new high school drama teacher Fran Heller begins rehearsals for Lysistrata (in which the women of Greece refuse to have sex until the men end the Peloponnesian War), every girl and woman in the community is overcome by a "spell" that causes them to lose all desire for sex. No one is immune, not Dory Lang and her husband, Robby, the most popular English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School; not Leanne Bannerjee, the beautiful school psychologist; or the overweight college counselor Bev Cutler, shackled to a callous hedge-fund manager husband. The Langs' teenaged daughter, Willa, who eventually lands the lead in the play, is also afflicted, wreaking havoc on her relationship with Fran's son, Eli. Despite the great premise and Wolitzer's confident prose, the story never really picks up any momentum, and the questions posed—about parenthood, sacrifice, expectations, and the viability of long-term relationships in the age of Twitter—are intriguing but lack wallop.

Review: Well this one has been getting a lot of buzz, but being that I wasn't a fan of Meg Wolitzer's book The Ten Year Nap, I was hesitant about reading it. Then I won it from Library Thing's Early Reviewers and gave it a whirl. The Uncoupling is a unique and intersting look at human nature; specifically the nature of sex in our relationships. What would happen if the women in your town all the sudden had a spell come over them that stopped them from wanting any kind of intimacy with their partner? How would they react? How would their partners react?

Meg Wolitzer explores just this in her new book and more. We are introduced to the town of Stellar Plains, NJ and to the teachers at Elenor Roosevelt High School. These end up being the central characters to the book, in addition to new drama teacher Frann Heller and her son Eli. The spell comes over each women at different times and effects them in different ways but essentially effects their sex lives.

Sure, the book examines the sex lives of couples. From those who have it quite frequently, those who haven't had it regularly in years, and those who have it but it's not satisfying. Ms. Wolitzer even examines the sex lives of several teenagers in the book, which might make some readers uncomfortable but it's the reality.

I won't say there were any favorite characters in the book. For me, the book was more a study on sex/intimacy in relationships and the characters were those portals for the examination.

What always strikes me is how sex is viewed so differently between men and women. For women, sure at times it's about the act of sex but more often than not it's about the intimacy it brings to a relationship. This isn't the case for all women either but it tends to be the majority. It was interesting to read how having sex taken away affected the men. Some withdrew, some became hostile, some heartbroken/downtrodden and some confused. Regardless, it changes their relationship with the women in their lives dramatically; for good or for bad.

Can these couples find their way back to each other? Can they overcome the changes in their relationship? Should it change how they relate to each other?

In the end there is a good twist, that was alluded to during the novel but seemed extremely fitting in the end. The story was wrapped up in a satisfying manner for this reader.

Final Take: 4.25/5



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