Skip to main content
Displaying 1 of 1
Please select and request a specific volume by clicking one of the icons in the 'Find It' section below.
Find It
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

SUDDENLY unmoored in her 41st year, Amy Lamb is drifting in a familiar midlife sea of ambivalence and regret. Like many other Manhattan mothers, she left a career to raise her child. But now her son, Mason, is 10 and increasingly independent; Leo, her kindly, overworked husband, is more and more remote, burrowing ever deeper into the files he brings home at night. And as for her long-lost career - she was a corporate lawyer in the middling firm where she'd met Leo - well, it was really never that absorbing. Amy's circle includes Roberta Sokolov, an artist turned full-time mother whose own career, like Amy's, never quite blossomed, and Jill Hamlin, her best friend from college, who carries around a whole satchelful of disappointments: a failed dissertation, years of infertility, an inability to connect with her placid, adopted daughter. As in earlier novels like "The Wife" and "This Is Your Life," Meg Wolitzer presents a taxonomy of the subspecies known as the urban female. Lavishly educated and ruefully self-aware, the women in "The Ten-Year Nap" are never quite at the top of their game, time and success having passed them by - because of their gender, weak ambition, middling talent or some combination thereof. Amy and her friends aren't total losers, they're just not big technicolor winners. Caught between the second and third waves of feminism, they've created lives - as daughters do - in opposition to those of their mothers. All this could make for a dreary soup, except that it's a Wolitzer novel, so it's very entertaining. The tartly funny Wolitzer is a miniaturist who can nail a contemporary type, scene or artifact with deadeye accuracy. Amy, for example, is exasperated by her son's fondness for science fiction. Noting that the book he's chosen for their bedtime reading has a "crenelated and immodestly faux-filigreed" spine, she mocks its portentous, inanely named characters: "But the Moorchaser, of course, was not a man, he was a Frailkin, and none of his species had ever entered the Zone before." "What the hell is a Frailkin?" Amy wonders irritably. New York, post-9/11, is also a character, displaying a "dented, temporary quality that made it seem even more valuable, in the way that fragility always increases the price of a thing of beauty." Amy and her family live in a "huge, homely rental building," unable to afford to buy their own place. "The rent battered and shook them; it sucked the money away from them each month as if it were stored in the wind tunnel of the lobby." Amy develops a girl crush, as women often do, on Penny Ramsey, the "tiny, golden-headed" director of a small urban museum. She's a paragon, with her three handsome children, her hedge-fund-manager husband, her fulfilling job and her perfect baby sitter, who deploys the phrase "cruciferous vegetables" with aplomb. Penny, it turns out, is having an affair with an adorable young British art curator. Soon Amy becomes the audience that supports and fuels their relationship, its drama distracting her from her own existential malaise. The central question of "The Ten-Year Nap"-what is the proper role for a postindustrial, post-second-wave-of-feminism woman at midlife? Or, to paraphrase Roberta, "How will you bear the rest of your life?" - is given a medley of answers. Wolitzer has structured her book so the present-day action alternates with chapters from the past - vignettes of Roberta's, Amy's and Jill's mothers and other female role models. The painter Magritte's devoted wife makes a confounding appearance: her role in life was to be her husband's model. You get what Wolitzer is trying to do (shades of "The Hours" here), but it can be distracting: so many women! There's the string theorist mother at the elite boys' school Roberta's and Amy's sons attend (maybe Wolitzer just finds the words "string theorist" innately funny, and gets a kick out of typing them?); the divorced anorexic with her death's-head and tiny body; and even a house-husband, about whom Wolitzer writes, "You were initially pleased by him, but then after a short while you felt slightly annoyed. He seemed like a loiterer here in the world that the women had formed for themselves." The husbands are by and large a saintly lot, working like dogs to support wives set free first from the professional grind and now from the tedium of caring for young children. Amy's husband transgresses in tiny, sad ways: padding himself at night with cookies ; cheating, as Amy discovers, on his expense reports. The denouement of Penny and lan's fling is jarring and more than a little bizarre, after which Penny retreats into the insulated worlds of her marriage and her class. (Rich people are different.) Amy, Jill and Roberta click back into gear too, in small but nonetheless forward-moving ways. Wolitzer, whose characters can sometimes be almost too tidy - or too much of a type - has given this group a not altogether tidy resolution. Which seems only fair. As Jill says: "This is the ending. It's just not satisfying, that's all." The ambivalent women in Meg Wolitzer's latest novel left their careers to raise their children. Penelope Green is a reporter for the House & Home section of The Times.

  Library Journal Review

Four friends who have given up their careers for motherhood get antsy when they encounter an accomplished working mother of three who seems to have it all. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

Wolitzer, best-selling author of The Wife (2003) and The Position (2005), brings some much needed compassion and a rare wit to the contentious divide separating mothers who work from those who don't. Four New York friends meet regularly at a local diner to commiserate over the more banal aspects of life as stay-at-home moms. All of them possess Ivy League degrees and more than a nodding acquaintance with the world of work, including law, banking, and film production. After having children, however, they opted to stay home because, in the words of Amy, the main character, a new mother was not in her right mind. Something overcame her, and her entire purpose was to save that baby, as though she were a superhero flying with arms outstretched through the metropolitan sky. Now, 10 years into raising her child, a bored Amy attends interminable fund-raising meetings for her son's private school while scribbling kill me now on a napkin. Then she becomes friends with a sophisticated urbanite who appears to have it all a family, wealth, and a glamorous career. But a shocking glimpse into her friend's flawed moral core and into her own family's precarious finances gives her the jolt she needs to move on to the next phase in her life. It's a rare novelist who can transform domestic fiction into a sustained, smart, and funny inquiry into the price of ambition, the value of work, issues of class, and the meaning of motherhood Wolitzer is that novelist.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2007 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A wise, witty assessment of the contemporary dilemmas of middle-class mothers (in particular: to work or not to work), set in the competitive terrain of New York City parenting. Using the comfortable format of friendship between four women, Wolitzer's eighth novel (The Position, 2005, etc.) takes ironic stock of how far females have (and haven't) come since feminism tried to rearrange the work/life balance between the sexes. Lawyer Amy Lamb has still not gone back to her job after the birth of her son ten years ago. Her good friend Jill, a one-time prizewinner who recently left Manhattan for the suburbs with her family, is finding it hard to fit in. Their circle also includes ex-artist Roberta who, like Amy, feels happier without the pressures of a job, yet senses dissatisfactions and uncertainty about her identity; and mathematician Karen, whose Chinese parents take great satisfaction in her not needing to work. The women meet for coffee or yoga and mutual support. Aside from Jill's jealousy of Amy's new friendship with glamorous museum director Penny, unaware that the relationship is driven by a shared secret (Penny's extramarital affair), plot events are few. Instead, Wolitzer uses modern domesticity as a lens through which to scrutinize mixed feelings about ambition, marriage, aging, money and the peculiar results of the women's individual choices. Further telling comparisons arise from glimpses of women of their mothers' generation. Instead of conclusions, there are some gradual changes, sometimes for the better. A perceptive, highly pleasurable novel that serves as Wolitzer's up-to-date answer to the old question: "What do women want?" Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
From the bestselling author of The Wife and The Position, a feverishly smart novel about female ambition, money, class, motherhood, and marriage-and what happens in one community when a group of educated women chooses not to work. For a group of four New York friends, the past decade has been largely defined by marriage and motherhood. Educated and reared to believe that they would conquer the world, they then left jobs as corporate lawyers, investment bankers, and film scouts to stay home with their babies. What was meant to be a temporary leave of absence has lasted a decade. Now, at age forty, with the halcyon days of young motherhood behind them and without professions to define them, Amy, Jill, Roberta, and Karen face a life that is not what they were brought up to expect but seems to be the one they have chosen. But when Amy gets to know a charismatic and successful working mother of three who appears to have fulfilled the classic women's dream of having it all-work, love, family-without having to give anything up, a lifetime's worth of concerns, both practical and existential, opens up. As Amy's obsession with this woman's bustling life grows, it forces the four friends to confront the choices they've made in opting out of their careers-until a series of startling events shatters the peace and, for some of them, changes the landscape entirely. Written in Meg Wolitzer's inimitable, glittering style, The Ten-Year Nap is wickedly observant, knowing, provocative, surprising, and always entertaining, as it explores the lives of these women with candor, wit, and generosity.
Displaying 1 of 1