The Summer Without Men

Siri Hustvedt

The Summer Without Men

Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you: a) assume it's a passing affair and play along; b) angrily declare the marriage over; c) crack up; d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup? Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her circle of feisty widows; her young neighbour, with two small children and a loud, angry husband; and the diabolical pubescent girls in her poetry class. By the end of the summer without men, wiser though definitely not sadder, Mia knows what she wants to fight for and on whose terms. 3.2 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Summer Without Men

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General
Format Hardcover
Pages 224
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication March 2011
ISBN 978-1444710526
Publisher Sceptre
 

Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you: a) assume it's a passing affair and play along; b) angrily declare the marriage over; c) crack up; d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup? Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her circle of feisty widows; her young neighbour, with two small children and a loud, angry husband; and the diabolical pubescent girls in her poetry class. By the end of the summer without men, wiser though definitely not sadder, Mia knows what she wants to fight for and on whose terms.

Read The Omnivore's roundup for The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt

Reviews

The Observer

Lisa Appignanesi

The Summer Without Men is a new departure. Despite its painful subject matter – marital rupture, encroaching death, the tormenting antics of malice-ridden girls – the novel is a mordant comedy. And unlike Hustvedt's earlier, carefully woven fictions, this one wears its seams on the outside. It plays with fictionality, invoking the "dear readers" that we are, and making a mockery of sequential time on the page.

20/02/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Philip Womack

Hustvedt creates a voice for Mia that is witty, concise, demanding; delighted by the concordances of sounds in words, compassionate and aware of its own faults. Hustvedt shows us Mia as she stumbles through the female relationships around her, all painted in with a wry eye... The physical text too is spiky and surprising, with no chapter breaks, and poems of dubious worth (presumably Mia’s) interwoven...

05/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

Lucy Scholes

Despite some troubling typecasting, this is a rich and intelligent meditation on female identity, written in beguiling lyrical prose. While some may take issue with her claim in the novel that the contemporary literary imagination “emanates a distinctly feminine perfume”, this novel cannot be described otherwise. Its fragrance, however, is heady and intoxicating.

20/02/2011

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The Literary Review

Charlotte Newman

The novel oscillates, sometimes uncomfortably, between raw emotional introspection and academic discourse...

11/03/2011

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The Financial Times

Lionel Shriver

This novel’s primary problem is that it feels made up. We can almost hear the author creaking into the desk chair for another yeoman-like day’s work. I did not believe that Mia ever experienced temporary insanity, for her bout in a mental hospital comes across as a lark – or worse, mere words on the page... Admittedly, Hustvedt aspires to a formal lightness here, inserting poetry, whimsical drawings, and disconcertingly hysterical capitalisations, and her bouncy brevity might have produced a winning tale if only the prose were funny. It isn’t.

26/02/2011

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