This book is devastating. I've read quite a bit about how women's writing is suppressed, but analytic cultural criticism is one thing and a novel dealing with the same things is another. I read this book through in one sitting, horrified and transfixed. Joan Castleman is an intense character, morally complex and fully realized in a way that women characters are all-too-often not allowed to be. Joe Castleman, the husband, also feels authentic to me, like male writers I have known and loathed. The circumstances of their life together also felt fully realized and authentic in a way that made me furious--not at the book but at the world. Anyone who loves a female artist should read this book, as should anyone who as ever voiced an opinion about why there aren't more 'great' women writers--or 'great' women actors, painters, musicians, etc.
A good read - soon to be released movie with Glenn Close.
I enjoyed this book even though I wished that Wolitzer provided more depth to the characters. However, it was an entertaining satirical depiction of the post-WWII crowd of male authors (read Updike, Bellow, Cheever types) with huge egos along with prodigious skirt-chasing. The ending was a bit of a surprise to me and ultimately not believable, but I won't give it away. Wolitzer is a prolific, fun writer who tackles major issues (such as sexism and family dysfunction). I hope her writing matures into better character development.
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