Friday, April 15, 2011

A Cold Spell

As some of you may recall from my past blogs, I am not a fan of plots that revolve around ghosts or curses or spells or other supernatural occurrences. Don't ask me to suspend disbelief unless you're really going to make it worth my while. So I was not the ideal reader for Meg Wolitzer's The Uncoupling.

The story unfolds at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the town of Stellar Plains, New Jersey, where a new drama teacher arrives and announces that the next production will be “Lysistrata”, the classic Aristophanes comedy about the women of Greece withholding sex in order to force their men to end the Peloponnesian War. And then an odd thing begins to happen to all the females at the school, whether they are teachers, students, or spouses. They are each touched by a cold wind which seems to cast a spell over them. And – you guessed it – no more sex, fellas.

Wolitzer takes her time with each of her female characters, developing them as flesh and blood women with aspirations and feelings. And although they are not trying to end a war, each has a believable reason that would help to explain her sudden cooling of ardor. The sexual partners of these libido-free gals are portrayed quite sympathetically as well. Wolitzer clearly isn't on a rant to trash the male species; she's examining the subtle things that can take a relationship off the tracks. She has a smooth, uncluttered writing style and a great sense of humor.

Having spun out all these storylines, Wolitzer then has to braid them all together in the last fifty pages. Her device, although somewhat predictable, was still fun to watch unfold. I'm still not the ideal reader for books that revolve around magic spells, but I'll admit that this was an entertaining read.
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1 comment:

  1. Interesting. As a male reader of the book, I didn't think the sexual partners were portrayed sympathetically at all. They were shown as rather pathetic and, with the exception of Eli, unable to move onward with their lives (whether with their partner or without), stuck in a constant refrain of "please have sex with me" that was driven, it is implied, by the fact that men simplistically have to have sex.