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The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt

The Summer without Men (2011)

by Siri Hustvedt

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6845713,957 (3.47)61
  1. 10
    A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf (tandah)
    tandah: Reflection on one's existence in relation to others
  2. 00
    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (thorold)
    thorold: Two novels 160 years apart that explore the roles of women by creating a view of the world in which men are peripheral or irrelevant.
  3. 00
    Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (tandah)

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English (45)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All (58)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
This book had everything I love - depth on topics such as philosophy and literature, gender differences, crazy women, failed relationships, and self-discovery.

My experience with this book reminded me of how it feels to order something off a menu at a restaurant and then be slightly disappointed after you take your first bite, since it doesn't live up to your expectations. HOWEVER, with each bite you begin to feel more satisfied, and realize in the end you made the right decision.

The good news is that I wasn't completely disappointed with this book. As someone who wanted to minor in women's studies - I found myself more interested in areas that addressed gender differences. The story line involving the girls' poetry class was entertaining and all-too familiar to anyone who has ever felt like an "outsider". I identified with Alice right from the beginning, the "book worm" in the bunch, and then as the story went on I sympathized with her and her role in the all girls poetry class. Reading some of the instances in this book made me relive my own childhood experiences.

The bad news is that much of this book is disjointed. Plots start and stop abruptly and don't get picked up for another 20 or so pages. The reader is introduced to characters and then never mentioned again until 30 or 40 pages later - as I felt was the case with the neighbors and even "the five swans" at times. That kind of irritated me. But the more I read, I realized that was just the style of the author's writing, as a way for the reader to understand the narrator's course of events and thoughts. I accepted this after a while when I realized that even our own thoughts and experiences are not presented in nice chapters or chunks of time . . .that they re not always fluid. For this reason, I wish I would've read this in one sitting - I think my experience with the novel would've been very different.

I feel indifferent about the ending, but understand where Mia is coming from at the end of the book.
( )
  mandarella | May 21, 2018 |
I very much enjoyed reading this book. The author Siri Hustvedt has a remarkably gift for storytelling and for writing. Her characters really come alive.

"The Summer Without Men" is the story about what Mia Fredrickson goes through when her husband of thirty years decides, seemingly out of the blue, that he wants to "pause" their marriage. The story follows Mia through a mental breakdown that temporarily lands her in a mental hospital, after which she returns to her childhood home in Minnesota for the summer. There she regularly visits with her mother, and is hired to teach poetry to a group of prepubescent girls. In the midst of struggling with her own issues, Mia begins communication with an unknown person calling himself Mr. Nobody. She becomes immersed in the drama of her students, as well as in life inside the "home" where her mother and the group of ladies dubbed "the swans" reside. She befriends Abigail, an old woman who introduces her to the secret amusements (scenes embroidered and hidden within other things). Mia also finds herself friends with her young neighbor and her two children.

Overall, "The Summer Without Men" seems to tackle many issues in a comical manner which include but are not limited to: marital issues, growing older, childhood issues (such as bullying and imaginary friends), and the pain of loss. ( )
  BookGeekBeth | Apr 18, 2018 |
Thought provoking. I haven't read a book quite like it. The author tackles heavy topics from societal view of women to old age and death to what it means to be a couple. Overall, I enjoyed it. ( )
  BefuddledPanda | Dec 4, 2017 |
A wry, witty, intelligent novel. ( )
  maryhollis | Feb 20, 2017 |
If you enjoyed Nora Ephron's HEARBURN, then you may very well like Siri Hustvedt's THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN. In fact, Mia, the narrator of this book would have a lot in common with Rachel Samstat. The book begins with The Pause - after a 30+ year marriage, the narrator's husband decides that he wants a trial separation so that he can enjoy the attentions of a much younger woman. Sent into a rage, Mia eventually spends some time in a psychiatric hospital and continues to process her breakdown during the summer months that follow.

Mia sublets a house near her elderly mother in Minnesota, and befriends her mother's friends (The Swans) and her neighbor Lola. Siri Hustvedt does a marvelous job of enlivening and enlightening the lives of women who, all too often, are cast aside because of their advanced age. These women are not sitting in rocking chairs, knitting blankets or sweaters, nor are they playing incessant rounds of BINGO. They hold a regular book club, and are rather infamous among the other residents of the Independent Living community. They are vibrant, saucy, funny women who have led colorful and deep lives. One of the women is so driven to occupy her mind, after a divorce, that she joins a sewing group and stitches explicit scenes into the linings of her clothes. Lola has a tumultuous and verbally abusive relationship with her husband, which affects their two young children.

During the summer, Mia - a writer - teaches a short poetry course to a group of middle-school girls in the local area. When one of the students is ostracized and bullied by the other girls, the narrator is forced to come to terms with her own childhood experiences of bullying and fear. She also helps the girls learn empathy through poetry, and everyone has a transformative experience.

Possibly as a result of her mental instability, Mia writes the book with a very self-conscious and self-deprecating tone. The book is generally written in third person, but there are large sections where the reader is addressed directly. This has the effect of reminding the reader that he/she is not actually living the experience along with Mia, and gives it a sense of "breaking the fourth wall" as might happen in theater, movies, or television. It was a bit jarring at first, but eventually became a source of lightheartedness and reprieve.

While I enjoyed the story, and the narrative voice, I couldn't help but guess, early on, how the book would end. Despite its predictability, the characterization was lovely and her depictions of both the elderly and teenagers was a delight. It was an enjoyable reading experience, and I look forward to reading more of Siri Hustvedt's fiction and non-fiction in the future. ( )
  BooksForYears | Jan 29, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Here, although the subject matter is serious - a woman's search for her lost identity - the tempo is upbeat. In a narrative without chapter breaks, Hustvedt explores the idea that differences between the genders is less important than "how much difference the difference makes".
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.
Velment, men ikke helt vellykket
Siri Hustvedt er med sitt navn og sine aner liksom litt norsk, selv om hun er oppvokst i Minnesota og nå bor i Brooklyn. Hun skriver sine bøker på engelsk, og de oversettes til mange språk, deriblant norsk. Hennes siste roman er velment, men ikke udelt vellykket.
added by annek49 | editNRK, Anne Cathrine Straume (Mar 22, 2011)
Spenstig om kvinneliv
Siri Hustvedts nye roman «Sommeren uten menn» har en overraskende letthet kombinert med en intellektuell spenst og vitalitet som synes å ha blitt forfatterens varemerke.
Siri Hustvedt byr på mye humor og mye klok menneskelig innsikt i denne nye og tynne lille romanen på drøye 200 sider. Med utgangspunkt i en utroskapshistorie av den svært konvensjonelle og slitesterke typen: Middelaldrende ektemann vil ha en pause fra sitt 30-årige fellesliv med sin kone Mia for å dyrke sin nye franske og unge lidenskap, stiger det fram en fortelling om kvinneliv i flere generasjoner. Det hele fortalt med omtanke og omsorg, med brutalt klarsyn og med høyt refleksjonsnivå
added by annek49 | editDagsavisen, Turid Larsen (Mar 16, 2011)
Er det mulig å tilgi en utro ektemann?
Siri Hustvedt har skrevet en sjeldent god bok ANMELDELSE: Når jeg leser en bok, setter jeg alltid eselører ved de sidene der jeg finner noe virkelig godt. I «Sommeren uten menn» kunne jeg gjerne hatt flere på hver eneste side. For dette er en sjeldent god bok
added by annek49 | editDagbladet, Cathrine Krøger (Mar 14, 2011)
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LUCY (Irene Dunne): You're all confused, aren't you?
JERRY (Cary Grant): Uh-huh. Aren't you?
JERRY: Well, you should be, because you're wrong about things being different because they're not the same. Things are different, except in a different way. You're still the same, only I've been a fool. Well, I'm not now. So, as long as I'm different, don't you think things could be the same again? Only a little different.

- "The Awful Truth"
directed by Leo McCarey
screenplay by Viña Delmar
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Sometime after he said the word "pause", I went mad and landed in the hospital.
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Mia is forced to reexamine her life when her husband puts their marriage on "pause" after thirty years. She returns to the prairie town of her childhood, and is drawn into the lives of those around her.

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