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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir (2012)

by Anna Quindlen

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7577622,502 (3.71)69
In this irresistible memoir, the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author writes about her life and the lives of women today, looking back and ahead--and celebrating it all--as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all that stuff in our closets, and more.
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» See also 69 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
A book ostensibly written for women who are growing older, but the look at life that Quindlen takes is applicable for all adults. The only negative note is that the examples she gives are those primarily of the 1%--the city house and the country house, for example, and how they support her life--while the lives of the working class and how they might find meaning are much less clear. Having written that last comment, though, I must remember that one should write about what you know, and Quindlen is indeed writing about what she knows. ( )
  larrybenfield | Jul 14, 2021 |
Wonderful. Anna Quindlen at sixty has a lot of wisdom to share, and she writes eloquently as always on aging, death, marriage, friendship, motherhood, etc. The Reading Group guide at the end of the e-book edition I read, which lets us sit in on a little chat between Quindlen and her good friend Meryl Streep (!), was a delicious little cherry-on-top voyeuristic capper to a really enjoyable read. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
First of all, despite what the cover claims, this isn't a memoir. It's a collection of short essays about the writer's life, but it isn't once cohesive work that could reasonably be called a memoir in my opinion. Second, I should say up front that this isn't a book I would have picked up to read for myself, but it was a gift, so I dived in. I can't, however, say that I actually enjoyed it.

Quindlen's essays here are clearly built for her long-time fans who already know her and love her. And while there's nothing wrong with the writing itself, nothing about this told me why or how she's developed such a longtime following. Most of these essays portrayed her as self-absorbed and fairly spoiled--not someone I want to spend a few hundred pages with. Maybe women who have nothing better to do than talk on the phone with a best friend for an hour every day and go shopping and redecorate their homes will relate to her, but a lot of pieces of this made me cringe in a "Women like this actually exist out there?" kind of way. Making it worse, none of the so-called wisdom here is anything new, though it's often portrayed as such, making it clear that the writer thinks herself pretty smart enough though it often felt like she was just communicating common sense, or lessons that have been communicated over and over again over the years via heftier pieces of literature and other memoirists.

This might have been better if the author hadn't thought herself so clever, but it really did feel like she just loved to hear herself talk/write, and thought everyone else would, as well.

As I mentioned, I know this writer has a loyal following and a great reputation.... but there's nothing here that would lead me to recommend this book. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jan 26, 2020 |
My dear Aunt Gina sent me a hardcover copy so I was inclined to read this, and then our book club chose it. We muddled through a discussion of marriage (p.22-23) and argued about whether she would call herself an alcoholic or not (p.60). Our favorite part, hands down, was p.89-90 where she discussed the stories/lies we tell ourselves. Since I am the sole practicing Catholic in the group, someone asked me what I thought of her discussion of church and faith. I thought she nailed it herself in saying that she just did not go deeper. "I'm stuck too close to the surface."
Hard to recommend this book to anyone other than those who already love her but then: there are many who do.

p.s. Three days later: it often takes awhile for a book to percolate. I realize there is a part of the text which we did not discuss and which is rising repeatedly to the surface these past couple of days: Anna Quindlan's discussion of our loss of power as we age. It's terrifying, this diminishment. We fantasize (tell our self story-lies) but it becomes increasingly clear as we age that we lose - everything. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
“The older we get the more we understand that the women who know and love us, and love us despite what they know about us, are the joists that hold up the house of our existence.”

“We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us, but so they will be strong enough to leave us.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Nov 7, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Suddenly sixty, Quindlen finds herself looking back on her life. She's not so much wondering how she got where she is but, rather, considering how the choices she made and the chances she took along the way have prepared her for the road ahead. What even to call this next stage in a woman's life? Not elderly, certainly, yet definitely no longer young, this middle-aged morass can be hard to navigate. Friendships fade, fashions flummox, the body wimps out, and the mind has a mind of its own. One can either fight it or face it. In her own unmistakably reasonable way, Quindlen manages to do both, with grace and agility, wisdom and wit, sending out comforting affirmations while ardently confronting preconceived stereotypes and societal demands.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist (Mar 4, 2013)
 
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It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult.
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But at this stage in my life, I'm not interested in being with people who don't have my back.
...Friends are what we women have in addition to, or in lieu of, therapists.
Life is haphazard. We plan, and then we deal when the plans go awry. Control is an illusion; best intentions are the best we can do.
Old is wherever you haven't gotten to yet.
I want to be able to walk through the house of my own life until my life is done. I want to hold on to who and what I have been even as both become somehow inevitably less.
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In this irresistible memoir, the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author writes about her life and the lives of women today, looking back and ahead--and celebrating it all--as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all that stuff in our closets, and more.

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