The Summer Without Men: A Novel
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"And who among us would deny Jane Austen her happy endings or insist that Cary Grant and Irene Dunne should get back together at the end of The Awful Truth? There are tragedies and there are comedies, aren't there? And they are often more the same than different, rather like men and women, if you ask me. A comedy depends on stopping the story at exactly the right moment."
Mia Fredrickson, the wry, vituperative, tragic comic, poet narrator of The Summer Without Men, has been forced to reexamine her own life. One day, out of the blue, after thirty years of marriage, Mia's husband, a renowned neuroscientist, asks her for a "pause." This abrupt request sends her reeling and lands her in a psychiatric ward. The June following Mia's release from the hospital, she returns to the prairie town of her childhood, where her mother lives in an old people's home. Alone in a rented house, she rages and fumes and bemoans her sorry fate. Slowly, however, she is drawn into the lives of those around her―her mother and her close friends,"the Five Swans," and her young neighbor with two small children and a loud angry husband―and the adolescent girls in her poetry workshop whose scheming and petty cruelty carry a threat all their own.
From the internationally bestselling author of What I Loved comes a provocative, witty, and revelatory novel about women and girls, love and marriage, and the age-old question of sameness and difference between the sexes.
fight between girls or women is a catfight, one characterized by scratching, biting, slapping, flying skirts, and a scent of the ridiculous or, conversely, of erotic spectacle for male enjoyment, the delectable vision of two women “going at it.” There is nothing noble about emerging victorious from such a squabble. There is no such thing as a good, clean catfight. As I sat there looking at Alice’s sad, red countenance, I imagined her socking Ashley in the jaw and wondered if the masculine
heels; all of this will have to be dealt with. And we all know that simultaneity is a BIG problem for words. They come in sequence, always, only in sequence, so while I sort it out, I will refer to Dr. Johnson. Referring to Dr. Johnson in a pinch is a good bet, our own man of the English language, our wise, fat, gouty, scrofulous, kindhearted, witty glutton, a being of authority, to whom we can all turn in moments of trouble, a cultural pater familias who was so important he had his own man
defeating a robber in six frames from the Chicago Art Institute that hangs over the sofa, I cannot say, but it is a great work even in reproduction.) Ellen Wright, who once trained in social work, now employed as an administrator at the Bonden Health Clinic, opens the forum with a short speech, during which she uses the current verb of choice to describe the events in question: bullying. She notes its prevalence, its potential damage to long-term mental health, notes that girls are sneakier and
fit well, so his manipulator settled for the entrance of the fellow’s head and neck in-house, body beyond. I returned to my book, but the child’s voice pulled me away now and again by small exclamations and loud humming. A brief silence was followed by a sudden lament: “Too bad I’m real so I can’t go in my little house and live!” I remembered, remembered that threshold world of Almost, where wishes are nearly real. Could it be that my dolls stirred at night? Had the spoon moved of its own
with no breasts, constantly adjusted her arms and legs as if they were alien limbs. Jessica Lorquat was tiny, but she had the body of a woman. A false atmosphere of femininity hung about her that made itself known chiefly in an affectation—a cooing baby voice. Ashley Larsen, sleek brown hair, slightly protruding eyes, walked and sat with the self-conscious air that comes with a newly acquired erogenous zone—holding herself chest-out to display growing buds. Emma Hartley withdrew behind a veil of