I whooped with joy when I received an Advanced Review Copy of “The Summer without Men”. There was nothing better I wanted to do at that time than just stretch myself on my bed and read the book. To devour it, to read it word by word and not miss out on anything. I loved “What I Loved” and was waiting to read something else by Ms. Hustvedt right after and yes I read this one.
What happens when out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage? Yes literally calling it that – a pause. What do you do? How do you react? Mia Fredricksen, renowned poet and writer gets asked that by her husband and cracks up to begin with, and then decides to take the summer off and hibernate to the prairie town of her childhood. She rages, she fumes, she bemoans, she suffers silently to begin with and slowly and steadily she gets roped into the lives around her. From her aged mother and her friends to the young neighbor with her disastrous husband and kids to the puberty-hit girls in her poetry class.
Mia then begins to see things differently (Surprise! Surprise!) and while doing that she comes across problems bigger than her own. She learns to see people differently and also corresponds online with the anonymous and sometimes abusive Mr. Nobody. Though initially trapped in a cerebral solitude Mia opens up and in doing so, she lets in some much needed air in her life.
This is not a chick-lit book. This is pure writing and thankfully it does not take pages to describe what the characters are going through. I loved The Summer without Men because it is not pretentious nor does it claim to be a feminist-central book. The prose is crisp and hits home all the time while you are reading it. Chuckle! Laugh! Grin! Read this book and all these emotions will for sure come alive.
Summer without Men, The; Hustvedt, Siri; Picador; $14.00 – Releasing in March 2011