Sarah H. (Belford, NJ)
Hard to read to the end
In the past I have really enjoyed my First Impressions selections, but I feel that this novel is not my style. I felt that the narrative was very jumpy. Maybe that was what the author intended, however, I felt that it was distracting. I also did not feel an attachment to the characters.
Lucia S. (La Jolla, CA)
I wish that this novel had actually been a "smart, sassy reflection on the varieties of female experience", as Kirkus Reviews asserts. Hustvedt aims at some meaty topics (marriage and fidelity, teenage girlhood, minor and major insanity, aging, childhood imagination...) but never hits a real emotional mark. Her wit and elevated observations feel forced and effortful, her characters remain flat actors reciting lines, and I couldn't make myself care about any of them. Smart, but not nearly smart enough, The Summer Without Men will disappoint readers wanting more of the sharp intellect and swift craftsmanship Hustved revealed in What I Loved.
Cheryl S. (brockport, new york)
not my type
really not what i envisioned , i really forced myself to read through this book i felt it to be boring.
Edith R. (San Diego, CA)
The Summer Without Men
Mia's 30 year old marriage is on Pause, so she spends a summer with her mother and her aging and ailing friends, and teaches poetry to seventh grade girls. The book is a pleasant intellectual meditation about women, love, marriage, aging, adolescent girls. The best parts of the book are when she writes about the dynamics of the 7 young girls, however when Hustvedt writes about the differences of the sexes, it reads more like an essay or a semi-scientific article, than a novel. Overall The Summer Without Men is a less satisfying novel, than her What I Loved.
Marnie C. (Baltimore, MD)
The Summer Without Men
Hustvedt's fifth novel details a poet’s mid-life reassessment of her marriage during one transformative summer. While the ending wraps up matters a bit too neatly, the narrator's strong voice proves both comforting and thought-provoking throughout. Smart summer reading for those seeking alternatives to typical “beach reads”.
Mary P. (Church Road, VA)
Chick Lit DEEP
The Summer Without Men is a dense, witty, feminist exploration of gender through literature, philosphy and neuroscience, and secondarily through the eyes of the 50-something narrator Mia as she retreats to her hometown after a nervous breakdown prompted by her husband's midlife-crisis affair with a (naturally!) younger woman. This is a very intellectual book--the reader, if interested, may find herself pausing frequently to "Google" obscure Latin phrases, unfamiliar contemporary poets, and, frankly, for me, hitherto unheard-of sociobiologists and antique if not ancient Men (ironic emphasis on "men") of Learning. Don't be intimidated, though! While occasionally the book seems less like a novel and more like a feminist lecture or outright rant, it's wry and humorous and there's just enough (somewhat banal) "outside" touching the "inside" to keep the pages turning. I was strongly reminded of Marilyn French's excellent 70s-era novel The Women's Room and think that any readers' group with a focus on women's issues would greatly enjoy The Summer Without Men.