21 out of 22 reviewers rate Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake 4 or 5 stars, making her memoir a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
Quindlen's series of wise and wonderful essays perfectly depicts what it is like to travel, as a woman, through life. This is a delicious memoir that I will read over and over (Ann O). This little gem makes readers aware of the many blessings we have as we journey through life (Cynthia S). Each essay chronicles a passage of life told in Quindlen's warm, heartfelt manner. Subjects include raising children, friendships, working mothers and more. Reading Anna Quindlen is like having coffee with a girlfriend - it is definitely good for the soul (Jan T). Any new book by Anna Quindlen is a treat, but this one is especially lovely (Patti F). Her desire to age gracefully will resonate with anyone who is thinking about it and wondering what will come next. I am so glad the last chapter of this book is titled, "To Be Continued." I will be waiting (Patty).
Many readers felt that Quindlen's writing expressed their own feelings:
Anna Quindlen's book of memoirs and observations is fascinating. I have always enjoyed her writing and certainly hope there is more on the way. She talks about times and attitudes that I have many times felt but couldn't seem to articulate (Irene M). Like the author, I raised a family while working outside our home. Older women can relate to her joys and struggles to fulfill the traditional roles of a woman (wife, mother, and daughter) while advancing in a career. Written with optimism and gratitude for all that life offers, the author's positive perspective on aging is evident when she writes "The older we get, the better we get at being ourselves." I highly recommend this book (Helen S). I had never read anything by Anna Quindlen before, but her shared observations on life are witty, honest and relevant. I loved this book (Sue J)!
While others enjoyed her insightful perspective on the aging process:
As I read chapter after chapter, I underlined many passages and whispered to myself, "how true" and "perfectly said." Quindlen's analysis of the "Resting Age Rate" is so right on. It is not our real age, but the age we perceive ourselves to be that is important. Many of us have the personal introspection that is so evident in this book, but only someone like Anna Quindlen can put it into such lovely prose. It's a thoughtful read for most women, particularly those who are "older" and comfortable in their own skin (Susan F). This memoir got me thinking about the important events that were responsible for shaping my life and the decisions I have made along the way (Christine E). The author never pushes her own philosophies on the listener, only shares them and invites us to accept, reject, or re-mold (Mary G).
But a few reviewers had trouble connecting with Quindlen's work:
I had a hard time relating to a woman that has two homes, obviously no shortage of money, and seemingly the perfect husband and three perfect kids (Elise B). The memoir may be a little dry, but the thoughts and feelings that she puts on paper will amaze you (Carole V).
The majority of readers, however, thought the memoir was spot on:
Oh wow, does Quindlen ever get it! Her essays are insightful, perceptive, poignant and wise as she addresses so much of our shared Boomer experiences: marriage and kids, the importance of girlfriends, expectations and let-downs, aging, and premonitions of mortality (Jill S). I thought Quindlen was talking about me and as I read - sentence after sentence, word after word - I was convinced she was writing my thoughts, my feelings. Her searching examination of her adventures is touching, loving, and joyful. Her wisdom is obvious (Bob S).
Who should read this book?
Mature book clubs will enjoy this memoir and be able to relate (Laurette A). I think it's an important book for men to read too, since looking at the world through each others' eyes is so important (Bob S). For those who are not Boomers, the book is an excellent guide to the road ahead (Jill S). Quindlen gives readers a lot to ponder. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is great for book club discussions (Cynthia S).
This review was originally published in May 2012, and has been updated for the April 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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