I don't often post about books. I think it's because so few impress me, or at least so few contemporary novels leave a lasting impression on me. When asked to list my favourites I always flounder and revert to old cherished tomes a la Austen and co. I do read a lot of books and there are many I enjoy, but not all stand the test of time, which I guess is why I'm hesitant to name them.
Not so with this one. Firstly, I am already a dedicated fan of Siri Hustvedt. I would put her novel What I Loved on my desert island list instantly... and now I'll be adding this one, The Summer Without Men.
I'm not going to write a review as such, I just want to recommend it. I want to tell you how startling it is to sit down and read a novel about one thing and then discover that it's about so much more. The subject is seemingly about that age-old topic of partners wandering off... midlife crisis, menoporsche... whatever you want to call it. But that's just a skin that encases the vast ideas contained in this book; it's just the wrapping that draws you in.
At one point in the story, the narrator refers to finding a voice for Everywoman in much the same way that our culture has nurtured and formed the Everyman of literature.... and I think that's exactly what this book is trying to achieve. Within the simple conventions of the narrative, it encompasses a myriad of female experiences and distills these into something that seemed all-encompassing to me. Who we are, as women, and what we do.
By the end you find yourself not really caring about the 'menoporsche' because your thoughts are buzzing with all the other ideas raised throughout the text. It becomes merely one of many examples of the endurance circuit that life can be. I found myself wondering whether this was Siri Hustvedt's contemporary feminist treatise.
I'm not explaining this very well... If you do have an opportunity to read it, I'd love to hear what you think. I'm on to some non-fiction now (always a great breather between novels I find) but I'll be reading The Summer Without Men again very soon :)
Siri Hustvedt's website