Title: The Uncoupling (ARC via LT Early Review program)
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Pub: 2011; Penguin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
The Short of It
When the mood does not strike!
The Long of It
Set in the midst of a small town, the wind seems to blow in more than just a new drama teacher. Fran Heller, drama teacher extraordinaire chooses the Greek play Lysistrata for her debut. Lysistrata tells the story of women protesting war by withholding sex. Very few question the appropriateness of the play since Heller promises to tone down anything terribly inappropriate. Unfortunately, the play seems to have a ghost like charm on the townsfolk as everyone from the very sexually active school psychologist, the lovingly married English teachers, the middle-aged couple, and the explorative high schoolers begin to snub their noses at sex.
The Thoughts about It
This is my first Meg Wolitzer book and I must admit, two weeks since reading it, I am still very much on the fence. Part of me wants to be enthused. Choosing a Greek play as the backdrop is quite smart and the writing ultimately was astute and witty. BUT sometimes it just felt like it was trying too hard to be that a SMART book. Does that make sense? Like, maybe it felt a little pretentious to me? And the ending. Sheesh. The whole time the novel is moving along I’m an intelligent buckaroo…and then as soon as the ending strikes, it’s as though the Cliff Notes version wrapped it up just in case I missed something.
But here’s what I did really like: Robby and Dory, the two English teachers who worked together, loved together, and lived together? They’re relationship was great. It was humorous and yet still a bit snippy. Plus, I thought Wolitzer nailed it how the lack of desire can just sometimes HIT YOU without you expecting it. It’s brave, in my opinion, to bring up in a book the possibility that you could love someone deeply but cringe at the thought of them touching you.
Plus, because there were so many different sexual relationships going on in the novel, it allowed for sexual affections to be explored in all forms. I especially dug the high school girls and their reactions to sexual discovery. Or in the case of the dramaqueen, the possibility of using sex to make a point.
Ouch and there was this one scene…and if you’ve read it, YOU KNOW what scene I’m talking about…between the middle-aged couple that just made me want to turn away, close my eyes tightly and cover my ears. I didn’t want to be privy of their conversation.
And I guess that ultimately does say something HUGELY positive about Wolitzer’s writing. Because there were enough scenes that I felt I was wrongly eavesdropping in on. She captures human interactions PERFECTLY.
So you see why I’m on the fence here? I could easily be swayed either way.