Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

By Anna Quindlen

(Random House, $26, 208 pages)

Who is this author?

I’m guessing you already know who Anna Quindlen is, but if not, here are the high points of her career: Having begun her work in journalism as a copy girl when she was 18, Quindlen joined The New York Times in 1977 as a general assignment reporter and became deputy metropolitan editor in 1983. She wrote the “About New York” column from 1981 to 1983 and created the column, “Life in the 30’s” in 1985. In 1990 Quindlen was the third woman to be given a regular column on its Op-Ed page, called “Public and Private.” A best-selling collection of those columns, “Thinking Out Loud,” was published in 1993, and in 1992 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in newspapers.

She’s also had great success as a novelist, writing six. Four were bestsellers: “Object Lessons” (1991), “One True Thing” (1994), “Black and Blue” (1998) and “Blessings” (2002), several of which were adapted for TV or feature films.

What is this book about?

All of Quindlen’s novels are about women and their relationships. This book is, too, but’s it’s not fiction. It is a memoir in which she offers her thoughts on the seasons of a woman’s life, told from the perspective of a wise and thoughtful writer who has had a privileged career but seems as though she’d fit right in at your next  book club meeting or  night out with the girls.

Here she is on marriage:  “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”

And on raising kids: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

Why you’ll like it:

While not as flat-out funny as Nora Ephron lamenting the state of her aging neck, Quindlen, who is 60 now, can be amusing as well as down-to-earth about life, drawing on her own experiences to present insights that will ring true to her readers. Those in the Baby Boom demographic, as well as many who are older or younger than that vast group, will find much to relate to in Quindlen’s views. Reading her at her best is like having a warm conversation with a long-time friend.

What others are saying:

Says Kirkus Reviews: A humorous, sage memoir from the Pulitzer winner and acclaimed novelist. Like having an older, wiser sister or favorite aunt over for a cup of tea, Quindlen’s …latest book is full of the counsel and ruminations many of us wish we could learn young. The death of her mother from cancer when she was 19 had a profound effect on the author, instilling in her the certainty that “life was short, and therefore it made [her] both driven and joyful” and happy to have “the privilege of aging.” In her sincere and amusing style, the author reflects on feminism, raising her children, marriage and menopause. She muses on the perception of youth and her own changing body image–one of the “greatest gifts [for women] of growing older is trusting your own sense of yourself. …A graceful look at growing older from a wise and accomplished writer–sure to appeal to her many fans, women over 50 and readers of Nora Ephron and similar authors.”

“[Quindlen is] America’s resident sane person,” says The New York Times.

“A reporter by training, a storyteller at heart, [Quindlen’s] writing is personal, humorous, and thought-provoking,” says The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

When is it available?

You can have your “Cake” and read it too from the Downtown Hartford Public Library.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!

Comments are closed.