Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Uncoupling - Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer is an best-selling author I haven't read before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started to read The Uncoupling.

Robby and Dory Lang are high school teachers in a small suburban town in New Jersey. They are favourites among the students, well thought of in the town and still madly in love with each other after 20 plus years. Until...a new drama teacher comes to teach at the school. The play she decides to stage seems to unleash a change and shift in attitudes, outlooks and routine, not just with Robby and Dory, but the entire town.
"It was the cold air of the spell, come to claim her. Other spells were far more dramatic, accompanied as they were by lightning or a sizzling clang of thunderclap. This spell was more subtle, but still when it first came over a woman it was shocking, perhaps even grotesque, and she didn't have any idea that she was under it. Dory Lang simply felt as if she was freezing, and then she was aware of a mild disgust, no, even a mild horror at being touched. Certainly not pleasure, no, even a mild horror at being touched. Certainly not pleasure; none of that for her anymore. Her body momentarily shook - a brief death rattle, a death-of-sex rattle, technically - and then it stopped."
The play? Lysistrata - an ancient Greek comedy in which the women withhold sex in order to persuade the men to end the war.

Although Lysistrata is about denying, The Uncoupling is about loss of interest on the part of the women and the effect it has on the men in their lives and the rippling repercussions. Although Dory is the lead character, the other women in the town were just as interesting. I liked that Wolitzer explored women of all ages and life situations. Each age has a different outlook and situation to draw from. I very much enjoyed the exploration of the effects on all of the residents of the town, not just the women.

Where I got a little bogged down was the 'spell' part of the book. The ending was okay but a little too 'magical' for me - although the unnamed narrator of the book seems finally revealed. Albert Einstein once said, "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

The Uncoupling is a fascinating exploration or marriage, desire, intimacy and relationships that will have you stopping to think. This would be a thought provoking choice for a book club. Read an excerpt of The Uncoupling.


Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Oh, this does look good. I wen through a huge classic and my sister is still in (or, I guess ON) that stage (she teaches college theater). I loved loved the pacifist, feminist idea of Lysistrata and need to read it again.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to reading this one. My copy is packed away right now, but I'll dig it out come fall and our final move to new housing. I'm hearing good things about THE UNCOUPLING!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Sounds interesting!

Dorte H said...

It sounds interesting, but also a bit sinister.

bermudaonion said...

This certainly sounds different. I'm anxious to give it a try.

Unknown said...

This book is getting so much publicity, everyone seems to be reading it and talking about it.
I'll have to check into the book for myself.