Riverhead Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-59448-354-7.
Reviewed by Jennifer Melville
Posted on 03/31/2009
"One by one the women began their separate and familiar routines," wrote Meg Wolitzer in her novel The Ten Year Nap, "Unlike in the past, there were no presentations to give, no fears of having to keep vast savannahs of information in their heads all morning and then, at eleven A.M., having to recite it all aloud to a roomful of colleagues. Because now there were no colleagues, just as there were no conference calls or lunches with "a client." All of that was over, and when the alarms sounded in the morning and the women were startled awake, they sometimes took a momentary dip into the memory of what they had left behind, and then, with varying degrees of relief or regret, they let the memory go."
The Ten Year Nap is the story of several women raising their children in modern day New York City. Each had a successful career or academic life before having children. Now, their children and husbands are their lives, and each is fighting an internal battle to find happiness and her rightful place in the world. One woman is contemplating re-entering the workforce now that her son is ten-years-old, but isn't sure what direction to take. She was a lawyer before her son was born, but was never happy practicing law. Another woman reveals that she has not fallen in love with her adopted daughter and fears for the child's future. Why can't she love and accept her child, as every other parent seems capable of doing?
Wolitzer's novel is very descriptive, written in the academic style often found in college narrative writing courses. There are numerous underlying themes, such as feminism and its impact on the modern woman, the meaning of marriage, and the battle (mental or real) between working vs. stay-at-home mothers. The Ten Year Nap takes some effort to read, yet it is intelligent, witty, and brings to light many of the challenges faced by modern women.
I expected to connect with these characters since I am a homemaker as well, yet none of the women's stories touched me on a personal level. However, they did make for interesting reading. I recommend this book to anyone who has a little time and determination to devote to it. You will be glad you did.
Meg Wolitzer is the author of seven previous novels. Her short fiction has appeared in "The Best American Short Stories" and "The Pushcart Prize." She lives in New York.
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