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The Uncoupling
Cover of The Uncoupling
The Uncoupling
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings and The Female Persuasion, a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire. When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar...
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings and The Female Persuasion, a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire. When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar...
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  • From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings and The Female Persuasion, a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire.
    When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play Lysistrata-the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war-a strange spell seems to be cast over the school. Or, at least, over the women. One by one throughout the high school community, perfectly healthy, normal women and teenage girls turn away from their husbands and boyfriends in the bedroom, for reasons they don't really understand. As the women worry over their loss of passion, and the men become by turns unhappy, offended, and above all, confused, both sides are forced to look at their shared history, and at their sexual selves in a new light.
    As she did to such acclaim with the New York Times bestseller The Ten-Year Nap, Wolitzer tackles an issue that has deep ramifications for women's lives, in a way that makes it funny, riveting, and totally fresh-allowing us to see our own lives through her insightful lens.

    Read an essay about writing The Uncoupling from the author, Meg Wolitzer.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 10, 2011
    The latest from Wolitzer (The Ten Year Nap) is a plodding story with a killer hook: will the women of Stellar Plains, N.J., ever have sex again? After new high school drama teacher Fran Heller begins rehearsals for Lysistrata (in which the women of Greece refuse to have sex until the men end the Peloponnesian War), every girl and woman in the community is overcome by a "spell" that causes them to lose all desire for sex. No one is immune, not Dory Lang and her husband, Robby, the most popular English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School; not Leanne Bannerjee, the beautiful school psychologist; or the overweight college counselor Bev Cutler, shackled to a callous hedge-fund manager husband. The Langs' teenaged daughter, Willa, who eventually lands the lead in the play, is also afflicted, wreaking havoc on her relationship with Fran's son, Eli. Despite the great premise and Wolitzer's confident prose, the story never really picks up any momentum, and the questions posed—about parenthood, sacrifice, expectations, and the viability of long-term relationships in the age of Twitter—are intriguing but lack wallop.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2011

    Not previously known for whimsy, Wolitzer (The Ten-Year Nap, 2008, etc.) uses a magical premise to launch her sharp-eyed assessment of sexual desire in its permutations across generations and genders.

    A high-school production of Lysistrata casts a "spell" that causes every woman in the town of Stellar Plains, N.J., to lose interest in sex. That includes teenaged Willa Lang, who has barely had time to enjoy her first real romance, as well as her mother Dory, whose sudden indifference after years of enthusiastic marital intimacies pains and puzzles husband Robby. Dory and Robby are English teachers at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, where new drama teacher Fran Heller is rehearsing Aristophanes' centuries-old comedy about women withholding sex to stop war—which inspires the play's star, Marissa Clayborn, to stage her own "sex strike" to call attention to the conflict in Afghanistan. The spell isn't the best fit for a writer of Wolitzer's comic gifts, and at first it seems like a long way to go to get to the novel's best scene, in which five female teachers ruefully remember the thrill of youthful physical love and its slow devolution into routine or obligation. The wincing recognition prompted by their comments is matched by the author's compassionate portraits of mostly decent, loving men unnerved by a sea change they can't comprehend or cope with. Hardest hit is Fran's son Eli, so distressed by Willa's rejection that he heads for his father's home in Michigan; Fran and husband Lowell decided long ago that the way to keep passion fresh was to live apart. The performance of Lysistrata, with Willa subbing for sex-striking Marissa, provokes a general healing that skirts perilously close to contrivance and sticky sentiment, but Wolitzer makes it work, thanks to sharp characterizations and acute observations on everything from the digital generation gap to the accommodations made in a long marriage.

    A risky strategy pays off for a smart author whose work both amuses and hits home.

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2010

    I love Aristophanes's Lysistrata--the women refuse to have sex with their men until the men cease waging war. In Wolitzer's fantasia, when the Stellar Plains High School decides to stage the play, female students and teachers alike are oddly influenced by the scenario and lose interest in "coupling" of any sort. Wolitzer did nicely with her latest, The Ten-Year Nap, a New York Times best seller, so look out for this one.

    Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 15, 2011
    Life begins to imitate art when Stellar Plains edgy new drama teacher decides to stage Lysistrata as the high schools annual production. Faculty, administrators, and students alike are literally enchanted by Aristophanes mordant antiwar comedy. Women and girls who are otherwise happily married or in a blossoming relationship suddenly decide to withhold their affections from their husbands, lovers, and boyfriends. The once passionate sex life of popular English teachers Robby and Dory Lang abruptly ends, as does the nascent relationship of their daughter Willa, who sharply breaks up with her first boyfriend. Most affected of all, however, is Marissa Clayborn, the charismatic young black girl cast in the plays lead, who decides to stage her own bed-in sex strike in protest of the war in Afghanistan. When Marissa fails to appear on opening night, all hell breaks loose as spurned men storm the stage demanding the resumption of normal relations. While zestfully exploring the nexus between complacency and desire, Wolitzers hip, glib, impish scenario shrewdly examines the intricate connections between war and sex and perceptively illuminates the power of timeless literature.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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