Thursday 23 July 2020

Hustvedt, Siri "The Summer without Men"

Hustvedt, Siri "The Summer without Men" - 2011

I don't know when and why I bought this book; I just know that I had a list with books with "summer in the title" and this one came up. Since I hadn't read it, and summer was on the doorstep, I decided this needed to be one of my next reads.

It didn't exactly bring any to storms of enthusiasm from my side. I wouldn't exactly call it a difficult read, just a jumbled up one. At times, she reminded me of Sylvia Plath or Virginia Wolf, and not in a good way. It was philosophical but you often couldn't follow her train of thoughts, she drifted off.

The story is easy enough, Mia is left by her husband, at least for the time-being, and she falls into a deep hole, has to go to a mental hospital for a while and then goes to see her mother for the summer. All her mother's friends seem to have problems, as well. She teaches young girls in literature in a summer course, there are problems, too, of course. Oh, oh, and then there's the neighbour who has problems with her husband. Is there any problem a woman could have that doesn't get dragged into this book? The biggest trouble is, I couldn't really feel it, the characters were not real. It just seemed like one problem written down after another without given it too much depth.

And then there was too much poetry in this novel for my liking.

I know Siri Hustvedt is a renowned author. Maybe this is one of her weaker novels. Or - she's just not my thing. I still have "The Sorrows of an American" on my TBR pile, don't know whether I'll tackle that any time soon.

I did like the cover of the book, though.

From the back cover:

"Out of the blue, your husband of thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge his infatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you: a) assume it's a passing affair and play along b) angrily declare the marriage over c) crack up d) retreat to a safe haven and regroup? Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for the summer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, and bemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawn into the lives of those around her: her mother and her circle of feisty widows; her young neighbour, with two small children and a loud, angry husband; and the diabolical pubescent girls in her poetry class. By the end of the summer without men, wiser though definitely not sadder, Mia knows what she wants to fight for and on whose terms. Provocative, mordant, and fiercely intelligent, The Summer Without Men is a gloriously vivacious tragi-comedy about women and girls, love and marriage, and the age-old war between the sexes - a novel for our times by one of the most acclaimed American writers."

There is a lot of talks about books in this novel but only one is mentioned: "Persuasion" by Jane Austen which is read by the protaganist's mother and her book club "The Rolling Meadows".


  1. I have only read one book by her, What I Loved, and I was not overjoyed with it. Have not tried anything else, and having read your review, I think I leave her.

    1. Oh dear, I don't want to keep anyone from reading something they might enjoy but since you had a similar feeling to her other book ... Anyway, I still have "The Sorrows of an American" on my TBR pile and will read it one day. Should I love it, I'll definitely let you know. ;)

  2. I am a big fan of Siri Hustvedt. She is a philosopher, among her other pursuits, so she does get pretty cerebral at times. I found The Summer Without Men quite good, myself.

    1. I will definitely go and read your post because we usually have a similar taste. Maybe this time we don't. Or "The Summer Without Men" isn't my thing. We'll see once I've read "The Sorrows of an American".
      Have a good day.

  3. I've never read Hustvedt - yet another writer who I probably need to get to know. I enjoyed your review, even if you were not particularly impressed with the book. I think sometimes we are just not in the right mood for the book that we're reading. That has happened to me numerous times when I pick up a book that other people have raved about and I find it wanting.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I am happy to find your blog.

    1. I was happy finding yours. One of the reasons I like to go to those blogs where they list stuff and one can see other people who have similar interests. Like you.

      As I mentioned above, I have another book of her's on my TBR pile, "The Sorrows of an American", so I'll give her another try one day. My blogger friend Judy ^^ absolutely loves her and we often have the same taste, so maybe I'll try her one day.

      Thanks for your visit. Glad to have met you.