by Anna Quindlen
It’s so hard to tell them the truth, that there is no formula, no plan. It’s harder still to communicate that your life has been filled with accidents and that they have determined so much of how things turned out. Some have been happy accidents, some not. There were plans for a family but the right partner didn’t come along, or came along too late. There were plans for a big family but after the first child there was no other, or plans for an only child that were changed by an accidental pregnancy. My early plans to have no children at all morphed into plans to have four, and we wound up with three. And now that seems exactly right, even fated somehow. It’s amazing how resilient people are, and how the things that didn’t come true become, after a while, simply the way things are.
THE BLURB: “[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about
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.”
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”
Parenting: “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.”
Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.
MY THOUGHTS: I liked Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen, but I didn’t love it. I think I was expecting something quite different from what I actually got. This is not so much a memoir, as a philosophical essay on aging.
I was expecting more of Anna’s life. She does make reference to incidents in her life from time to time to illustrate a point she is making, but that is all. And while I may feel slightly disappointed, Quindlen makes a lot of valid points about aging, about how we are aging differently to how our parents aged and to how our children will age. She talks about the opportunities and choices we had that our parents never had, and how many more of these our children have.
I think that this is a book that I will pick up again in the future and reread. While I didn’t find it funny, there is a great deal of wisdom contained within. And next time I read this, I will be ready for it.
All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2168092255