No time to read? Check out this weeks review of ‘The Summer Without Men’ by Siri Hustvedt

hustvedt_main_1861384fI was excited to read this book. I thought it would be a tribute to the strength of women and how our leading lady would rediscover herself and her love of life – all of which was outlined in the blurb on the back. But it was actually a bit of a let down to me. I think it was more so the style of writing then the story itself. There were a lot of references to poets and a number of quoted poems throughout the story. I like a bit of poetry here and there but it didn’t feel to me that this poetry added anything to the story and by about 2 thirds of the way through I found myself skimming over the poems.

The story follows 55 year old Mia who has just suffered a brief but spectacular breakdown in a psychiatric unit, due to her husband of 30 years announcing he wanted to take a pause in their relationship. As if to say we’ll just pause this in case I decide I actually do want to spend the rest of my life with you and not with the other women I have been sleeping with.

After her week in the psych ward she is fully recovered and decides to travel to the Minnesota town of her childhood for a summer of recuperation. She plans to spend time with her elderly mother, teach poetry to a group of pubescent girls.

She has a good summer meeting the women that live in the same retirement village as her mother, and spending time shaping the young minds of the girls she teaches poetry to. She learns about the different lives other women are leading and I enjoyed learning about them and what their stories were.

I felt that Mia was drifting through the summer without really deciding what she wanted to do about her husband. She thought about him constantly but it was like she was waiting for him to make a decision rather then making up her own mind.

The only reason I kept reading was that I wanted to know if she got back with him – In the end *spoiler* – she is in touch with him by email. He tells her he isn’t seeing the other women (when Mia pushed for information we find out that the other women ended it) and that he wants her back. Maybe I missed the part in the story where taking him back was what she wanted, but she tells him to woo her again and we end with him visiting her summer house. All in all it was an ok read, short enough that I did finish it. I wont be reading it again. Harsh? Maybe. I’ll just admit I didn’t “get” this one.

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About Kathryn

Hello and welcome to the Brick Road Creative Studios blog! My name is Kathryn, feel free to take a look around. I hope you find some helpful and inspiring bits and pieces here.
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