BOOK REVIEW: THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN, BY SIRI HUSTVEDT, PICADOR PAPERBACK, NEW YORK, NY 2011
“I need a pause,” announces Mia’s husband of 30 years, then leaves. The writer lets the reader look over Mia’s shoulder. She reacts in a briefly catastrophic way, then takes a summer to think and heal. Her mother lives in a retirement home, where Mia visits and grows closer to a quirky set of old women. At the same time, Mia interacts with twelve-year-old girls taking her creative writing class. Both groups revive memories, themes of identity, thoughtful exploration of what it has meant to Mia to be a woman.
Hustvedt’s writing by turns evokes laughter, sadness, perspective, ironic recognition, and haunting love. She can certainly turn a phrase! At 182 pages, this is a quick read that I look forward to savoring again.