The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
I really enjoyed this book! It was a fun read – I just genuinely enjoyed this book. I’d recommend it. It didn’t blow by socks off like Circe by Madeline Miller, and I don’t think it’ll stick with me as much as Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld has.
A couple of things I really enjoyed about this book:
- It features a number of different narrators. The book revolves around the protagonist, Greer, who idolizes the second wave feminist (think Gloria Steinem), Faith Frank. I’m not a supperr huge fan of switching narrators especially when I feel it gets in the way of the plot progressing, but Wolitzer is masterful in (mostly) further through narration changes rather than in spite of narration changes.
- The story jumps around in time. I love to see how certain situations unfold in the book with the additional knowledge of how the past has shaped the events of the present. For example, it is revealed that one of Faith’s dear friends had an illegal abortion that nearly killed her. This near death experience of her best friend serves as the impetus for Faith’s transformation into the feminist firebrand she is presented as in the book.
- There is some serious characterization happening! For Faith especially, her story often jumps back in time to present her as a more whole and well rounded character. Wolitzer’s characterization of Faith is just phenomenal. It reminds me a lot of the characterization of Marilyn in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You in that both authors rely heavily on flashbacks to the past to develop the characters.
- An imperfect protagonist. Greer at times is deeply unlikeable, but her insights are interesting and her flaws show her humanity. Although she often got on my nerves, I still felt myself rooting for her to succeed.
- Third person narration – when describing the setting, the author often used third person narration. This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Here are some gems:
Faith, who approved of Greer. The approval was as soft as velvet, and the desire for that approval was, also like velvet, a little vulgar.
Having power meant that the world was like a pasture with the gate left open, and that there was nothing stopping you, and you could run and run.
The audience was well-dressed; it was a sea of soft pastel and the occasional basic black, because even though this was California, New York roots ran deep.
Everyone here knew that shriek, which signaled the happiness of women spending time together.
Her résumé was peppered with acronyms, the names of NGOs with which she’d consulted. All those capital letters, when looked at on one sheet of paper, had the effect of a firewall, or a code that could only be broken by someone much smarter than you.
This book didn’t feel like pure fluff like summer beach reads such as those by Madeline Wickham/Sophie Kinsela. This book falls neatly into the middle: a book that feels “literary” in that it has something to say but also is approachable. I liked that. Ultimately, I’d recommend this book to a friend – that’s all that really matters.