Monday, 22 July 2019

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

"Greer wanted to ask Ben what he thought this was about, but then her instinct was that she shouldn't".

I am a recent convert to the church of Wolitzer. Her writing just ticks all the boxes for me. I devour it greedily. Her speech at this year's Sydney Writer's festival was so amazing and I she appeared on Younger  the other week to further cement my fandom.

Weirdly, or perhaps not so much upon reflection, I found the beginning of the novel a little triggering. I don't think its any surprise that most women have had a similar (or worse) episode than that which Greer encounters with an over over-entitled college d-bag acts inappropriately. I love how Greer and her friend Zee try to combat this with tee shirts and addressing the feminist icon of the novel, Faith Frank.

What are so well realised here are the fraught relations between women. The way we can be absolutely best friends and yet reticent to work together in order to ensure the competitiveness that we both value doesn't erode our relationships. Even the Germaine Greer-esque Frank (only in terms of fame, they are described as contemporaries) isn't put forward as a perfect bastion of female empowerment; much of the drama extends from the discovery of her back story - oops spoilers.

I get the impression that every reader's take away from this novel draws on the thing that is most present in their thoughts. Is it the growing divide between the girl moving to college and her boyfriend as they grow apart? Is it the realisation that the world isn't one where everything is possible? Is it a little of all those things? We are all imperfect humans and I think that is something that Wolitzer beautifully encapsulates. I could definitely re-read this and get an entirely new take on it - that is the magic of her writing.

5 out of 5 prose before hoes - just kidding.

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