Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake; Anna Quindlen



Author:  Anna Quindlen
Publication Year: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Edition:eGalley
Source: Publisher/Edelweiss
Date Completed: 3/30/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, is a wonderful memoir about the author, Anna Quindlen's life.  Written as a series of short essays, it's just over 180 pages, but full of so much wisdom which comes from life experience. 

The author reflects on her childhood, young adulthood, the middle years as a working parent of three, and her life now, as she approached her 60th birthday.  Quindlen, claims to still feel like 40," even though the body might have shifted a bit."   She covers such topics as marriage, advice for young people about the the things that really matter the most in life, raising children, careers, aging parents, being raised Catholic, and faith in general.  Her observations about the lives of women in the 50-60 year-old age group, are dead-on-accurate.

Being born in the same year as Quindlen, so much of what she had to say about her life resonated with me as well. For example, 
  • "We were the first generation of women who are intimately involved in the lives of our children and in the lives of our parents while trying to hold down jobs outside the home at the same time. Someone even came up with a name for this: the sandwich generation...."
  • "When I was young I was loath to admit that I liked being alone, but not anymore.  By the time you've lived for fifty or sixty years, you are better armored to embrace the things about yourself that are true, even if the you think the world sees them as odd, eccentric....."
  • "What a time we've live through so revolutionary that the list could go on and on: the Pill, the heart transplant, the moon landings, cell phones, cable television, computer communication,.....and  as Quindlen's father said..."I'm glad I lived long enough to see the Phillies win a World Series and a black man elected President."  [ for me, it's seeing the Boston Red Sox win 2 World Series]
  • "I am a liberal because......as I said often, much to the consternation of friends of other faiths who have come to see Catholicism as narrow, conservative, and antediluvian, I am a liberal because I was raised Catholic.  In a typically thoughtful and searching speech he gave at Notre Dame, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, the most intellectual of non-clerical Catholics referred to practicing the work of Christ in our life, 'I practice it especially where the love is most needed, among the poor and weak and the dispossessed.' That's the lesson I took away from the New Testament, the requirement that if you had two cloaks you should give one to the person who had none that you love your neighbor as yourself. It's a lesson that never left me."
For such a short book, I spent an entire week reading, rereading and reflecting on what the author wrote.  Her story made me appreciate, so much more, being born in a decade that was followed by so many positive changes and choices, especially for women.
This book would make a perfect birthday or Mother's Day gift for the "baby boomer" woman in your life.  In my opinion, this is the targeted age group that will enjoy this book the most. 
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - LOVED IT!

27 comments:

  1. This is definitely going on my list! your highly recommended is good enough for me.

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  2. I'm not quite the target age group, but from the quotes you shared, I think I could still find plenty to like. It's going on my wish list for sure. :)

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  3. Megan, this is something for all women, all ages to take from this memoir, but baby boomers will best relate IMO.

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  4. I just got this and can't wait to read it. I'm glad my dad lived long enough to see the Phillies win a World Series.

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  5. This one's on my list. So glad you enjoyed! She is so, so "quotable"

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  6. Twat is a wonderful recommendation!

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  7. You enthusiasm is infectious!! I MUST read this. I see that Quindlen will narrate the audio version... wonder if I should go that route?

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  8. This does sound like a wonderful book, and it is filled with really potent bits of wisdom that I think a lot of women would relate to. Great review today! I need to check this one out; for myself, and a few other women who I know would appreciate it!

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  9. As you know, I loved this book too. I think it's one I'll reread parts of even though I just never do that. I'm older and don't have children, but I could relate to her life as well. Glad you're spreading the word.

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  10. This book does sound interesting. Her fiction has been hit or miss for me, but I've never explored her nonfiction.

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  11. I am not a huge fan of her work, but what you shared here is definitely my thing. I find myself wanting to be alone more often, but I am reading Emily Alone right now and it worries me that when I get what I want, I won't want it anymore.

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  12. I have never read any of her books but my interest is peaked now. By the way, since I discovered your blog, I have turned into a reading machine, the way I was as a child. I want to thank you again for that :)

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  13. I love memoirs and this one sounds incredibly poignant. Thank you for turning me onto it!

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  14. Wow … you found yourself a kindred spirit in this author!!

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  15. I've just discovered your lovely blog and I'm now following ~ so nice to meet you!
    Best,
    Anne ♥♥

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  16. Oh wow, I am excited about this one - I have read and enjoyed a few of her books. How did I not know about this one. Mmmm.... I can smell cake....

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  17. Now I'm sorry I passed on a review copy of this one. From your review it sounds so much better than the blurb I read.

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  18. I love Quindlen's writing and always have. I had wondered about her memoir - if it was worth reading. I'm glad to see you loved it so much. I think I'll have to pick it up.

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  19. I have read a couple by Quindlen and I really enjoyed them. From your recommendation, this one is definitely going on the list!

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  20. I REALLY LOVED this one, too, Diane....I felt as though Quindlen and I were having a cozy conversation. And so much of what she wrote resonated with me, too. I laughed out loud, sometimes cried a bit, and often chuckled.

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  21. I enjoy this author's work so this might be a really great read for me too. I love that you connected to this personally!

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  22. I've liked the things I've read by Quindlen very much. Seeing that you've given this one 5/5, I'm going to have to give this one a go as well.

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  23. I've never read any Quindlen, but I did just buy Imagined London. I figure it's hard to go wrong when it's London. :-D

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  24. I love the quote you posted about being alone. I like dong things alone - but it seems like most people in society think that everything must be done with someone else.

    Tanya
    Girlxoxo.com

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  25. I missed this post of yours during the week, Diane, but knowing that you write terrific reviews of fascinating books very often I try to remember to review your blog posts most weeks! I am immensely happy I remembered to review your posts for this week because I LOVE this review of Anna Quindlen's new memoir.

    I very much want to read this book! One of the things I have always loved about Anna Quindlen is she's never shied away from talking about the role of Catholicism in her life and being a liberal Catholic. I love that she's a liberal Catholic, a rather rare breed and, for some, almost an oxymoron!
    The other things you mentioned learning from reading her memoir piqued my interest in this book, too. I wanted to read this book before your review and now, after reading your fantastic review I am almost desperate to read this book! lolol
    Thank you :o)

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  26. So, if I get this for my mom for Mother's Day will it turn her into a liberal? At least a little bit?

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