June 21

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

I chose this book in 10 seconds and read it in what felt like 10 minutes.  It was just that good.

It’s not what you may think by the title.  The Female Persuasion is a novel about the relationships of our main character Greer Kadinsky,  a disgruntled and shy student feeling lost at a sub-par college having missed out on taking her place at Yale because of a mistake her parents made.

Enter Faith Frank, the famous feminist and powerhouse of the women’s movement.   In a chance meeting at a college lecture, Faith Frank alters the trajectory of Greer’s life and in turn she (without knowing) disrupts and challenges all of Greer’s relationships – for better and for worse.

And yes, of course, there is a really strong feminist story woven through the whole thing.  Feminism in all its guises, where it sat in different parts of history and hints at where it may be heading.  It is an inspirational telling of one of the most important movements in our lifetime (I believe) but it is written not as a guide so please don’t panic, rather simply as a story where feminism itself is a character – ever-changing, gritty, raw, expansive – sometimes gentle, sometimes raging.

But beyond this, The Female Persuasion is simply a hell of a good story.  One of the reasons I liked this book so much is I think somewhere inside us all, is a little bit of Greer.   We follow her through college, her first job and the dramatic impact it has on her life,  her successes and failures.  In one way or another we have walked in her shoes and so you ride along with her knowing.

More importantly though is I’d like to think, or hope, we all have a Faith Frank in our lives – whether because of feminism, activism, our career or simply they are just in our orbit – but it is that someone who you think to yourself ‘ what would (insert name) do?’  Mine, for those of you interested was Jan Balodis and the character of Faith Frank, in my mind, had Jan’s beautiful face and powerful voice.

So I salute all of our Faith Franks for fanning the spark we all believe is flickering inside is, wanting to be seen.

In reading The Female Persuasion you’re confronted with  the consequences of power and ambition and loyalty and you meet the people who both suffer those consequences and rise above them.  Each character is so wonderfully portrayed  – I loved them all and you will fly along, page after page following the building and breaking of friendships, the hell of a long distance relationship, hapless parents, enormous loss and the price we sometimes pay for love.

So in tooting my own power in female persuasion, can I  please persuade you to read this one?

And that is just my two cents worth.