The Summer Without Men By Siri Hustvedt

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1444710524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444710526
Synopsis from Waterstones:  
Out of the blue, your husbandof thirty years asks you for a pause in your marriage to indulge hisinfatuation with a young Frenchwoman. Do you: a) assume it’s a passing affairand play along b) angrily declare the marriage over c) crack up d) retreat to asafe haven and regroup? Mia Fredricksen cracks up first, then decamps for thesummer to the prairie town of her childhood, where she rages, fumes, andbemoans her sorry fate as abandoned spouse. But little by little, she is drawninto the lives of those around her: her mother and her circle of feisty widows;her young neighbour, with two small children and a loud, angry husband; and thediabolical pubescent girls in her poetry class. By the end of the summerwithout men, wiser though definitely not sadder, Mia knows what she wants tofight for and on whose terms. Provocative, mordant, and fiercely intelligent,The Summer Without Men is a gloriously vivacious tragi-comedy about women andgirls, love and marriage, and the age-old war between the sexes – a novel forour times by one of the most acclaimed American writers.


Written in the first person and at times addressing thereader directly, ‘The Summer Without Men’ introduces us to Mia whose husbandBoris is taking a pause in their marriage to have a fling with aco-scientist after 30 years of marriage and no warning that he had been feelingunfulfilled.

We’re introduced to the effect it has on Mia who has a briefstay in hospital and then takes time out to recover in the comfort of her hometown getting to know her mother’s aged friend Abigail while teaching poetry to a classof young girls.

Through the story, Mia reflects on her relationship withBoris and their life, which includes the intimacy between a male and female (althoughnot explicit).  Mia remembers the roleher own mother played during her childhood and makes comparisons to how she isnow.  Her neighbour Lola becomes a part ofher life and she becomes involved in resolving a crises of one of the girls inher poetry class. Predominantly surrounded by females, she corresponds viaemail with Nobody who is possibly a male inmate she met during her hospitalstay.

This is a story of introspection and remembrance mixed withthe thread of Mia and how she recovers from her traumatic experience.  Having spent so many years with Boris andidentifying herself through that relationship she takes back the part ofherself that is ‘I am’. 

My enjoyment from reading comes from the author engaging myemotions, absorbing me in the story and taking me away from my every day lifeinto another world when anything is possible and sometimes introduces me tosomething new or even nudges me into pondering. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy this novel because Ifelt none of these things.  It didn’thold my attention as it meandered along and didn’t engage my emotions even though I love philosophyand psychology.  I also love poetry of all descriptions.  Maybe it was because it was quite a short novel and there wasn’t enough time to get to know any of the characters in depth.

I am giving ‘The Summer Without Men’ the following rating:

This is my opinion and you should read other readersreviews, taking into account what they say, before making your choice.  For example The Telegraph has this review byPhilip Womack. 

I would like to thank Waterstones for providing me with acopy to review.

About the Author
Siri Hustvedt is the author of four novels, The Blindfold,The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I loved and The ShakingWoman or A History of My Nerves. She has also published a poetry collection, Reading to You, andthree collections of essays, Yonder, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essayson Painting and A Plea for Eros. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now lives in Brooklyn with herhusband, Paul Auster.


2 thoughts on “The Summer Without Men By Siri Hustvedt

  1. Nice to see someone being honest when a book just isn't for them, but also acknowledging that others will no doubt rave about it, because being drawn in by a story is a very personal thing. We are all different! Just wanted to add – when I look at the lefthand side I can see a figure next to the chair. Just wondered if you had ever noticed it?

  2. Thank you for Linn. Reading IS a very personal thing. We all read for different reasons and to fulfill different needs.

    Haven't noticed a figure and can't see it now – perhaps you are seeing my guardian angel 🙂

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