Book Review: The Uncoupling

The Uncoupling

Meg Wolitzer


288 pages

Dory and Robby have it all.  They have been married for years and have a teenage daughter, but they are still very much in love and their sexual attraction hasn’t waned.  They both teach at the local high school, where they are highly respected and loved among the kids.  Their daughter, Willa, is more introverted but she has recently started seeing her first boyfriend, Eli, who is the son of the new drama teacher.

Mrs Heller, the new drama teacher, decides to put on a production of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata.  The basic premise is that Lysistrata forbids the women of her village from having sex with the men until the war they have been fighting in ceases.  Once the play rolls into action though, something strange happens–the women involved stop wanting to have sex with their significant others.

We first learn about Dory, who all of a sudden cannot imagine having sex with Robby anymore.  Robby is hurt and confused at first, but as days lead into weeks with no sex to be had, he gets more and more angry.  And while Dory laments the disintegration of a marriage that was very recently close to perfect, she can’t help how she feels.  Little does she know that all the women in town are having the same problem as she.

The Uncoupling gave me so much to think about.  Every paragraph gave me something new to digest and carry with me.  The scariest aspect for me was the idea of just losing that desire with the person you love.  Knowing that the cause was a spell did not abate my frustration at the lack of concern the women showed once they lost their desire.  They didn’t seem to care that their relationships were in tatters, which I couldn’t understand at all.  You certainly didn’t see any of them having sex just to appease their partners, even if they didn’t want to!

Another minor quibble I had with the book was that a high school would allow a play that so blatantly involved sex to be performed.  I know it sounds a bit ridiculous–I mean, the  book involves a spell being cast over the women of the community, which is obviously even more unbelievable, but what can I say . . . ?

Lest you think I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book though, let me be very clear–I thought The Uncoupling was very well written and the themes involved gave me more to think about than any book I have read in a long time.  This book is definitely worthy of the praise.

Other Reviews:

Devourer of Books

Linus’s Blanket


She is too Fond of Books . . .

Lit and Life

Bibliophile by the Sea

Shelf Love

Book Chatter

Fizzy Thoughts

I purchased this book from a book sale.

12 Responses

  1. I’ve been curious about this novel — really eager to read it (someday, someday)!

  2. I think I would have the very same questions/criticisms that you did! Great review, thanks!

  3. An awesome blogger sent this to me, and I haven’t had the chance to pick it up yet. I’m looking forward to it though!

  4. After seeing so many reviews on this one I’ve become so curious. It seems to really provide a lot of food for thought and everyone has a different take on it. Definitely like one that gives you a lot to think about!

  5. The book does sound really good, but I do think you’d be hard pressed to find a high school that would perform that play. I can suspend disbelief though.

  6. Yay! I remember reading some reviews that were okay but also were more critical. I have a copy of this and am looking forward to reading it. I know what you mean about that one gripe though… that might bother me a little too lol

  7. Thanks for linking to my review. I really did enjoy The Uncoupling (which, like you, kept me thinking about it for days!); I didn’t care for Wolitzer’s The 10-Year Nap, so I’m glad I gave her writing another shot.

    our local high school performed The Falsettos last year, to much public discussion (the lead is a man who leaves his family to live with another man). I think if they discuss literature with these themes, they might put on a play like that (and I’m sure curriculum varies greatly from place to place!)

  8. I wasn’t thrilled about this one either.

  9. I liked the idea of this one, but it just didn’t work for me. I’m with you; I didn’t mind the idea that a spell might make the women no longer have an interest in their partners but not to be concerned about it struck me as implausible. And I’ve got a daughter in high school–no way that play gets performed in a public high school. I think I would have enjoyed this one more if the idea that teenaged girls might picket the young men going to war might have been played out more.

  10. This one arrived at my house a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very much looking forward to it. Even moreso now that I’ve read your review!

  11. I have an old ARC of this one that a friend gave me and while I Know that this book hasn’t been touted as an all-out success, it really does sound like fun so I am looking forward to reading it at some point. It certainly sounds like something to pick up when I’m in the mood for a lighter read.

  12. Meg Wolitzer is an author I definitely want to read – I have Ten Year Nap on my shelf so may read that one first. Good to hear this one is good!

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