Title: The Uncoupling
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
When the new drama teacher at a high school in Stellar Plains, NJ chooses Lysistrata as the annual play, people are concerned. After all, is a production about women withholding sex in order to protest a war really appropriate for high schoolers? But when the women of Stellar Plains begin to lose any drive they once had to sleep with their husbands, life begins to imitate art in the most interesting of ways.
The Uncoupling is a thought provoking novel about the connections between war and sex. In Lysistrata, men go to die in an unending war for nothing. There is no purpose to it anymore, but they fight because to do otherwise would take away some of their power. There is power for men in war. So the woman protest in the best way they can - they refuse to have sex with their husbands until the war is over. That is where their power lies. It’s an interesting discussion, and one that Wolitzer really delves into in her novel.
However, The Uncoupling didn’t work for me as well as I’d hoped. While I thoroughly appreciated and reveled in the philosophical discussions, the story was lacking for me. I didn’t connect with any of the characters - there are many packed into this short book, and I felt like the story was constantly jumping from one to another in order to flesh out the larger themes. Even then, though, I felt like the book was barely scratching the surface. There are so many storylines, so many themes, that Wolitzer could have explored in this novel, yet I feel like there was very little depth to it. It was all on the surface.
The plot of The Uncoupling also didn’t thrill me. While I loved the premise and was excited to see what Wolitzer would do with it, the novel never came together. I kept waiting for the plot to develop, waiting for some sort of forward movement, and then all of a sudden the book was over. The ending was surprising and enjoyable, but it didn’t make up for the serious lack of forward momentum in the rest of the novel.
I really wanted to love The Uncoupling, but it just fell short for me. I adored the commentary on how old literature is still relevant, but overall lack of development kept me from really enjoying it. I will say that almost everyone I know who has read this book has absolutely loved it, so I’d definitely check out some other reviews if you’re still interested in this novel.