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Review: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

February 26, 2013

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

In the 1980s, Anna Quindlen wrote a column called Life in the 30s about what it was like to be a woman in her 30s, raising children and working while balancing the rest of life.  Readers could relate to the topics she was writing about, so the column became quite popular.  Quindlen went on to write several novels and, recently, a memoir, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.  The format of her memoir is different than most – it’s like a series of essays or columns –  but it really struck a chord with me.  It’s reflective, thoughtful, and thought provoking.  I started marking passages at the beginning of the book but stopped pretty quickly because I found I was marking most of them.

Here’s what it comes down to, really: there is now so much stuff in my head, so many years, so many memories, that it’s taken the place of primacy away from the things in the bedrooms, on the porch.

In sharing stories of her childhood, her marriage, her career, and her own motherhood, Quindlen shows how much we all have in common.  Quindlen grew up at a time when women stayed home and took care of the house and children and she was a trailblazer of sorts when she became a reporter for the New York Post.  As she’s grown older, she’s learned to value the important things in life, like family, health, and girlfriends.

The older we get, the more we understand that the women who know and love us – and love us despite what they know about us – are the joists that hold up the house of our existence.  Everything depends on them.

At 182 pages, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a relatively short book, but I took my time reading it.  I loved it right from the beginning and wanted to savor every word because I felt as if Quindlen were writing just to me.  I found myself nodding my head quite often as I read this gem.  I want to thrust this book into the hands of women everywhere even though I’m sure it will resonate more with older readers.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.
37 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2013 4:30 am

    This sounds so very good. Very profound.

  2. February 26, 2013 5:43 am

    I’ve heard this is good and plan to listen to the audio. Glad to know it gets your seal of approval!

  3. February 26, 2013 6:21 am

    This does sound very good. I also just finished a book that I put so many stickies on to mark passages I could hardly see the pages anymore!

  4. February 26, 2013 6:48 am

    Ya had me until ‘memoir’….

  5. February 26, 2013 7:05 am

    Isn’t that funny Kathy, and I felt she was writing about me:) “women of a certain age”….in any event, I adored this book!

  6. sandynawrot permalink
    February 26, 2013 7:16 am

    I found this book to be absolutely precious. Nothing new or earth-shattering in here, but she has such a great way of summarizing what we ALL are going through, and making it seem NORMAL!!! I particularly loved the section on girlfriends. It made me feel warm in my heart.

  7. Beth F permalink
    February 26, 2013 8:46 am

    I love her essays. I’ve been a fan of hers since she started writing such essays in her Life in the Thirties column for the NY Times back in the late 70s and early 80s.

  8. talesofwhimsy permalink
    February 26, 2013 9:46 am

    Sounds excellent. I love the quotes you included.

  9. February 26, 2013 10:37 am

    I’ve also been a fan of hers forever, and I dearly loved this memoir. I hope Caite will at least try it despite its being a memoir. This is really a keeper. So many passages we can all relate to.

  10. Beth Hoffman permalink
    February 26, 2013 11:09 am

    I’ve enjoyed her novels (One True Thing was my favorite), and I suspect I’d enjoy this memoir too!

  11. Literary Feline permalink
    February 26, 2013 11:10 am

    I am glad you enjoyed this one, Kathy! I like memoirs written in this fashion.

  12. February 26, 2013 11:22 am

    I have read all of her novels. Some I have liked a lot, and some I have loved. I have not read her columns/musings anthologies.

  13. zibilee permalink
    February 26, 2013 11:50 am

    I so want to read this one, after reading Every Last One. I think she has a unique voice, and that she has a lot to say. I would be enthralled to read about her life as a wife, mother and friend. I am glad you loved this one!

  14. February 26, 2013 12:35 pm

    This book sounds extraordinary. Excellent review, Kathy!

  15. February 26, 2013 2:20 pm

    I have this book on my “to read” list. It’s good to know that you loved it, makes me want to read it asap!

  16. Patty permalink
    February 26, 2013 2:25 pm

    Lovely words, Kathy! I love everything she writes…

  17. February 26, 2013 2:32 pm

    Sounds lovely, and the title is great. Sometimes memoirs really strike a chord.

  18. February 26, 2013 2:33 pm

    She is a wonderful author. I especially loved the second quote. I can imagine the book is thought provoking.

  19. February 26, 2013 4:55 pm

    I loved this one, too, Kathy; and, like you, found myself wanting to highlight many passages. The thoughts definitely resonated with me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. February 26, 2013 5:39 pm

    Oh, I loved this one too. After I read it I gave it to our library and told the librarian that all the women should read it! It truly was a delight to read!

  21. February 26, 2013 8:22 pm

    This was fabulous, wasn’t it? Definitely one I will revisit as I get older.

  22. February 27, 2013 6:34 am

    I’m a huge fan of Quindlen’s (Every Last One is my favorite) and I have this on my stack for Dewey’s Read-a-Thon. Good to know you enjoyed it!

  23. February 27, 2013 10:29 am

    This sounds like an amazing read! I definitely need to pick this up. I love reading accumulated wisdom of women I respect. Wonderful review!

  24. February 27, 2013 10:35 am

    This sounds like one I’d enjoy.

  25. February 27, 2013 12:14 pm

    What you shared here is lovely. I am, not a fan of her novels, oddly but I’d read this in a heartbeat.

  26. February 27, 2013 12:48 pm

    This book sounds wonderful and I’m so glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. I used to read Quindlen’s column way back when. She’s always had a unique voice and an ability to understand and relate to women, She doesn’t seem afraid to be honest or to share what she’s experiencied in her life. I think this makes her words resonate with women everywhere.
    Your review made me realize that I want to read this book . Initially I was skeptical since my life is extremely different from Quindlen’s and many of the women she ‘speaks’ too. But I think many of her topics are universal and meant for all kinds of women.

    Thank you for your wonderful review, Kathy.

  27. February 27, 2013 2:39 pm

    I’ve only read a few of Anna Quindlen’s works, but have always enjoyed them. Will have to check this one out. It’s always a good sign when you have to stop marking passages because everything is being marked. Sort of reminds me of when I read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

  28. February 27, 2013 6:28 pm

    I haven’t read a Quindlen book but I know I should have read one by now. She is on my list of authors to read. Glad to hear that this memoir was worth it!

  29. February 27, 2013 7:09 pm

    Glad to hear another posititive review. I have this in audio and I’m pretty sure I’ll like it too. I used to read Quindlen’s columns which were syndicated in the Chicago Tribune… way back when.

  30. bookingmama permalink
    February 27, 2013 7:12 pm

    Can’t wait to read this one. I love her writing!

  31. February 28, 2013 11:51 am

    This book has been on my TBR pile for quite some time. I’ve bumped it to the top thanks to your awesome review 🙂

  32. February 28, 2013 4:57 pm

    This sounds like a beautiful collection of essays!

  33. February 28, 2013 8:48 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds good!.

  34. March 1, 2013 10:24 am

    I love Quindlen’s writing. This is one of here that I haven’t read yet but I did get it at Audible for five bucks a while back. I really need to make time to listen to it.

  35. March 1, 2013 9:59 pm

    I listened to this – it is great! I loved her musings, advice – all of it. It will definitely be a go-to gift for my friends with upcoming bdays!

  36. March 2, 2013 1:04 pm

    As I get older I now understand the value of a few close friends who know my secrets, keep them, and continue to love me anyway. This sounds like a great read!

  37. readerbuzz permalink
    March 12, 2013 9:06 am

    Wouldn’t Anna be a lovely person to have as a personal friend?!

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