The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I very much enjoyed reading this book. The author Siri Hustvedt has a remarkably gift for storytelling and for writing. Her characters really come alive.
"The Summer Without Men" is the story about what Mia Fredrickson goes through when her husband of thirty years decides, seemingly out of the blue, that he wants to "pause" their marriage. The story follows Mia through a mental breakdown that temporarily lands her in a mental hospital, after which she returns to her childhood home in Minnesota for the summer. There she regularly visits with her mother, and is hired to teach poetry to a group of prepubescent girls. In the midst of struggling with her own issues, Mia begins communication with an unknown person calling himself Mr. Nobody. She becomes immersed in the drama of her students, as well as in life inside the "home" where her mother and the group of ladies dubbed "the swans" reside. She befriends Abigail, an old woman who introduces her to the secret amusements (scenes embroidered and hidden within other things). Mia also finds herself friends with her young neighbor and her two children.
Overall, "The Summer Without Men" seems to tackle many issues in a comical manner which include but are not limited to: marital issues, growing older, childhood issues (such as bullying and imaginary friends), and the pain of loss.