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Surrender, Dorothy

3.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  581 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
It's August in New York City, and 30-year-old Sara Swerdlow is headed to Long Island, where she and her best friends aim to while away their days dissecting each other's love lives, careers, and the rundown condition of the cottage they've faithfully rented since college. A graduate student in Japanese studies at Columbia University, Sara is beautiful, charming, and stubbo ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 2nd 1999 by Scribner Book Company
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(showing 1-30 of 1,132)
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May 29, 2008 Kristin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2008 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to rename this book: Who Cares? The book revolves around the untimely death of a woman whose charm is lost on me (not just charm, she is depicted as somewhat God like, let's ignore the fact that she had an affair with her best friend's husband, she is still angelic and beautiful and all things good) and whose friends and mother mourn her miserably in some ugly summer house. Yeeha. I like depressing but this wasn't even enjoyable - it was just boring. I didn't care that she died, I d ...more
This was a difficult book to read as a thirty-something, especially as a childless thirty-something who'd recently lost her mother.

I've always felt that "friends are the family we choose for ourselves" and have had close circles of friends. We all want to believe that we've made a significant enough impact on people's lives that it wouldn't be easy for them to move on. But loving them, we also don't want the loss to be hard on them.

Although I didn't find the characters all that likable, the sto
Jan 23, 2014 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I had read a couple of tepid reviews of this book, I didn’t expect to enjoy it very much. To my great surprise, I found it deeply moving, delicately written, psychologically perceptive, and wickedly witty in the way it characterizes the failings (both real and imagined) of the characters. It’s the story of a young woman who dies suddenly in an accident and how her mother and a group of friends who shared a summer home with her come to terms with their loss. “Surrender, Dorothy” rings ver ...more
This is an interesting story about a mother's and group of friends' reactions to a girl's sudden death. The character development is good, but the plot is weak. The entire time you are reading this book, you feel as if you're going to go somewhere, but you never do. It's almost as if you are experiencing a tension the entire time you are reading. Perhaps this is Wolitzer's goal. Her characters and story in this novel actually made me uncomfortable. One could say that this, in itself, is an art f ...more
Mar 28, 2016 Pascale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not the best of early Wolitzer. The story takes place in a slightly dingy house on Long Island in August. Lovely Sara has just died and for want of a better idea, her mother Natalie joins Sara's best friends in their holiday rental. Natalie is vaguely jealous of Adam, the shy gay playwright who was Sara's closest friend, but throws herself into mothering all the residents of the house, including Adam's boyfriend Shawn, an aspiring artist with a lot more ambition than talent. Natalie helps Maddy ...more
Jul 24, 2007 Roxanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Wolitzer is extremely easy to read. I started with The Wife, after toxicpickle gave it to me (I recommend it).

Sara, the much-loved central character, dies early in the novel, and the rest is spent mourning her. She is the tie that binds her friends together - the hub of the wheel; only after her death is each character released. It's a fascinating idea, that a person can be so compelling that people around her are pulled into her gravitational field.
Mar 23, 2009 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize that I had seen this movie until I read the part where either the mother or daughter would say, "Surrender, Dorothy," each time the other one picked up the phone. As soon as I read it, I remembered it from the movie, and how much I hated that goofy phrase. I looked up reviews on both the movie and the book and decided not to finish the book since they sound exactly the same and I didn't much care for the movie. It was just o.k.
Jennifer Seyfried
This is a more serious read than the others I've read by this author. I should have been tipped off by the blurb that lets you know it's about the death of the woman that is presented as the main character in the first chapter. If the sudden death is shocking to the reader, imagine how it is to the friends who are waiting for her back at the house or for her mother, who not surprisingly have a hard time coming to grips with what has happened. It really is an interesting look at different ways of ...more
Mar 20, 2010 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a mustard-colored house in the Hamptons, four friends gather every August. They are thirty-something these days, and sometimes, they can scarcely bear to revisit the dilapidated and somewhat trashy house. But sentiment and habit draw them back every year.

But this year will be a very different one for Peter, Maddy, Adam and Sara. In the first week of this, their summer retreat, Sara will die in a car accident.

It happens when Sara and Adam are returning from buying ice cream at the Fro-Z-Cone s
Jul 29, 2011 Dawn rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, death
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2013 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I took this off the shelf the other day I thought it might be chicklit and wondered what I was doing with it. But the back suggested another story, so I dug in.

It's about death. Death of a 30-year-old woman who was struggling to find her place in the world, who knew she had hardly begun. Sara Swerdlow was close to her mother and close to a few friends, and her death affected them all profoundly. Her closest friends, her mother, and a few young people who didn't really know her find themselv
Feb 17, 2014 Cherie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A- An interesting book; a woman who is very close to her daughter is destroyed when her daughter dies, but so are her friends. But whose pain is it? The mother almost "owns" the death, and doesn't want to share with the friends, but when she allows her daughter's friends into the grieving process, secretes are revealed and healing can eventually begin.
Judith Yeabsley
Aug 05, 2015 Judith Yeabsley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with no plot that was well written enough to keep one engaged. It revolves around a group of friends and the mother of a girl killed suddenly in an accident and the way they all deal with the emotions and fallout. Imperfect and diverse characters and although a depressing subject not really a depressing book.
Jun 06, 2014 Marion rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book because I enjoy Meg Wolitzer's writing. Having read The Interestings first, I saw the seeds of the later book all throughout this one. As a recommendation, I would say go straight to The Interestings. It is well... more interesting.
Sue Kozlowski
Jul 08, 2014 Sue Kozlowski rated it liked it
I was very surprised when I reviewed my books and saw that this is the 6th book I have read that was written by Meg Wolitzer. This story was okay - not bad but not page-turning either. My favorite book by this author is definitely 'The Wife'.
Djuna Wojton
Apr 03, 2014 Djuna Wojton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this book accidentally. When I watched the movie version of it, I knew I had to read the book. Afterwards I read everything Meg Wolitzer has published. Her work is so witty, intelligent, and funny, she was a delightful discovery.
Jessica Nemczuk
This book was just ok. It was fairly interesting, but it was not a page-turner. Not much happened throughout the book, at least in terms of action. Characters did develop, but I was looking for a book with a little more.
May 07, 2014 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sorry, Not worth my time

Sorry, Not worth my time

dull, unappealing topic and characters. read for book club is the only reason I finished it. I didn't relate to any of the characters

Dec 23, 2014 Lola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Yet another ponderous adult novel. I'm starting to believe that the art of writing adult novels is dead. I've yet to read a truly good one from the last two decades. Same cliche "What am I going to do with my life? Where am I going?" questions asked.

The only thing that earned this book a second star was that fact that I saw a lot of my mom and me in Sara and her mother. My mom is my best friend, and in a way I am her best friend. If I died, my mom would be completely shattered. If she died, I
Dec 07, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of really terrible books immediately before reading this, so I'm not entirely sure if this is really a four star book or if it's just a reaction to the shit that came before.
Kim Hooper
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. It reminded me of a play, with most of the action taking place in one location and most of the story based on conversations between the characters. Grief is a funny thing and I'm always morbidly interested in reading stories that deal with it head-on. This is a light read for a heavy subject. In the end, I thought the characters were pretty well-developed and I was interested enough in seeing in through. I like Wolitzer's other books better t ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of on a Meg Wolitzer her writing. The stories themselves don't move all that fast, but the observational prose -- it's really, really good.
Jul 26, 2008 Yulia marked it as left-unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-lit
On reading the first line, I knew this book wasn't for me, but it'd get too complicated explaining why. I'd come off suggesting everyone was hiding his or her latent homosexual inclinations, but where would that get me? And it's not fair to judge a book whose premise I don't accept. So no, this isn't a review, but an explanation of why I can't read or review this book: because in the end it's all too transparent to me how my understanding of the world differs from Wolitzer's simple face-value co ...more
Nov 05, 2010 Brittany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure I would read it again. An interesting read, but not something on my "have to recommend" list.

I didn't like how Maddy just seemed to forgive Peter for his cheating, both with Sara and Natalie. I can understand if Wolitzer had followed their stories into the fall and there she forgave Peter, but within days, it just doesn't seem enough for me.

I did like that she kept the story limited to the summer house and didn't follow their stories because it was a turning point for them and their li
Jul 30, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite Wolitzer book but I enjoyed it. Interesting perspective on the mother.
Apr 18, 2015 Jenan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read, as are all Wolitzer titles
May 21, 2014 Susan marked it as to-read
Shelves: bh-library-book
PS3573.O564 S87 1999
Dschinn Golem
liked it too
did not lile this book. Once the main character died the plot did too.
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Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife . Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
More about Meg Wolitzer...

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“Why, Maddy asked herself lately, had she ever decided to have a baby? She wasn't ready for this, and neither was Peter. Very recently, it seemed, they had been staying up late and having lots of sex, and eating in a variety of cheap restaurants and going to many movies, and once even going to a tiny jewelry store on Avenue A on a Saturday night to have Maddy's nose pierced. Then, on a whim almost as casual as the nose-piercing decision, they had decided to stop using birth-control. She had taken her circular packet of pills one night, put them in an ash-tray, and ceremonially burned them, although the plastic had only curled and smoked and stank up the apartment, leaving the pills themselves intact behind their transparent bubble windows.” 0 likes
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