Surrender, Dorothy
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Surrender, Dorothy

3.16 of 5 stars 3.16  ·  rating details  ·  369 ratings  ·  48 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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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...more
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
Maureen O'keefe
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

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.
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.
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
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...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
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.
Djuna Wojton
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.
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...more
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
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...more
I'm not sure why this one didn't do it for me -- nothing wrong with it structurally, and Wolitzer's writing is accessible. The premise is also strong. But for some reason I never engaged with the characters. They didn't feel like people I would choose to be friends with, which made it harder for me to empathize with them. And in a book about overcoming loss, that's a fatal blow. But I do think it's worth reading, and I'm sure I'm in the minority as far as this novel goes.
Wow. It's so great to find a writer by pure chance. I picked up The Position previous to this one because it was a second-hand copy (cheap!) and I was intrigued by the premise. This book continued to deliver Meg Wolitzer's affable and insightful voice. I didn't like it *quite* as much, the scope was narrower, dealing with a loved one's death, but I gobbled it down like candy and felt slightly remorseful after, simply because it was over.
Oct 11, 2008 Andrea rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrea by: the one the List recommended wasn't available at the library, so
Shelves: chick-lit
Ugh! The joyless sex was as depressing as the obsession with death. For such a supposedly wonderful woman, Sara seemed to me to be immature and narcissitic. And Adam was such a total cliche. I did manage to finish it pretty quickly, which is the only reason it got more than 1 star. I've heard that Wolitzer generally writes funny books, so maybe I'll keep looking for the 10 Year Nap at the library and give her another chance.
In this book a girl is killed while away on vacation with her friends (they've rented a house for the summer) and the girl's mother winds up coming to stay with them. The notion of who "owns" someone after they die, the family or the friends was interesting as way the way the friends struggled to related to each other without Sara (the girl who dies) as a buffer but there were things that bugged me too. Good, but not great.
Jean Kelly
I had my doubts about a book whose main character dies Chapter 1 but the story grabs you. The friends and mother spend time together at the summer house that the friends have shared for years and make some effort to work through their individual and collective grief. Sara, though dead, is central throughout, including the title - a line shared by her and her mother through their very close relationship.
Just started back to work full-time and needed a book for my hour commutes. This fit the bill. Enjoyed the story, despite the tragedy of it, and thought the characters were well developed, although a little self-centered. But surviving the first real death of a close friend takes its measure in many forms, and they are well illuminated in this story.
I got this because I loved Wolitzer's The Wife, but this one failed for me. The characters never seemed real and what the mother did after her daughter died was weird. BTW, the daughter dying in the first chapter (I think) was a wonderful stroke. I was totally engaged with her - more so than with the other characters.
This is the 2nd Meg Wolitzer book I have read and I am still really impressed. This book is the story of a young woman who dies suddenly leaving everyone close to her in shock. I always find her characters to be very real and their actions believable. Life is messy and mourning the loss of life even messier.
I blew through this book pretty quickly and enjoyed it. I'm not really sure what I enjoyed about it, but the prose wasn't bad, the story was engaging, and the characters were engrossing. It wasn't anything amazing, but it's a good read when you want to be entertained without being subjected to bad writing.
I'm on a Meg Wolitzer binge. After loving her latest -- "The Interestings" -- I'm reaching back to her earlier works. This novel's plot felt a bit forced, but her work is still consistently well crafted. She's a master at capturing everyday nuance, making each character vivid and real.
Not a bad book--not my favorite Wolitzer. I prefer The Position much better. I liked the interconnectedness of the story line, but felt that it got preachy towards the end, and tied things together a little too neatly.
Bah, it was ok. Good characters in Maddy and Peter but the rest of them were just selfish and one dimensional. The mother "mothers" the whole gang of 30 somethings and that is her healing process. Coulnt get behind it.
Compelling and a quick read, but the whole "Surrender, Dorothy" thing felt forced. Each time it came up, I wondered again what it offered to the story other than a title...
Patricia Caspers
Adam is my favorite character. I wanted to be his replacement Sarah. Other than that, I didn't really engage with the characters, and I think the story needs more of an arc.
I really liked this Wolitzer novel. It mostly explores what happens when our perceived immortality disappears and how people deal with the sudden loss of a young person.
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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...
The Interestings The Ten-Year Nap The Uncoupling The Wife The Position

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