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Everything She Thought She Wanted
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Everything She Thought She Wanted

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  716 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Elizabeth Buchan’s beloved bestsellers, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and The Good Wife Strikes Back, have made her an icon of upmarket women’s fiction. Taking her characteristic wit and emotional resonance to a new level, her latest novel focuses on two lives separated by forty years of history. In 1959, a forty-something married mother finds herself immersed in a surp ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published July 15th 2004)
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Apryl Rickert
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
I found the two stories to be interesting yet there just wasn't enough to help connect me to what was going on in either timeframe. I felt like the book ended and I wasn't satisfied. I will read the other book I purchased by this author and hope for a different outcome :|
Ann Baxter
It's on my shelf, I recogize the story - but it left no impression. That says a lot.
Laurel Osterkamp
Nov 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Is motherhood a blessing or a curse? Should it be considered a right or an obligation? And when it comes to the role of motherhood, has anything changed in the last 40 years, or are things still basically the same?
Elizabeth Buchnan seems to think that despite societal changes, women still must overcome the basically the same challenges they were faced with in the 1950s, and she illustrates this beautifully in her latest work, Everything She Thought She Wanted. The narrative is in first person, a
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really like either of the protagonists, so found it hard to care what happened to them. Barbara seemed silly and shallow; Siena was a bit more complex - I could almost understand her inability to commit to motherhood. The stories were well told, but I don't think they really connected in any meaningful way.
Mikki Fisher
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was enjoyable for many reasons, but the ending felt incomplete - as if a few chapters of Barbara's life had been omitted for expediency's sake. The enigmatic connection between the two sub-plots became clear right at the end, but the size of the gap between the last chapter on Barbara's life and the final chapter was weird, and unsatisfying. Other than that, it was a good read.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really struggled to finish the book as there are two parallel storylines and they don't seem to have anything in common. While the author tried very hard to explain how two women struggled with their roles in two different eras, I believed that the parallel storylines with huge amount of details made it very confusing and difficult to follow.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Story of two women one in current time and the other during post WWII years - their expectations, roles and desires - one the traditional mother who yearns for more and the modern, successful business woman who is fearful of motherhood and loosing her self. A bit drier than author’s past work.
Richard Pierce
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I read this as That Certain Age. I'd have given it 3.5 stars and was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the writing. I think it's relevant even 14 years after publication and raises interesting points and questions about equality.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: quit-reading
I couldn't get interested enough in this book to finish reading it.
Mrs Marilyn A Knibbs
Love Elizabeth Buchan, but I struggled with the swapping of times - I felt this one didn't flow, and the ending wasn't conclusive.
Dorothy Fleming
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not sure how I felt about it---I guess OK would be the best.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Honestly, I was so bored reading this. I think there may have been a revelation at the end but somehow I missed something along the way to understand it?!? And have no interest in trying to go back to figure it out. Thumbs down!
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I read this book for a book club I'm in. Honestly, I'm not sure if I would have finished it if it weren't for that because I felt like there was nothing to really keep my interest. Sure, the premise was a good idea (women struggling with decisions and issues that stand the test of time) but I didn't think Buchan did a great job with it. The stories were kind of boring, and even at the end, I felt like nothing had actually happened to get the characters to where they were.
At first I liked Siena's
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it
To start, some of you guys know that I don't like Chic Lit as much as the other genre but I gave this a chance and after reading it I thought I might have made a wrong decision with the first chic lit that I read.

It's a well written book I should say but the story is nothing new. It's a too much common story in my opinion. The book is about two women in different eras. Barbara in the 50's and Sienna who is more of the present times both experience problems in their life. The story evolve around
Ginnie Leiner
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book on a plane ride from San Francisco to Pittsburgh and it was the most enjoyable transit ever. It is the story of two women living in two different time periods in England, supposedly getting everything they ever thought they wanted. I was intrigued to find out how these women connected and was so delighted at the connection when it was finally revealed.

I think there were two overall messages in this book (for me, at least). The first was that sometimes we do things in our lives
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
It was just Ok for me. i have a hard time with people justifying extra-marital affairs with a midlife crisis.

I liked the dual story line, the past vs the present. I liked how the problems of the past are still so similar to the problems of now that we as women face.

I kind of felt that both characters were selfish in a way.
One had an affair because she felt unexciting and boring in her life.
The other put off having kids to get the career she always wanted.(much to the dismay of her husband)

But i
"everything she thought she wanted" alternates between the perspectives of siena, a modern career woman who is hesitant to start the family her husband wants, and barbara, a middle-aged 1950s housewife embarking on an affair with a hot young philosophy major. we don't find out how their stories overlap until the very end of the book, which is very mysterious. but it was an interesting juxtaposition between the two woman...kind of a "can you really have it all?" question balancing motherhood, rom ...more
Jul 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I've read each of Buchan's books twice. Not because I loved them so much, but because the details were fuzzy. Even re-reading, only isolated incidents rang a bell. I think this one was the weakest of the three. It switches every two chapters between the story of Siena, set in modern-day London, and that of Barbara, set in the post-war era. The two characters don't really have anything in common, and the two tales are linked in a cursory way at the very end of the book. The modern character is ma ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it
This is one of those books that has the potential to be excellent. The writing is beautiful and the story intriguing. However I feel like the main character has to have some type of inner resolution after facing a crossroads and these two characters from parallel stories pretty much resigned themselves into the conclusion. Basically they both chose a simple and hardworking housewife lifestyle over the more glamorous career or elicit affair. Neither really wanted to be a housewife, they just resi ...more
Unusual style in that there are two parallel stories running throughout the novel. Throughout I was trying to work out if there was going to be a link between Siena and Barbara, the two female protagonists.
They are two women living fifty years apart but both struggling to come to terms with having reached `That Certain Age'! In their different ways due to the very different life styles they are trying to find answers and compromises between their desires and love for their families.
There is a
Jul 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: pleasure
I thought I had read this book a few years ago, but found it on my "to read" pile. I think I had started it (the beginning was very familiar) but had not finished it. The parallel stories set in two different eras seemed to be going on a somewhat predictable path. The characters were well developed and appropriate to their era. One of the reviews I read talked about Siena eventually choosing the traditional role of motherhood. I think Siena's dilema in the story was not that life changing events ...more
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my usual read, not quite chick-lit but it is about "chicks"! Interesting parallels between Barbara who is living in 1959 and Siena who's living as a 21st century woman with the world at her feet apparently. Clever ending brought the two eras together. Considering half of the book was set in 1959 I can honestly say that it didn't put me off......I know it sounds terribly ignorant and probably a bit odd but I do not read anything set in the past. Recommend this book to women of all ages as it ...more
Jun 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, english
At first – I admit it – I wasn’t quite convinced with it, but then the plot got interesting and I couldn’t stop till I finished it. It is, as it is becoming more and more usual these days, a double plot: two stories being told at the same time.
Here's a quote that got me thinking:

«What I had never worked out before was that happiness has an isolating effect. I had withdrawn into my happiness because it was impossible to share. Unhappiness and doubt put one in touch with everyone else.» p90

Ms. B
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
Barbara, a married mother in 1959, and Siena, a career woman 40 years later, face the challenge of finding their happiness, each in her own way. This wise, witty novel weaves together the stories of these women, one with too many choices, one with too few.

My Opinion:
My opinion is DO NOT read this book. It was seriously a waste of time and I wish I had not bought and it and kept reading it. It took me a month to read it and it was a short book. It was a pointless story I thought.
Kate Millin
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a bit of time to get into this book, but when I did I found it a bitter sweet book as it is about 2 women in their 40's their marriages and relationships with their husbands and children in the 1959 case and the pressures about having children in the 2009 relationship. I am sure men don't agonise over relationships as much as women do, and why do we always feel guilty about doing what we want to do? No wonder I am enjoying solitude and being single.

Bookcrossing copy - src="http://www.
Jun 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, 2014
I quite enjoyed this quick read. Normally I can get frustrated by books that go back and forth between two different character plots and years, but this one didn't frustrate me and became a novel I just couldn't put down. There were a few little terms that I loved in this book: "appetite for choice" and "file weeding;" I enjoyed the word play. I thought the author had a lot of build up for each character plot, but when the climax came, I left feeling it was lacking. The ending needed more detail ...more
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
Everything She Thought She Wanted tells the story of two women -- one, a 42 year old stay-at-home wife in 1959, and the other, a 35 year old working, childless wife in the present day -- as they deal with the limiting and, often, limited choices available to them). An interesting idea for a novel, but poorly executed. The transformations that occur simply aren't believable. While Elizabeth Buchan does unearth some truths about marriage and motherhood, I found myself anxious to complete this book ...more
Feb 04, 2009 rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did it was a pretty cute story. It overlaps the lives of two women -- one in the modern day and one in the 1950s. Because it was telling two stories, it took a bit longer for the plots to develop. As the title suggests, the book explores the two women's internal struggles with what they think they want and what they think they should want and how that affects their lives.
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
While this book was wonderfully written, it left a lot to be desired for me. It felt as though there were parts of the story that dragged on forever, and parts that sped right by without focusing on the details. Besides Barbara and Siena, none of the other characters had much depth. I love the central idea behind the book, but I felt that it could have been better developed. This book was on the verge of something great, but just didn't quite get there.
Oct 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book was extremely depressing and ultimately SUCH a let down. Character development-wise it was pretty shallow even though it was addressing really good issues that women sometimes face with marriage (childbirth/temptation). It was scattered and uneven, jumping back and forth from one woman to the other...the ultimate connection between the two was identified in the last two pages!! This book was definitely a waste of time to read.
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Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books after graduating from the University of Kent with a double degree in English and History. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily – reviewed in the Independent as ‘a gorgeously well written tale: funny, sad and sophisticated’. ...more