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The Female Persuasion

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2018)
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, comes an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.

To be admired by someone we admire—we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer—madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place—feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.

Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.

454 pages, Hardcover

First published April 3, 2018

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About the author

Meg Wolitzer

46 books2,754 followers
Meg Wolitzer is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Interestings, The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, The Wife, and Sleepwalking. She is also the author of the young adult novel Belzhar. Wolitzer lives in New York City.

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5 stars
8,532 (16%)
4 stars
20,297 (38%)
3 stars
17,888 (33%)
2 stars
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1 star
1,152 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,436 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,586 reviews1,984 followers
October 24, 2017
I have read a lot of books recently that concern themselves chiefly with the experience of being a woman in the modern world. While THE FEMALE PERSUASION seems to be about this as well, I'm also not quite sure what it's about exactly. I can tell you what all the pieces are--the complexity of female friendship, the joy and danger of female mentorship, what it means to do good--and yet I didn't finish this book feeling like I'd seen any new insight, felt a deep kinship with the characters, or seen my experience or the experiences of others I know reflected back at me.

Much of the book takes place around a setpiece of privileged women gathering, paying a ridiculous ticket price, listening to women deliver inspirational messages, with manicure stations and fancy food all around. The book knows this is not a good look, and yet I often felt like I was at an event like this while reading the book, it's all very nice but none of it feels real.

My own personal tastes certainly come into play here. When our protagonist finds herself at a perfectly standard liberal arts college, her disappointment that it isn't an ivy made me roll my eyes. When our protagonist moves to the big city fresh out of college with a dream job and an apartment without roommates, same. And when we discover early on that our protagonist will eventually become famous. And when a woman who comes from money encounters people who don't for the first time. And so on. It's often hard for me to read books about privileged people working hard to make the world a better place. And it's odd because our protagonist doesn't start out as privileged but she seems to ease into it so quickly.

My favorite section of the book was about one of the only male main characters and what happens when all those trappings are suddenly gone. His detachment from everyone around him, his motivations, his actions felt more real even if I didn't find myself fully transported to his point of view. I should add that I have read a few of Wolitzer's books and never really enjoyed them. I read this one because of its premise but I think she and I are just not a good fit. She doesn't seem to write the kind of stories I can lose myself in for whatever reason.

Right now I admit I set a higher standard for books about women and feminism. We have a lot of ground to cover, and I don't see the point in books that don't push us forward, ask new questions, bring us into new conversations. Most of us have long since moved past second wave feminism, but this book seems to be speaking to people who are still enamored with it. I would have liked to see something bolder, something that asks more questions about women's choices, but it seems Wolitzer isn't quite there yet.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
December 9, 2020

Psst. A new video is up - all about the bad books I've read this year!

Now that you know that this one is on it, check out the Worst Books of 2019 video to see what other ones made the cut!
The Actual Review

I think there are two kinds of feminists. The famous ones, and everyone else. Everyone else, all the people who just quietly go and do what they’re supposed to do, and don’t get a lot of credit for it, and don’t have someone out there every day telling them they’re doing an awesome job.
Mmmmm.... it should have worked.

I wanted it to work so much.


It didn't. It realllly didn't.

We follow a few characters, but mostly Greer Kadetsky...who in addition to having quite possibly the worst first name ever inflicted upon a child, also is painfully shy and desperate to be told how to make a difference.

She meets Faith Frank - a feminist who even at 63 dazzles Greer.

Faith Frank was a pillar of society in her heyday but now is slowly being pushed further and further out. Unbeknownst to her, her quick meeting with Greer is about set Greer off on a path she never would've seen coming.

The next few years are filled with purpose, with new adventure and grass-roots rebuild of feminism.
At the podium Faith said, "Whenever I give a talk at colleges I meet young women who say, 'I'm not a feminist, but...' By which they mean, 'I don't call myself a feminist, but I want equal pay, and I want to have equal relationships with men, and of course I want to have an equal right to sexual pleasure. I want to have a fair and good life. I don't want to be held back because I'm a woman.”
Okay...I'm going to be real here.

Did ANYBODY else read this story and just die of boredom?

The train just chugged along, never picking up speed...just kind of circling around the same points over and over but never really getting anywhere.

The story started well enough - Greer is a fresh-faced undergrad student, at a loss with her life and the oppression she still feels from interacting with men.

And Faith pulls her out of the slump and hands Greer a Purpose...and then we spend the book following that Purpose...and following...and following...and...you get the point.

This book felt like the author was really trying to go for a BIG and IMPORTANT novel...but it ended up being slow and disappointing.

When I got to the end, all I could think of was, "Seriously? That's IT? All that buildup for THAT?"

I don't know, maybe it's just me...what did you all think?

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Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
April 23, 2018
Audiobook ....read by Rebecca Lowman.....[ one of my very favorite voice narrators]

The Audiobook is over 14 hours long - but the more we get to know Greer Kadetsky and Faith Frank....Cory and Zee.....the more I wanted to continue hanging out for this party ride.

About half way into it - I learned that Nicole Kidman was going to be playing Faith Frank, and I couldn’t help but begin visualizing her in the role. I think she will be great.

There was so much to enjoy! The characters and dialogues were my favorite parts of this book. I liked the relationships - some funny stories ( go-go dancing in Vegas girls?).....etc.

I also loved the whole college atmosphere—and the background stories of the college kids and their families.

I even enjoy the lessons & reminders about Individualism and Sisterhood coming together....and supporting one another. I loved the parts about modern feminism. Women have so much more freedom today — but if we separate from each other - isolate - are in competition- it could look like we don’t need each other....but nothing could be further from the truth.

Great writing...BRILLIANT writing....VERY ENJOYABLE as an AUDIOBOOK.....funny - warm - compassionate- empowering - inspiring.

I loved this book and everything it represents!
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,330 followers
April 8, 2018
4 idiosyncratic enthusiastic stars!

The Female Persuasion is one of those novels that felt flawed, but that I still really enjoyed reading. This is the third novel I’ve read by Meg Wolitzer. She writes dense stories. She portrays characters that are not particularly likeable or sympathetic. She engages with complicated contemporary political and social issues. It doesn’t all come together perfectly, but I always feel like she gives me a lot of food for thought.

The Female Persuasion focuses primarily on Greer, from adolescence to her late 20s. She is very bright and driven, but somewhat rudderless given her aloof parents. She ends up being very drawn to an older well known feminist — Faith Frank — seeking to get meaning out of working for Frank’s foundation. There are a few other characters who play a big role in Greer’s life — a long term boyfriend, a best friend and Frank’s onetime lover who funds the foundation. The book grapples with issues such as how to live a politically meaningful life, the intersection between the political and the personal, and the relationship between different generations of feminists. There are no answers or messages — although there are many moments of interesting reflection.

I suspect that The Female Persuasion won’t work for readers looking for a crisp story or clear meaning. But I really liked it, even in all of its dense messiness.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for giving me access to an advance copy.
Profile Image for Michael.
83 reviews21 followers
April 3, 2018
Simply put: it's a boring book. No real human insights beyond the lightly refreshing sparkling zinfandel struggles of rich white people.

Cory was the only character that faced real problems and his story is totally sidelined, for the way-too-convenient success story of a young woman who's life falls into fantastically perfect place due to no real effort of her own.

Dues ex machina all over the place. Reads like a dense literary Disney story. Suffers from the negative aspects of both dense literary stories, and Disney stories at the same time. Surprisingly.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,392 reviews2,387 followers
June 14, 2018
It pains me to say this, but for a book purporting to be about contemporary feminism this feels superficial, undercooked and really quite boring. The plot meanders around without ever reaching cruising speed, and switches around between characters in almost random fashion.

Important issues about rape/sexual violence, porn, misogyny, gender pay-gap, reproductive rights, what it means to be a political activist are all ticked off as present and correct but the text never really engages with them in either depth or meaningfully. And the neat-and-tidy ending has a vaguely Disney air about it.

Wolitzer does make some sharp and witty observations but they're too few and far between to liven this up in the way it needs. It almost feels like the book wants to be nice so as not to upset the conventional status quo too much. By the time Greer gets her happy ending, I was skim-reading with gritted teeth... Not a promising first date for me and Wolitzer, then.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,121 followers
May 5, 2018
Hmmmmmm........had to digest this Barnes & Noble inaugural bookclub pick for a bit; had my ups and downs with it to be honest.

While THE FEMALE PERSUASION alternates between the lives of four characters, the main focus is on a young adult, Greer about to graduate high school, her relationship with her boyfriend, lesbian best friend, unusual parents and an older woman who turns out to be her mentor.

For me, the best and most significant story belongs to Cory....how he handled shocking loss and took charge of a difficult situation for someone so young and in the prime of his life. (oh Slowy)

In contrast, for me Greer, ok....notably "uncomfortable in the world", searching for direction and purpose in life showed ambition as well as selfishness in the form of betrayal as she continued along the cure misogyny path.

Unfortunately, for me I became bored with her job, her connection to women's activist Faith Frank and whole women's rights movement....not that it's not important....its just old news that was (whew!) drawn out way beyond my allotted attention span for this novel.

Using books as an antidepressant though....that's a good one Greer!

Well defined characters, yes; and "The meaning and uses of power"....I get that, but the overdone subject matter....that turned THE FEMALE PERSUASION into a long, average ho-hum read for me.. Perhaps I'm missing some important message here?

Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,643 followers
May 18, 2018
I was mildly disappointed by this book. Most probably because I had sky-high expectations after having read and loved Meg Wolitzer’s “The Interestings”.
“The Female Persuasion” is most of all a character-driven book about feminism in our modern world. Greer is our protagonist, but we get to know other people who influence her view on life and women’s rights: Zee, her college friend, Cole her boyfriend, and last but not least Faith Frank (what a great name!) who ends up having the biggest influence on Greer.
In many ways, this book is important because it puts a focus on feminism and what it really means. However, to me it felt like the book was too character-driven and not enough was happening. The people changed, yes, but their development was very similar to the development of feminism: two steps forward, one step back. By the end of the book, you wonder where things were really going all along the way, and to me, reading this book and following these characters felt like one hopeless circle that you never seem to break away from.
I do like books with a heavy focus on the characters, but the focus in this one was a bit too heavy. Not enough was changing, the characters seemed stagnant in their lives, and my reading enjoyment decreased as I got further into the novel, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
602 reviews18.8k followers
May 22, 2018
The Female Persuasion is a novel about women, sisterhood, family, ambition, and ideals. More than a book it is also a depiction of what feminism means, what it was like decades ago and how it has evolved. Of course, we learn this from the point of view of the characters limited by their circumstances.

The story is narrated from different points of view but the character we spent the most time with is Greer Kadetsky. We follow her beginnings as a teenager all the way to adulthood. Her search for meaningful work and the disappointments she encounters along the way.

The point at which Greer's life changes is when she meets Faith Frank and becomes inspired by her speech and ideals. A few years later, Greer starts working with Faith and, I would say, this is where the novel became interesting to me.

Overall, this is a well-written novel with engaging characters and backstories. I enjoyed it and recommend it to readers of contemporary fiction.

Received ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Profile Image for Mary.
1,414 reviews490 followers
May 29, 2018
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5 rounded up

The Female Persuasion is my first book by Meg Wolitzer but it will definitely not be my last! Even though it wasn't what I expected I really enjoyed it.

The Female Persuasion focuses mostly on a woman named Greer who we are introduced to while she is going to college at Ryland, a college in Connecticut. We follow her through her life until she is middle-aged, while also skipping around to other characters like her college boyfriend Cory, and her mentor Faith Frank, among others. I liked that we got a bunch of different viewpoints in this book, including secondary characters. Even though there are a lot of characters, Wolitzer somehow managed to keep the book from getting convoluted and confusing.

The Female Persuasion is about a girl and her mentor, but also many other things. It looks at relationships between parents and children, romantic partners, and friends. There is a hefty dose of feminism and the tone of the overall book would be considered feminist in my opinion.

I loved reading about the characters in this book and I felt as though this book is more about the characterization than the actual plot. If you asked me to tell you what the plot was I frankly wouldn't be able to tell you because I was so focused on the characters and their stories. Is this the plot? I don't know, all I know is I loved this book.

Final Thought: I actually can't really think of anything I didn't like about this book. There was tragedy, love, hardship, feminism, political topics, friendship, betrayal, and so much more. It was more of a coming of age tale to me, so I guess that might be my only complaint. The blurb makes it sound more like it is just about the mentor/mentee relationship, but there was a lot more to it then that. I can't wait to read more from this author because I adore her writing style, and I think she is a masterful storyteller!

The Female Persuasion in 3-ish words: Memorable, Witty, Observant
Profile Image for Susan Merrell.
Author 5 books49 followers
September 27, 2017
I was lucky to have an early read of this funny, important and intelligent novel about what it means to be a human of the female persuasion in our complicated world. The characters here are compelling, their struggles are real, and Wolitzer's fundamental love of them is always in evidence. This novel manages to cover some of the most important issues of our day in all their complexity without ever sacrificing story--masterful and entertaining at the same time. I highly, highly recommend.
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
234 reviews160 followers
May 3, 2018
3 Stars!

This may be an unpopular opinion but I had some issues with this book. I ended up reading it because of the hype. This was also the Barnes and Noble Pick for their book club so I really read it for that.

The book has so many points of view I'm not even sure where to start. We meet Greer in the beginning: she's a scholastic girl who likes to read a lot of books and definitely different from her parents who do odd jobs and don't even make dinner for her. Greer has a boyfriend named Cory who is the 2nd smartest person in their school. They come together since they are both at the top of their class but soon they form a romantic relationship. Sadly, Greer's family drops the ball on college applications and Greer is forced to her safety school.

One night Greer's friend, Zee, forces her to go to a lecture by Faith Frank. Faith is the face of women empowerment and Greer is overwhelmed by how inspiring Faith is to her. Greer runs into Faith in the bathroom and receives her contact info. From there a journey starts. Greer ends up reaching out for a job and we watch her go through ups and downs and make choices in her life, both good and bad. I have to say at the end, when the characters true colors come out, it may really surprise you. It did for me anyway.

What did I like? 1. I thought Greer was relatable. I'm 27 and I think that some of the struggles she faced I and/or people in my life have too. 2. I think the female ambition in this book was inspiring at times.

So why the 3 star rating? Well a few things: 1. This was hyped as a #metoo movement book. There wasn't much of that. 2: This was told from a lot of points of view yet only 10 chapters so within the long chapters it bounced around a lot. 3. I thought this would be more of a story about female empowerment and honestly it felt to me like this was about how someone who is your mentor may not be all that they seem. 4. This book was simply too long. It could have easily been cut back 100 pages.

I know some may love this but sadly it was just OK in my eyes. Not every book can be a 5 star winner!
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,426 reviews8,331 followers
September 8, 2018
A peculiar novel about Greer Kadetsky, a freshman in college who meets a feminist icon, Faith Frank, who changes the direction of Greer's life in ways she could never expect. Before meeting Faith, Greer had a long-term boyfriend, Cory, and a persistent discontentment with her parents and the non-Ivy-League liberal arts college she attends. However, when Greer's friend Zee informs Greer about Faith Frank's status as a feminist icon and her speaking event at their college, Greer takes a chance, goes and sees Faith, and disrupts the course her life had been on before.

I felt so moved by some of the ideas and relationships in The Female Persuasion, even though the book never completely came together for me. Meg Wolitzer portrayed the inspiring parts and the perils of mentorship through Faith and Greer's relationship, as well as the solidarity and potential difficulties of female friendship through the bond between Greer and Zee. Though at first I detested Cory, his growth actually made me tear up by the end of the novel, as his character represented a beautiful reversal of toxic masculinity in the face of tragedy. The themes of mentorship, friendship, and coming-of-age within the tumultuous time of one's 20s stood out as the strongest aspects of The Female Persuasion, with a slight feminist touch undergirding it all.

Recommended to those who may like a less straightforward, cohesive story. The consistent switching up of perspectives between different characters made it hard for me to form a deep love for the characters. Still, I can see how this novel would stir a great discussion at a book club, even if its feminist themes have more subtlety than say, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo .
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,106 followers
September 2, 2019
The Female Persuasion has all the right ingredients, but manages to be both underbaked and 100 pages too long. I'm glad I read it and grateful to my book club for selecting it, even though this novel ultimately didn't quite satisfy.

Its subject - the evolution and commercialisation of the feminist movement over the past 50 years - is delivered through the story of two women, one a Boomer and the other a Millennial. Most descriptions (including the author's) of the relationship between Greer and Faith call it mentoring. Certainly Greer hero-worships Faith, who in turn employs and encourages Greer, but to me at least, a mentor is more than just a supportive boss. I was left wanting more interaction between these two, but their stories largely run parallel to one another.

This is a well written novel, astute and perceptive, with shrewd characterisations, and very engaging for much of its length. But it becomes ponderous, as Wolitzer feels the need to relate each character's entire life story - even the minor ones. Presumably this is intended to add psychological depth and better understand the characters' actions, which it does succeed in doing, but there is rather too much backstory at the expense of forward motion. The foreshadowed conflict, when it finally arrives, is also a bit of a letdown.

The Female Persuasion offers lots of food for thought and fodder for discussion, so while I didn't love it, I'm very much looking forward to the book club conversation. 3 stars.
Profile Image for Shiggy.
41 reviews10 followers
March 21, 2018
*light spoilers*

Today, it was my mission to get through the 464 pages of Female Persuasion because I really wanted to know if this book lives up to the hype! It just got picked for B&N's inaugural book club pick AND the story starts with an excerpt on the first page about being 'the next Great American Novel'. So I threw myself into the story-- and honestly, for the early half of the book, I was super with it!

I quickly saw myself in young Greer as she became exposed to feminism and women's issues through her college experiences, and Zee who was a true activist with a heart for the people from the start. Hands down favorite character throughout was Cory though, Greer's boyfriend who I consistently got #goodguy vibes from in every step of his relationship and personal development. Like, that's a boy whose mother raised him right, you know?

My problem with this book, which is why I eventually gave it 3 stars, is with how these super promising characters progress in the book. Female Persuasion calls out the privilege of white & performative feminism throughout the story (and especially when Greer's femtor Faith Frank comes into play), yet I think the book still falls into that same trap by the end. Maybe I missed something, but at no point did Greer end up striking me as my next feminist hero-- in fact, I didn't really find her that redeemable at the end at all because it didn't seem like she'd learned or grown from what happened to her in the second half of the book? Like everyone else in her life goes through some really transformative or traumatic situations, but she just... learns about feminism? And then ends up very successful in the end on that alone?

Interestingly enough, Cory was the hero of this story for me-- I was so pleasantly surprised to see a man who was so not trash? I was rooting for his success and felt satisfied by the way things turned out for him!

I think overall this book has really important themes and it's worth the read, especially for someone who's looking to get more exposed to feminism or women empowerment themes. Female mentorship is such an amazing thing to have, discuss, and celebrate-- and I loved that this book delved into the significance of that! But for me (similar to the reviews other readers have left for this story) the book didn't go far enough to really make a statement beyond 'it's important to understand the feminism is important'.

It was super entertaining, the characters + their background stories are captivating, and the drama is *good*. But if it's going to be championed as the feminist read for this Trump Era, I felt like it needed something more-- whether it was reflection on the character's incredible privilege or a more radical stance and call to action. But just something more.
Profile Image for Jessica.
162 reviews6 followers
December 3, 2017
DAMMIT. As if I needed another reason to obsess over the state of the world, feminism, grief, etc, here comes this book and makes me sit and THINK about everything instead of happily escaping into the void of cute dog videos.
Profile Image for Lisa.
610 reviews232 followers
April 30, 2018
A satisfying novel of a young woman trying to figure out who she is, and who she is supposed to be in the world.

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman at Ryland College. She’s there because her parents could not fill out the financial aid forms that would have yielded her entry into Yale. This isn’t where she wanted to be. While at Ryland, she meets Faith Frank for the first time. Faith, 63, is a feminist icon and has been a central player in the women’s movement for decades. Faith can carry a room with her knowledge and wit, and her suede boots were enviable. Greer is captivated by Faith, and after graduation goes to work for her, interviewing women for their stories and writing speeches. Her relationship with Faith as her mentor becomes complicated.

Greer and Cory had been a couple since high school.They had planned on going to college together, but that didn’t happen. Cory was accepted at Yale, while Greer was relegated to Ryland college. Though hundreds of miles apart their relationship survived, and they made plans for after graduation. But once again things didn’t work out as planned for either Greer or Cory. Greer’s best friend, Zee who’s is gay, is also struggling to make a difference in the world. She too wanted to work for Faith Frank.

“I think there are two kinds of feminist. The famous ones, and everyone else. Everyone else, all the people who just quietly go and do what they’re supposed to do, and don’t get a lot of credit for it, and don’t have someone out there every day telling them they’re doing an awesome job.”

THE FEMALE PERSUASION is a novel about a young woman who is trying to find her place in the world. It about a woman trying to figure out who she is supposed to be and who she is suppose to be with. It’s about the obstacles in her life that prevented her from achieving the things she thought she was supposed to be doing. While the writing was great I found reading it to be a struggle at times, and my interest sometimes faltered. The story was long but interestingly raised a variety of social issues that played significant role in the narrative: privilege, personal/professional ethics, and family responsibility to name just a few. The modern day feminism aspect of the book left a little to be desired.

The people in Greer’s life, her best-friend, Zee, her boyfriend, Cory and her mentor, Faith, all played pivotal roles in guiding Greer’s decisions and impacting her life. Greer’s character was at times frustrating, she left me waiting for her to evolve into a stronger, bolder character. All characters were well developed and I particularly liked Cory, and how he handled the difficulties he faced after graduation.

Meg Wolitzer is a New York Times best selling author of The Interestings, The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, The Wife and Sleepwalking. I listened to the audio version of the book, which was narrated by Rebecca Lowman. Publisher Penguin Random House Audio. Publication Date April 3, 2018.

“I do it for women. Not everyone agrees with the way I do it. Women in powerful positions are never safe from criticism. The kind of feminism I’ve practice is one way to go about it. There are plenty of others, and that’s great. There are impassioned and radical young women out there, telling multiple stories. I applaud them. We need them. We need as many women fighting as possible. I learned that early on from the wonderful Gloria Steinem - the world is big enough for different kinds of feminist to coexist, people who want to emphasize different aspects of the fight for equality. God knows the injustices are endless, and I am going to use whatever resources are at my disposal to fight in the way I know how.”
Profile Image for Madi.
629 reviews743 followers
June 15, 2018
Truly hated the way this woman writes but I had to read this for work. I was told this book was relevant to the me too movement but it doesn't really seem that way. Blegh. If you're looking for a better feminist read that will actually get you thinking read The Power by Naomi Alderman.
Profile Image for Christine Boyer.
306 reviews29 followers
June 2, 2018
Oh my. Just closed this book and I'm reminded of one thing: "bestseller" does not equate to "good book". I'm so irritated about this boring, predictable and tedious book right now that I should wait before I write this review. However, I don't want to think about it any more so I'm going to keep this a short and sweet as possible.

From a literary perspective - good god. Nothing, nothing original, clever, witty, or profound written on these pages.

From a story perspective - I've never seen so much detail written about a character and still have no idea and NO CONNECTION to the character. The most interesting, well-drawn character (who had some actual issues to deal with in the story) was the MALE character, boyfriend Cory. Go figure.

From a social perspective - I gained no new insight on anything. I gave at least 2 stars because I loved the premise of the young main character being inspired by a feminist. However, as I read a Goodreads review, "can anyone tell me what the Faith Frank character said that was interesting or awe-inspiring?" It read more like a silly, young teen girls' novel.

So utterly disappointing. Never read Wolitzer before. Noticed all of her novels have pretty low Goodreads ratings. Not inclined to read her again.
Profile Image for Caroline .
411 reviews559 followers
July 15, 2018

The complicated and emotionally fraught topic of feminism is the theme of Wolitzer’s newest novel, The Female Persuasion. She did this deftly, making what can be an abstract concept concrete via two main characters. These are a college graduate, a Millennial who represents postmodern feminism; and a Baby Boomer--famous, well respected, and reminiscent of the pioneering Susan Brownmiller. Other prominent characters round out the story in meaningful ways.

To be clear, Wolitzer didn’t make her own statement about feminism the way she might have if this were nonfiction. This book doesn’t contain new feminist ideas, nor will it educate those already well informed on the subject. It’s simply fiction with a feminist bent. Wolitzer’s particular approach, however, is fresh and the topic current.

This was an ambitious story to write, and a less experienced author probably would have made a mess of it in no time. It’s wide in scope, with four major story lines weaving in and out of each other at various points, and a fifth, less important one entering the mix later. Characters age and change psychologically, some drastically so. There are happy and sad surprises along the way. It’s risky to include so much; there’s the possibility one (or more) of the story lines will eclipse the others. That never happens.

The many engaging storylines could be what’s best about The Female Persuasion, but it’s hard to say, because Wolitzer’s characterization is marvelous, with each main character fully developed and true-to-life, always speaking and acting naturally. It’s this that really makes The Female Persuasion a rewarding reading experience.

Particularly well done is the older feminist, Faith Frank. She’s just cool. She’s immediately easy to hear, with her breezy turns of phrase, and she’s easy to visualize with her signature style of dress and poised demeanor. She has millions of admirers. Many send her fan letters. Some dream to be her best friend.

Where Wolitzer was less successful was in linking the many storylines. The connection is tenuous between some, and the feminism theme hazy or, it can be argued, missing in a few. Nevertheless, The Female Persuasion’s many strengths make it pretty easy to forgive that lack of cohesion. By the end, the story is also complete, with its many parts tied up satisfactorily. It feels like a journey that’s reached its natural conclusion. That can’t be underestimated with a story this elaborate.

NOTE: I received this as an Advanced Reader Copy from Goodreads in May 2018.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,024 reviews881 followers
September 20, 2019
3.5 stars

The Female Persuasion was a decent book. It failed to make a strong impression on me, despite its main theme - feminism through the eyes of the older and the younger generation.

Faith Frank is the distinguished, feminist figure who's in her sixties. Hearing her speak at university left a strong impression on young Greer Kadetsky.
After finishing college, Greer ends up working for the new foundation Faith Frank had started with the help of a Venture capital investment firm.
Greer is devoted to Faith Frank, she admires her energy, her kindness, poise and sense of justice.

I appreciated several aspects in this novel:
- the juxtaposition of different kinds of feminism;
- the fact that nobody is perfect, even with the best intentions, outside forces, be it financial, personal, social, affect everyone.
- it's important for the older feminists/women to inspire and propel the younger generations.
- The Sisterhood is essential.

I didn't object to any ideas, characters in this novel.
The novel's structure and the way it was written contributed to my somewhat diminished appreciation. There was a bit too much back-story, unnecessarily long at times.

This is yet another novel that should have resonated much more than it did. In saying all that, I'm not sorry I read it.

Profile Image for Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader).
390 reviews102 followers
May 3, 2018

This book is a beast, in that the hardcover is 454 pages. I started this book on a Sunday in the hopes of finishing by Wednesday, May 2nd to make the Barnes & Noble Inaugural Book Club Night (on said book). I did it but it was no small feat! Lots of late night reading and carrying the book with me everywhere and reading while waiting on line, or while walking to the subway, or whenever I had a free moment. But, you don’t care about that. You want to know if you should read it or not…well you can only decide that. I just hope you enjoy my comments.

This book actually wasn’t what I expected. Not that I didn’t really know what to expect, but thought it would be the beginning and end of the story of Greer and her mentor Faith: how they came to meet, how Faith would help mold Greer, and Greer rising to power. But, here the supporting characters backstories were part of the narrative and sections were devoted to learning about each one; the story was split into 4 parts: The Strong Ones; Twin Rocket Ships; I Get To Decide; and, Outside Voices. I was a big fan of this structure, although most of the chapters were super long and I often had to stop in the middle of them (which can be a pain when picking back up!).

We navigate Greer, Cory, Zee, and Faith’s lives through finding themselves, settling into careers, and their relationships with each other and outside forces. They experience happiness, grief, success and disappointments and will learn who they are in the face of each; their journeys are different and sometimes not aligned. The writing is authentic and genuine: and strong character development is evident. I enjoyed getting to know these characters and will miss them a bit.

The title can throw you off; I didn’t think this was a book about feminism really, but of people finding their way and learning that what they know – or want to believe – isn’t always as it seems.

If you attended the B&N Book Club event, let me know how it went!

To read my reviews visit: www.saturdaynitereader.com
Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
314 reviews1,965 followers
May 5, 2018
A smart, pacy book about ambition, magnetism, and mentors. The main storyline follows Greer, a hardworking but unassuming college student who becomes inspired by an aging feminist icon named Faith Frank (modeled after second-wave feminists like Gloria Steinem). After graduation, Faith hires Greer, but Cory and Zee (Greer’s boyfriend and best friend) find their lives moving in less exciting directions. Wolitzer is witty in a way that’s never precious, and I love how she uses third-person narration to subtly reflect each character’s psyche without judgment. The result is a novel that’s wonderfully insightful about power dynamics, personal and professional compromises, and the unpredictable trajectories of life.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,699 followers
July 2, 2018
I read doorstop-sized The Female Persuasion over a weekend, which is a testament to Meg Wolitzer's warm and friendly, piquant and witty writing style. She's not Margaret, after all—cerebral and aloof—or Meghan—adorable and alluring—she's comfortably Meg, and her books have always sort of met me right where I am in my intellectual and social progression. I just looked it up: she's ten years older, so you know, in older sister or boss/mentor territory, but close enough that we speak the same language, our cultural references becoming more similar. I mean, almost 50 and almost 60 is far less significant than 19 and 29, YKWIM?

I recognize that my speed-read was also a search for an explanation—what does it mean to be a middle-aged white feminist in 2018? I found many head-nodding moments in The Female Persuasion, but no answers. And shame on me. As a writer, I should know better. We try not to do answers. We do story. Meg gives us a long look into the kaleidoscope, shifting and tilting it with each character and event, but she doesn't break apart the tube to spill the individual pieces of glass that collide and change shape, depending on our viewpoint.

The Female Persuasion is the story of two women, Greer Kadestsky, who is at the beginning of her social, political, and intellectual journey—and Faith Frank, who is in full, mature bloom. Faith is a famous feminist, perhaps less so now than at the prime of second-wave feminism in the 70s and 80s, but she still holds a certain cache, making the lecture circuit at second or third tier universities, which is where she briefly meets Greer on the mid '00s. Greer is an unassuming co-ed who missed out on Yale because the financial aid form overwhelmed and insulted her weed-whacked parents. She thinks she may want to become a writer, but realizes she's likely destined for mediocrity, until her potential is set afire by a few kind words from sexy, approachable, smart, aging but still goddess-like Faith.

Greer goes to work at Faith's foundation, LOCI, soon after she graduates from college and weeks after LOCI is founded, underwritten by a wealthy and ethically-challenged friend of Faith's, Emmett Shrader. LOCI is Faith's second chance, after her feminist magazine, Bloomer folds, having long ago lost its relevance in the face of more penetrating third and fourth waves of feminism. LOCI's mission is to bring together inspirational speakers for summits, as well as to fund special projects to aid women in crisis the world over.

Greer, in at the ground floor, receives a crash course in contemporary feminism, at least what passed as contemporary ten years ago, when we were flush with self-congratulatory joy over having elected Barack Obama as president. In the years that follow, as Faith mentors Greer, grooming her perhaps for grander schemes, Greer becomes aware of the cracks in the foundation, both in her feminist hero-mentor, and in her place of employment, the LOCI foundation. These summits she helps to organize are attended by well-heeled white lady feminists, with manicurists and a psychic on site to ease them away from the drama of the real world.

At its heart, The Female Persuasion is coming of age tale, and as in The Interestings, it is about friendship. Greer brings along a high school sweetheart, Cory, and a college bestie, Zee, who make their own engaging and important journeys in the story. Millennials navigate jobs and love and sex and identity, competition in an age of low expectations, and the contradictions of the personal and the political.

It is a clash of ideals v reality that give The Female Persuasion its plot twists, and have this reader twisted around looking over her own shoulder. Although I do not question the many roads paved for me by my feminist predecessors, I wonder what my own relevance is as a white woman, and what my legacy will be. Feminism is no longer about striving for equality for women; it is a clarion call for social justice for all who do not have equal standing in society.

In The Female Persuasion, Meg Wolitzer creates a ripped-from-the-headlines reflection that is both gentle satire and satisfying pleasure. This reader picked it up and practically didn't put it down until she was finished. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Eli.
219 reviews100 followers
December 11, 2018
While I really liked the thoughts in this book I didn't really get what the author wanted to say? The plot was all over the place but I enjoyed it nevertheless soooo

I guess I liked it and I guess this is 3 stars worth
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,311 reviews658 followers
May 25, 2018
4.5 Stars: “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer is a timely novel given the “Me Too” movement. The novel addresses feminism, highlighting the generational differences that women have dealt with and become involved in feministic issues. One reoccurring issue is dealing with sexual assaults and misconducts.

The story opens with one of the main characters, Greer Kadetsky, getting groped at a Frat party at her university. Greer doesn’t know how she feels about it; while her best friend is indignant and suggests that she reports it to the university, Greer feels that she was somehow complicit in that she happened to be drinking, so she “asked for it”. Those are outdated standards in our time now. Now women can outwardly be indignant and men are just now being called on those sorts of behaviors. The dates of this occurrence aren’t written, but I’m assuming it was in the ‘80’s. Greer did report it, and as was typical in the 1980’s through 2010’s, not much was done about it. Now, women are publically demanding justifying responses.

That event also provided another reoccurring topic of the novel: what should women do about it? What should women do to make women equal to men in pay, conduct….life? Wolitzer does a fabulous job of showing how feminism has evolved, with each generation focusing on differing ideals.

Wolitzer delves into other topics as well. How women treat each other, being critics of each other rather than supporting each other is peppered into the novel. Loyalty, friendship, marriage, and love are also themed throughout the novel. Basically it’s Wolitzer at her finest. I’ve always loved her novels, as she is a solid writer of domestic issues and women’s issues. Her characters are authentic in generational changes. She chronicles the changing American environment that both women and men live through.

I highly recommend this novel. Wolitzer is a talented author who illuminates the struggles and changes of our culture.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,130 reviews724 followers
August 15, 2018
(AUDIOBOOK) You know how sometimes a book is SO hyped that it’s almost unfair to the actual story? Personally, I know that hype can set me up for unrealistic expectations that no book can live up to.

In the case of THE FEMALE PERSUASION, I’m happy to say that some of the hype was warranted......as in, I listened to the audio version of the book and was thoroughly entertained and invested throughout the entire LONG story. The narration was excellent and I came to deeply care about the characters. However, was it the best book I’ve read all year? Or all week? Not especially. See, that’s the problem ~ when EVERY list and magazine on earth tells me THIS is the book to read, I expect NO ISSUES. And I had some minor issues with especially the last 10% of the book and how things got wrapped up. Issues that for a book with less hype I probably wouldn’t even mention.

BOTTOM LINE 〰️ I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a contemporary women’s fiction story with themes of feminism and friendship. I loved the listening experience and definitely recommend the audio version. Go into it without the weight of the hype, though....you’ll have more fun.
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,062 reviews144 followers
October 7, 2018
Greer is a college freshman when she meets Faith Frank. Faith is in her sixties and has been involved with the women's movement for many years. Faith is encouraging to Greer, and even hires her later on in the story. This book follows Greer's journey through college and young adulthood, where she explores her relationships and ambitions.

Told using multiple points of view, but most of the story is from Greer's POV. At the start of the novel, Greer is smart, but she's studying at her backup school due to issues with her parents. Her boyfriend is at another school, and she's a little lonely and lost at the onset of the story. As she makes friends and gets involved in college, she starts to learn a little more about herself and develop a desire to get more involved with women's rights. Faith is a strong influence on Greer. After Greer graduates college, she work with a foundation founded by Faith.

There are sisterhood and feminist ideas in this book, but it's not all sunshine and roses. Greer and Faith are both flawed, and make some poor decisions. My favorite part of the story was Cory, Greer's boyfriend. I find it interesting that the most intriguing character in a book about women, was a man.

This contemporary novel addresses some relevant topics, including feminism, privilege, and rape culture. While I see how it could promote some interesting discussions, it's also kind of long and slow. I'm glad I read it, and it's a good read for fans of contemporary women's fiction.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,420 reviews537 followers
June 13, 2018
This novel doesn't add much insight into "what it means to be a feminist in the modern age," but it is a fast, readable read showcasing Wolitzer's intelligence and wit. I had a few problems with it.

The clunky structure featured too much "telling" with pages of unnecessary backstory filler for the various characters. Wolitzer tells the reader many times that the feminist icon, Faith Frank, is charismatic and dynamic. But the character she revealed in the book is bland and unappealing. As is her acolyte Greer. The character I was most interested in was unfortunately on the sidelines - Greer's boyfriend, Cory, who turns out to be the ultimate feminist.
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