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The Position

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  4,038 ratings  ·  421 reviews
From the bestselling author of The Wife—Meg Wolitzer’s “hilariously moving, sharply written novel” (USA TODAY), hailed by critics and loved by readers worldwide, with its “dead-on observations about sex, marriage, and the family ties that strangle and bind” (Cleveland Plain Dealer).

Crackling with intelligence and humor, The Position is the masterful story of one
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Scribner (first published March 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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 ·  4,038 ratings  ·  421 reviews

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This is one of those ‘ennui of modern American life as seen through one dysfunctional family’ novels that I normally avoid like the plague – and indeed, an early chapter featuring yet another melancholy genius worrying about his antidepressants and sexual hang-ups made me fear the worst. But I was strangely won round, mainly thanks to some smart narrative focus which helps keep things tight and under control.

Our main characters are the four children of Roz and Paul Mellow, a couple who achieved
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
When I first read the back of this book I thought it sounded potentially hilarious and at the very least quite interesting. And while the premise certainly is interesting, Wolitzer falls a little flat on her delivery. The story begins in the seventies when the Mellows first publish their how-to sex guide (featuring illustrations of themselves in all the positions!) but rapidly moves to the present day and focuses on the current lives and loves of the four grown children.

It's hard to imagine, but
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to begin? I love Meg Wolitzer. Only recently did I become aware of her, and to date I've only read two of her books. But from what I know, from what I've read, this is the novelist for me. This is someone interested in the things I'm interested in -- human relationships, relationships between parents and children, relationships between lovers. There's romance here, but never sentimentality. There's sex, but it's always realistic and tasteful. She's not afraid to deal with the great ...more
Rachel León
This novel has Meg Wolitzer's signature charm, which I love, and the premise is interesting: the children of a couple who wrote an illustrated sex manual (think THE JOY OF SEX) find it and this discovery changes everyone. Ultimately, this novel left a lot to be desired. The plot had great potential, but didn't go as far as it could have and the character development wasn't entirely satisfying. I love Meg Wolitzer, but this wasn't my favorite novel.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who grew up in the seventies
Shelves: fiction
I listened to Wolitzer give a talk at a writing conference in 2007. She said that she was intrigued by writing about the mundanities of life, like food and sex. She didn't think people wrote well about it.

She preached what was to me a curious distance--she didn't think that sex scenes should be titillating, and hers are mostly not.

Despite that, her characters are well developed, and her writing is very good. I was quite amused throughout most of the book. There appeared to me to be some point
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Meg writes in a way that makes me want to write. She has a wit and a humor so subtle and smart that it takes my breath away.
Her knowledge of what makes people "tick" (especially CHILDREN) and the ways our young souls are marred is at such a depth that I wonder sometimes about her own story as I read: HOW does she know so much about human nature?
Brilliant, smart, biting and kind - a feminist who is not held down or in her anger. She sees well, she loves well, and I am always left
Matthew Crehan Higgins
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I woke up in the middle of the night and all I could think about was being only 25% away from finishing this book, so I got up and did. That's the strength of Meg Wolitzer's characters. They read in a way that feels so real that when the book is put down, the reader keeps on thinking about them and wondering. She has a great gift for telling things in multiple discourse, flashing forward and back and looking at the same events from different characters' experiences and never loses the reader.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Your parents write a book about sex and are featured in tasteful drawings in many, many positions, one of which they invent.
You and your three siblings discover said bestseller on top of a cupboard when you all are six to 14 years old.

Surprise, surprise. Screwed up adulting in your future. Guaranteed.
3.5 stars

This is the first book by Meg Wolitzer that I've managed to finish because for a while I kept buying her books without actually finishing (or even starting) any of them. I was just straight up collecting them.

I enjoyed this, although it took me a while to get into it, but I also stopped thinking about it the moment I finished the last page.
The writing was exceptionally good. The characters were flawed but well written. The premise, revolving around the infamous book, was great. The
I love the creative plot ideas Wolitzer seems to have no problem coming up with. "The Position" creates the what-if scenario involving two parents who write a best selling manual on sex. Real smart. If you love your children, you do not publicize dozens of baked sketches of the two of you having sex in caps Kuma-Sutra positions. They even create their own position, christened "Electric Forgiveness". Something like sitting facing each other, wrapping arms in a hug-like position, then inserting ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Meg Wolitzer takes up an entire shelf at my local library. Where is a girl to start? Ten-Year Nap? Um, I haven't actually woken up from mine yet. So, no thanks. The Uncoupling? The Wife? Um, relationships are hard. I get it... So, no thanks. The Position? Let's see... Children haunted by parent's sex book. Crackling with intelligence and humor. Set in 1970s suburbia. That should be a suitable escape - nothing that hits too close to home.

Boy, was I wrong. This story, with its seemingly
Feb 28, 2010 rated it liked it
How would you and your siblings react if your parents had written the nation's best selling sex guide (complete with graphic illustrations of themselves demonstrating various positions) of the 1970's? This novel opens with the four Mellow children gathering in the den one afternoon to page through the volume. Their initial reactions as well as the lifelong effect of carrying the Mellow name and feeling like the whole world has watched your parents have sex over and over again is chronicled in ...more
David Jay
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book from the first word to the last! I don't know how I have missed all of Meg Wolitzer's novels over the years but she is my new favorite, albiet belated, discovery.

Roz and Paul Mellow become rich and famous in the 1970s when their book "Pleasuring" (think "Joy of Sex") becomes hugely successful. The book contains many drawings of the couple in various sexual poses. "The Position" begins on the day their four children discover the book hidden away in the den and follows the family
Eric Cohen
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been on a real suburban fiction kick lately and this one really sung to me. It follows a family who lives change in the 70's after the parents write an illustrated sex manual a la "The Joy of Sex."

While the book becomes famous and offers the family money and fame, the (sex) lives of all four children and the parents are affected in many different ways as they move on to adulthood.

The prose in this is wonderful and it's not a Good Read but a great one.
Anne Marshall
Mar 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
A very odd book. No discenerable plot. Basically just a sequence of events.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read four of Wolitzer's books now. Just like the other three (The Female Persuasion, The Interestings, and The Wife), The Position an incredible piece of work.

One of Wolitzer's powers is her ability to make the characters feel so plausibly real. When her characters fall in love, it's electric. When they cheat on one another, it's heart breaking. When one gets sick, it's terrifying. The lives of these characters could be my friends and family, or they could be me. The situations are
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book drew me in with promises of humor and a trajectory of family growth and development in the age of the sexual revolution. What I got in turn was a weak, depressing, unfulfilled snooze-fest of festering self-loathing and self-pity among the members of this sad, pathetic excuse for a family. The idea of "loving" parents couldn't have been more antithetical in this book. These parents loved no-one but themselves. And it wasn't because of their love of sexual exploration. It was that they ...more
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-on-kindle
What a difficult book to rate! First let's start with the (in my opinion) pretty weird premise for a book.

In the 1970s, a husband and wife who have 4 children decide to write a book about their sex life complete with pictures and one of the kids discovers the book and shares it with his siblings. So now all 4 children have seen graphic pictures of their parents having sex.

Despite this really weird beginning for a book, it is very well-written and as the book continues by following the lives of
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
I love character-driven fiction, but this is pretty character-heavy/plot-lite even for me.

The story here is great, but the set-up is tough: picking up 30 years after a particular event -- four children discovering that their parents had written, posed for, and would become famous for a sex guide -- makes it difficult to really go into much depth.

Each of the main characters, particularly the children, are supremely messed up, but Wolitzer is kind of asking her reader to do her a favor and just go
Bessie James
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The premise of this book stretchs your credulity -- how would it feel to be the children of a couple that produced a famous sex manual, replete with life-like drawings of your parents coupling in various positions? Meg Wolitzer pulls this off with panache. She develops a wide cast of characters that react to the situation in different, but understandable ways. The writing is clear, and sometimes gorgeous. I will look for more of her work.
Julia Fierro
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book. Funny, smart, revealing, thought-provoking. It's one of those rare books you wish you could forget, so you could read it again for the first time!
Magdalena Wajda
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I like the author, so I was optimistic and intrigued when reaching for this book.
Initially, it got me interested, then it got a bit boring, over-stretched, overly focused on sex, depression, antidepressants, psychology... Very East Coast, very New Yorkish, tedious, I thought.
Fortunately halfway through it got interesting again.
The book tells the story of a bit dysfunctional, a bit weird family. The parents wrote a wildly successful book with sex advice, a modern-day American Kamasutra ;) And
Jan 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Finish what you start. Even if what you started was a truly awful book by Meg Wolitzer. I liked The Interestings and thought I'd read another one of her other books. This one sounded a little racy and salacious (not my typical type of book choice) and the theme seemed interesting to me. However, it was beyond boring. My advice to my Goodreads friends is to skip it.
Donna Jaskolski
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read something from Meg, and chose this particular book for no particular reason. I enjoyed how she crafted the characters and family. She created the story on one event and how it impacted each member of the family through their entire lives. Looking forward to reading more of her work.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read--I liked how it traced through each of the characters and how they were affected. There were also some great descriptions. In the end it didn't really grab me.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
The time was the mid-seventies. Paul and Roz Mellow lived in a suburb called Wontaucket, and on a "normal" weekend, their four children are spending the day alone while their parents are off giving a lecture.

The second oldest child, Michael, discovers the mysterious tome on a top shelf, bookended by something innocuous, but he is curious. Something about the way it seems almost hidden....

From that point on, the story unfolds as the children discover what the book entails and secretly share its
Sarah Coleman
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Having been a huge fan of Meg Wolitzer's novels 'The Ten Year Nap' and 'The Interestings,' I decided to delve into her back catalog, and 'The Position' seemed a good place to start. Like Wolitzer's later novels, this one follows a number of different characters connected by bonds of family or friendship. In this case we meet Paul and Roz Mellow, a 1970s couple who pen a 'Joy of Sex' type book titled 'Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment.' The book, which makes them famous, is ...more
Sep 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Meg Wolitzer's novel, "The Position" includes a plot so richly layered and interesting, on can doubt that it consists of this novelist's best work to date. "The Position" revolves around the family of the Mellows, suburbanites who, in the middle of the 70's, write a sex manual where they serve as the models for the paintings. While the manual takes off, making the family wealthy and the parents famous, at home things change. One evening the Mellows four children, ages 7-15 find and read the ...more
Maya Lang
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
After reading (and loving) The Interestings, I went back to Wolitzer's previous novels and found myself disappointed. They were very good: engrossing, funny, detailed. But where was that extra spark that makes certain characters memorable and vivid?

The answer, I think, is that Meg Wolitzer got progressively better with each novel. You see all of the elements of The Interestings here: the ensemble cast, the question of how fame affects people, the ability to capture certain salient moment in
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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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“No one had told her this would happen, that her girlishness would give way to the solid force of wifehood, motherhood. The choices available were all imperfect. If you chose to be with someone, you often wanted to be alone. If you chose to be alone, you often felt the unbearable need for another body - not necessarily for sex, but just to rub your foot, to sit across the table, to drop his things around the room in a way that was maddening but still served as a reminder that he was there.” 20 likes
“All of the women in that time and place, Thea had learned, were stuffed into muslin and starched cotton and forced to sit ramrod-straight and plait their hair or pull it back off their faces with fish oil. There were shoes that laced up with a hundred eyelets, and corsets that required a special hook to open. Women were all in it together back then, as opposed to now, when one woman's experience could differ so greatly from another's that you never knew who you were talking to.” 1 likes
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