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The Uncoupling

2.92  ·  Rating details ·  7,936 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews
From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "The Ten-Year Nap, " a funny, provocative, revealing novel about female desire.
When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play "Lysistrata"-the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war-a strange spell seems to be cast over the school
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Riverhead Books (first published 2011)
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Amanda I actually have to disagree. Maybe because "The Uncoupling" is the first Meg Wolitzer book I've read (tried to read "The Interestings", but ironically…moreI actually have to disagree. Maybe because "The Uncoupling" is the first Meg Wolitzer book I've read (tried to read "The Interestings", but ironically stopped halfway through... not interesting enough). This plot does come dangerously close to corniness, and in the hands of a less capable author it would be unreadable. I think you cannot read this expecting a traditional "novel"; it's really a modern fable. Once I pegged it as a fable, I understood it and enjoyed it much more. I found it charming and character-driven. The plot device itself is weak, I definitely agree with that. If you can overlook that, however, you'll find really interesting perspectives from women in all stages of life and relationships, all facing the same issue of a sudden disinterest in sex. In the end it reveals the dichotomy of sex: how this socially taboo subject is at the same time monumentally important in defining our romantic relationships and our sense of ourselves as human beings. It's a good read if you like reading more about characters facing a common crisis than a strong, tight plot :)

But I do agree, the ending was lame. I'll try reading "Sleepwalking" soon...

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Average rating 2.92  · 
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 ·  7,936 ratings  ·  1,205 reviews

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Jun 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
I am so over Meg Wolitzer. My three novel study, read in under two weeks, rendered me in turn unable to stay awake during the day, unable to sleep at night, unable to digest my food, and generally irritable all over. She is simply a bad writer and I cannot fathom how she gets even one good review, though she gets many.

What she does do well is capture and relate the thoughts women have privately as well as the commonplace emotions of women. It is true that we only share those thoughts and feeling
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, 2011
Meg Wolitzer's writing skirts the line between literary fiction and beach read. On one hand, she has a clever eye for human thought and folly that makes me look forward to her books. On the other hand, her plots are often novel and neatly wrapped up in a way that undermines whatever effort she puts into character building.

The same praise and criticism applies to The Uncoupling. However, it does have a truly terrible climax (appropriate for a book with a lot of fail sex) that is so cheesy it bel
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I kept Ms. Wolitzer's name on my mental backburner for several months now...not necessarily because of the recent release of her The Interestings (which three of my Goodreads friends have already read and favorably reviewed) but because of her jacket blurb endorsement on the back of Nicholson Baker's "Book of Raunch" (aka House of Holes...and I'm all like "yeah! she loves bad porn! Gotta read her pronto!" Unless sales go through the roof, it's doubtful my little library's gonna get The Interesti ...more
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it
The Uncoupling is a good book that could have been a great book.

It has some perceptive and provocative insights into the nature of desire itself: what is desire, anyway? How does it change between the heady times of first love and the more mundane times of adulthood? Can a relationship sustain itself when desire flees?

The book unfolds around the classic and comic play Lysistrata, written by Aristophanes – a tale of women of Greece who determined to withhold sex as a way to end the lengthy Pelopo
Mar 15, 2011 added it
Shelves: fiction
I liked the details Wolitzer used to describe her characters (I perked up whenever the picky and prickly Abby Means, she of the thrift store skirts and pornography-filled phone, showed up), but their lack of depth and, for the most part, drive, made this book a real drag to get through. The fairy-tale-ish, wishy-washy tone, coupled with the one-dimensional characters, was frustrating to me, because the book didn't seem grounded in reality. I don't mind magical realism at all, and in fact enjoy i ...more
Erika Hope Spencer
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
It's become clear to me that I appreciate an author who is able to portray characters in an intimate, unpolished and relatable way and I happen to think Wolitzer excels at this. You can pick at her heavy-handed plot development which certainly will not have you confused as to what is going on or where it is headed-but I don't mind that because it makes it an effortless read. She has a good handle on (at least in my opinion) teen lingo and the age of electronics and, as she says, all things "fast ...more
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Meg Wolitzer has a way of packing intelligence and humor into every sentence. I have to admit, I'm a longtime fan. Follow the citizens of the suburban town of Stellar Plains, New Jersey, as they stumble through the "dilemma" of their uncoupling. The pace is relentless. Wolitzer dives into her subject by writing full, deep characters. I felt like they were all my new best friends. You'll laugh, think, and notice -- through her laser sharp eye -- the absurd details of modern life, as if you were w ...more
Gayla Bassham
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
This novel was readable, but the author's humorous, somewhat cynical distance from her characters kept me at a distance too. But there is some good writing there. The scenes of teenage Willa and her first boyfriend were poignant and evocative of my own teen insecurities. Bev's hurt at her husband's callous statement about her weight was also well done. Unfortunately, the main characters, Dory (?) and Rob, rang the least true. They had almost no personalities except to be nice, if somewhat judgme ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Once upon a time... On a dark and stormy night…wait--there was no storm. Long ago and far away…but, it was only a few years ago, and not far if you live in suburban New Jersey. So, one dark and December night in the safe and tidy suburb of Stellar Plains, New Jersey, an arctic chill seeped under doors, a frigid blast blew through windows, and a glacial nipping swirled between the sheets of spouses and lovers. And, just as suddenly, the woman turned from their men, and stopped having sex.

A spell
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When a famous feminist author came to Reed College in the late 1970s, the men of Reed College learned that among her teachings was the notion that "hetero-sex is violence", and it was clear that some of our dreams for our sophomore year were not going to come true. Texts matter, and when, in Meg Wolitzer's "The Uncoupling", a high school drama teacher decides to stage Aristophane's Lysistrata, in which women of ancient Greece stage a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian war, we are once again in ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Emily by: People Magazine
I really want to like this book. I read it in just 3 days, so I guess that says something. But I didn't love it. I didn't find any of the characters compelling or particularly likeable (not that that's a problem for me: on the contrary, I love unlikeable characters. Case in point: The Descendants). Willa? Eh. The Dorys? Annoying. Bev? She's fat. Waah. Leanne? Wow she sleeps around what a whore. Nothing new here. The only character I liked a little bit was Ruth Winik, the ex-lesbian of sorts. But ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer is an examination of love, sex, and relationships, and while the majority of the novel is planted in reality, there are aspects of magic and mysticism which make the book what it is. The writing is astute and well realized, and the characters are distinct and authentic. However, perhaps the plot is too meandering, therefore feeling slow. Ultimately I think this novel suffered from a case of "Thoughtful and well written, but with nothing actually happening." I en
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Even though I have not yet read the Lysistrata, I have trouble resisting literature about literature, especially when the premise sounds so incredibly fascinating. The Uncoupling focuses primarily on the spell's effects upon one family, Dory, Robby and Willa Lang. Dory and Robby, in their early forties, seem to have the perfect married relationship, still keeping their sex life going and pleasurable. That is until the day the spell strikes and Dory goes cold. This spell is entirely terrifying, a ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I have at least 2 more Meg Wolitzer books sitting on my bookshelves, Uncoupling is the first I've read by her. Wow! I don't quite know why I haven't read any Wolitzer sooner - if her other books are anything like this one. I like the writing style of the book. It's descriptive without being flowery. It's explanatory without preaching. In short, it's smart. I was trying to compare the style of this book to others, and I kept coming up a bit short. She's sort of like Judy Blume - but not rea ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
When I first started reading The Uncoupling, I was hooked. Wolitzer has a way of painting such vivid scenes just by using the choicest of words or phrases, and she seemed to also be creating such complex characters. I was immediately emotionally vested in Dory and Robby and their marriage, and continued to be pulled in by the rather vast cast of characters. Unfortunately, things then began to fall apart. My biggest disappointment was that, what started out strong went out with a whimper. The boo ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
(This really deserves 3, 3.5 - I will explain).
The Talmud speaks about a time when, because temptation was so strong, leaders prayed that the stirrings of desire would be taken away and allow people to live freely and purely. However, upon the vanishing of the more basic components of the human experience, life as we know it - animal, plant - shriveled up as well. This lesson resonated then, and was called to mind upon reading this work which, like Wolitzer's others, presents an interesting if s
Jul 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
I think Wolitzer had a really hard time reining herself in. I'm working off the assumption that the blunt-eccentric-but-weirdly-wise (also, callous b!tch, but that's another problem) magical drama teacher, Fran Heller, is the author-avatar here. But even taking that as a given, it's difficult to peel back the layers of pretentious metaphors and pseudo-wise musings to figure out what point Heller/Wolitzer wants the reader to walk away with.

There's something she's trying to say about war--I think.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This novel is an odd exploration of female desire and the changes in relationships through time. In a generic town in New Jersey, the production of the high school play Lysistrata, coincides with the enchantment of the women of the town with a spell that saps their desire. The narration is done by an omniscient narrator that is rather foreboding and irritating. The questions posed by the stories about passion and relationships are resonant and disturbing. And yet with that much emotional chaos a ...more
Mihaela B.
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the second book by Meg Wolitzer I've read, after the Interestings, which I liked a lot. Even though The Uncoupling didn't impress me quite as much, I still enjoyed it. I recognised Wolitzer's style, I appreciated the fact that the novel was carefully structured, and I thought the whole idea was ingenious.

Warning: spoilers!

Starting from Aristophanes's ancient comedy, Lysistrata, the author created a web of characters and relationships that were influenced and almost 'puppeteered' by the d
Educating Drew
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
The Short of It

When the mood does not strike!

The Long of It

Set in the midst of a small town, the wind seems to blow in more than just a new drama teacher. Fran Heller, drama teacher extraordinaire chooses the Greek play Lysistrata for her debut. Lysistrata tells the story of women protesting war by withholding sex. Very few question the appropriateness of the play since Heller promises to tone down anything terribly inappropriate. Unfortunately, the play seems to have a ghost like charm on the t
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
A rushed review-actually, the reason I read this is because I was rushing through the library, saw the author's name, vaguely remembered liking The Ten Year Nap, and grabbing it without reading the inside cover to see what it was about. Basically, couples in a town stop having sex with each other. The women suddenly decide that they're done, leaving their husbands/boyfriends bewildered, and in some cases, a little angry. While parts of it were actually quite funny and well-written (one man prett ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not sure why I read this book, as I wasn't particularly fond of the 'Ten Year Nap'. Her characters are all kind of irritating and a stretch to relate to; the concept of the book (what happens when a town goes without sex for a few month) was kind of interesting to me and I thought that the possibilities would be better explored. It would have been better if the spell hit everyone at once; also, the incredible selfishness of the drama teacher was a little tough to swallow at the end - the fac ...more
Shannon Alexander
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Three stars is even a little generous- this book is SUCH a dip in quality from her previous books. The plot is heavy handed -I get it, people stop having sex because the high school is putting on Lysistrata! Every description of the book says so there is no reason to even mention it more than once, and certainly not OVER AND OVER in the book. It's like she forgot who she was writing for, her previous books seemed not to assume the reader was a total idiot. She still writes characters well overal ...more
Robyn Nicoli
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thought I would love this book a lot more than I did. Intriguing premise and well-drawn characters, but none were quite fleshed out (heh) to my satisfaction (sorry). I was irritated by the obviousness of the spell manifesting as 'cold air' (got it: frigidity). And why did these women so apathetically accept their loss of desire, which came on so suddenly and dramatically? More reflection on how the spell affected their feelings about their own bodies and psyches in addition to their romantic r ...more
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I read this book pretty quickly...not because it was so good, but because I couldn't believe that this was really all there was.
Here's a book about women who have a spell cast over them, that forces them to not want to have sex with their husbands, or their boyfriends, and the author simply refuses to delve any deeper then that. She absolutely skims the surface of relationships without sex, and this was an annoyingly quick read because there was nothing to it. This should have been insightful an
Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
The Garden State. A small town. A high school. A new drama teacher. A play. A play regarding women using sexual intimacy during a time of war to prevent unnecessary death. A play that blends into reality.
Couple that with Meg Wolitzer's crafty handle on relationships of all types, across unique situations and/or generations, and you have The Uncoupling.

The story began a little slowly for me, but became quite good, mostly because of Wolitzer's ability to express the complexities of various rela
William Miles
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
I used to consider Meg Wolitzer one of my favorite authors, and I could not wait to begin her newest book. But this one, as well as her previous novel, The Ten-Year Nap, was so disappointing. She always has good dialogue, but the past two books have had too many shifting narratives, and no one central, sympathetic character.
Ayelet Waldman
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
MAN, she's a good writer. ...more
Kate Ringer
Feb 27, 2021 rated it liked it
This is my second time reading this, and it was quite staggering how differently I responded to it at 23 versus 18. I remember thinking it was brilliant, but the writing is so bad that I couldn't enjoy or focus on the ideas of the novel this time.

It is clear that Wolitzer knows very little about teenagers or what it is like to work in a school. Her disdain for her characters is apparent, in that she makes little effort beyond their creation to understand or empathize with them in any way. They a
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED- A book where women lose interest in men [s] 2 19 Jun 21, 2015 07:22AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please fix publication date 3 10 Oct 11, 2014 11:53PM  

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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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