THE FEMALE PERSUASION: How Far Have We Come, Baby?

The Female Persuasion

By: Meg Wolitzer
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
PRHA: Imprint: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Women
Release Date: April 03, 2018
15 Hours
 I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

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.


My Take Oblong Shaped


The narration for this book was fantastic emoting not so much through the characters voices as through what feels like the narrators emotional response to the story.

And the story is one of many elements with which at least one will resonate with every woman.  While a novel primarily based in the women’s movement, Wolitzer’s book includes the stories of both a young man and an older man.  The ways these men react to their lives are partly based in personality, but also in the times in which they are raised.  The “Mad Men” era male character is power hungry and values power and money over love.  He treats women as a commodity. The post-feminist male, Greer’s boyfriend, is a somewhat more sensitive guy. He’s considerate of the underclasses because those are his roots. And, from an early age treats Greer with respect and shows emotion. But, when it seems like he is getting ahead and maturing quickly, it is just possible that society makes it easy for men to stay boys and just act like adult males.  I felt the older, more famous characters in the story really were famous people we all know, but I think they were just drawn to give that impression, and are drawn really well.

Not all the men in Greer’s life are so thoughtful.  For me the book first resonated in Greer’s encounter with a bellicose male who assaults women all over  campus.  Most women meet an inappropriate male. The interesting point here is that, at first, Greer doubts herself and her experience.

But that experience, indeed getting to attend the second-rate college, brings her the encounter that will change her life. And, cements a relationship with a new friend too.

This is the story of what happens to women everyday in the world of academics and the labor force in a world and country where women still make less than men for the same job, were sexual women are slut shamed, and where powerful women are “nasty.” And, in a world where our rights to self-determination are always under threat.

We have come a long way, but as with the civil rights movement, we still, as the song says, have a long way to go.

It’s a timely tale, with women revealing their instances of assault, harassment and mistreatment across the boards.  And, finally, something seems to be happening.

As a woman who came of age in the 1970s, and supported the ERA, feminism seems like a no-brainer to me.  The movement was very important in how my psyche was formed. And, if this book is realistic, it is still important to women.  So, why are our rights and needs still under attack.

While I felt the story jumped around a lot there’s always a reason that furthers the plot. But the head-hopping was occasionally distracting.

While some aspects of the novel were predictable, and telegraphed, the story held a lot of twists and the events lead to both character and plot development. I liked how teens understanding of their parents is challenged by their adult selves.

Different aspects of loss are looked at as well: at first Greer seems really whiny, and is angry with her parents over their failure to fill out the financial aid forms for college. This results in her attending a second-rate school. As an adult though she and her boyfriend face a serious loss that really puts hers in context. The experiences also point to the randomness of life, for at that school she meets her best friend Z and her mentor, feminist author, Faith Frank. And it also looks at the fallibility of mentors and other people important to us.

This is a thoughtful book that develops along with the characters.  So, at first it feels like the dumb angst of the first-year college student, and that almost put me off. But, the experiences Greer has in that first year were a siren song that pulled me into the story.



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