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Book Review

June 28, 2012
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‘Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake’

Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Barb Palar

By Anna Quindlen

Random House



208 pp

For more than 25 years, Anna Quindlen has been provoking readers — who can relate to her glib insights to the everydayness of a woman’s life — to tell her, “You make me feel like I’m not alone.” Her memoir, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” should fill her mailbox for years to come. Quindlen has dabbled in fiction but her Pulitzer-winning New York Times columns and other nonfiction work are what endear her to readers.

“First we were young and then we were so busy and then one day we awoke to discover that we were at an age we once thought of as old,” she muses.

Hopefully for Quindlen, who just turned 60, this is not a final memoir, but she writes from a perspective of reality; her mother died when she was in her 40s. She has fond memories of her mother, and wishes that her own parenting style could have come so naturally and without the exterior pressures that motherhood brings today.
“When I was young my mother spent a lot of time on my hair. Although I spent hours complaining, wriggling in a dining room chair, sometimes sitting on a phone book or two, deep down I liked it.”

But she also heeded her mother’s warnings about hair coloring.

“When she talked about hair coloring, my mother made it sound like communism. It wasn’t until she was too ill to do it herself that I found out her ebony color was courtesy of Clairol’s Nice ‘n Easy.”

But deeper reflections on aging bring her to the theme of the book; maybe it’s not so bad.

“If you push people a little harder, ask them what’s so terrible about getting older, almost everyone gets past the plantar fasciitis and the crepey neck and winds up admitting that they’re happier now than when they were young.”

Wisdom for the ages, again. CV

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