In The Ten-Year Nap (Riverhead), four 40-ish New York women abandon their careers to raise their children. Feminist battles are mostly won. These moms reap the benefits. Or do they?
Amy leaves the practice of law to take care of Mason. Roberta's creativity is relegated to papier-mâchè projects on the kitchen table. Prizewinning Jill moves to the suburbs, isolates herself, and frets about Nadia. Anomie and malaise are palpable. Only Karen can afford the Upper East Side private school life on one income. At night in bed she turns to Wilson, her beloved banking whiz. They take turns reciting prime number sequences.
Meg Wolitzer's prose is brisk and moving. My favorite moment may be a literary first: Leo frets he is sexually unattractive to his wife because he's put on weight.
Scrapping a career to raise kids is every bit as hard as being away from them 9 to 5. These are good mothers; they give it everything they've got. But there is no having it all. Whatever you opt for, something gets cheated. That's what's known as the human condition. The ultimate peril is motherhood, loving someone more than you love yourself. Meg Wolitzer nails it with tenderness and wit.