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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Cover of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
A Memoir of a Woman's Life
Borrow Borrow

“[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR
 
Includes an exclusive conversation between Meryl Streep and Anna Quindlen!
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about
 
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
 
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”
 
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”
 
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
 
Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.
 
“Classic Quindlen, at times witty, at times wise, and always of her time.”—The Miami Herald
 
“[A] pithy, get-real memoir.”—Booklist

“[Quindlen] serves up generous portions of her wise, commonsensical, irresistibly quotable take on life. . . . What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.”—NPR
 
Includes an exclusive conversation between Meryl Streep and Anna Quindlen!
In this irresistible memoir, Anna Quindlen writes about a woman’s life, from childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, using the events of her life to illuminate ours. Considering—and celebrating—everything from marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, parenting, faith, loss, to all the stuff in our closets, and more, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen uses her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages. Quindlen talks about
 
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
 
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. ”
 
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come.”
 
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
 
Candid, funny, and moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.
 
“Classic Quindlen, at times witty, at times wise, and always of her time.”—The Miami Herald
 
“[A] pithy, get-real memoir.”—Booklist

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Excerpts-
  • From the book Stuff
     
     
    Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.
     
    —JOHN RANDOLPH,
    colonial member of Congress
     
    I have a lot of stuff. I bet you do, too. Sofas, settees, bureaus, bookshelves. Dishes, bowls, pottery, glass, candlesticks, serving trays, paperweights. Beds, chests, trunks, tables. Windsor chairs, club chairs, ladder- back chairs, folding chairs, wicker chairs. Lots and lots of chairs.
     
    I have needlepoint pillows everywhere: camels, chickens, cats, houses, barns, libraries, roses, daisies, pansies. I needlepoint while I watch television. I have a vision of my children, after I’m gone, looking around and saying, “What are we going to do with all these pillows?” I don’t mind. My best friend, Janet, has more pillows than I do, and more platters, too. Once I bought some plates and knew instantly that she would love them. “Where did you get those?” she asked, and I lied to her and then bought some for her birthday.
     
    “Did she need more plates?” asked my husband, whose idea of need is different from my own.
     
    In the city I have lots of stuff on the walls. Modern art, traditional art, landscapes, photographic prints. Eclectic. In the country I have samplers. THE BLESSING OF THE HOME IS CONTENTMENT. THIS IS OUR HOUSE / THE DOOR OPENS WIDE / AND WELCOMES YOU / TO ALL INSIDE. I have a large piece of framed embroidery that shows a woman with bobbed hair and an apron holding a tray with a tea service. A GOOD HOUSEWIFE MAKES A GOOD HOME, this one says. Lots of people who come to our house, knowing my politics, think it’s ironic.
     
    It’s not ironic.
     
    I didn’t have all this stuff when I was young and single. None of us did. It was a big deal to have blinds and coffee mugs. Many of the guys I knew didn’t; they’d tack a sheet over the bedroom window, drink from Styrofoam. My first apartment was pretty typical; I had a small uncomfortable sleeper sofa, a bentwood rocker, a coffee table that was actually a trunk—didn’t everyone in 1976?—and a set of bookshelves. I was proud of those bookshelves. Many of my friends still used plastic egg crates, or plywood and cinder blocks.
     
    In the bedroom I had a chest of drawers and a desk that was too low for an adult, at which I would hunch over my old manual Smith Corona typewriter, my knees contorted beneath. I had swapped the twin bed of my girlhood for a double bed, which children nowadays, raised on queen-size beds from seventh grade, the first generation of middle-class kids who trade down when they arrive in college dorms, can scarcely imagine. I was proud of that double bed. Many of my friends had futons.
     
    That was more or less it. My stuff then would all fit in the back of one U-Haul, and not the big one, either. None of us used movers when we changed apartments, just called around and got a group together for pizza and beer and haulage. A lot of stuff wound up on the sidewalk for the sanitation truck.
     
    But then we got married and we got carafes, chafing dishes, and china. We bought matching love seats for the living room in the row house that had once been a rooming house. (“Your grandfather worked hard all his life so his grandchildren wouldn’t have to live in a place like this,” my father said, sitting on the stoop, but he still lent us money for the renovation.) I trawled junk shops for oak furniture too old to be new but too young to be antique. I had a brief flirtation with Fiesta ware and Roseville pottery, never met a big old...
About the Author-
  • Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear. She is the author of six novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, and Every Last One.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 2, 2012
    Weary, battle-hardened reflections on growing older infuse this latest collection of essays by novelist and former New York Times columnist Quindlen (Every Last One). Having chimed in copiously in previous memoirs on now familiar talking points such as raising children, finding life’s balance as a working mother, achieving marital harmony and doling out feminist lessons to three grown children, Quindlen has found one nut to polish in a gratifying sense of survival on her own terms. Now in her late 50s, having lived much longer than her mother, who died when Quindlen was 19, the author finds herself shocked to hear herself referred to as elderly, and no longer troubled by the realization that her sense of control over events is illusory. In essays such as “Generations” and “Expectations,” she is careful to pay homage to the women like her mother who grew up before the women’s movement and thus had fewer choices. Yet Quindlen sees much work still to be done, especially in breaking glass ceilings and in assumptions about women’s looks—including her own. Cocooned in her comfortable lifestyle between a New York City apartment and her country house, surrounded by accumulated “stuff” that is beginning to feel stifling, certain of her marriage-until-death and support of her BFFs, Quindlen holds for the most part a blithe, benign view of growing older. Yet in moments when she dares to peer deeper, such as at her Catholic faith or within the chasm of solitude left by children having left home, she bats away her platitudinous reassurances and approaches a near-searing honesty.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2012
    A humorous, sage memoir from the Pulitzer winner and acclaimed novelist. Like having an older, wiser sister or favorite aunt over for a cup of tea, Quindlen's (Every Last One, 2010, etc.) latest book is full of the counsel and ruminations many of us wish we could learn young. The death of her mother from cancer when she was 19 had a profound effect on the author, instilling in her the certainty that "life was short, and therefore it made [her] both driven and joyful" and happy to have "the privilege of aging." In her sincere and amusing style, the author reflects on feminism, raising her children, marriage and menopause. She muses on the perception of youth and her own changing body image--one of the "greatest gifts [for women] of growing older is trusting your own sense of yourself." Having women friends, writes Quindlen, is important for women of all ages, for they are "what we have in addition to, or in lieu of, therapists. And when we reach a certain age, they may be who is left." More threads on which the author meditates in this purposeful book: childbirth, gender issues, the joy of solitude, the difference between being alone and being lonely, retirement and religion. For her, "one of the greatest glories of growing older is the willingness to ask why, and getting no good answer, deciding to follow my own inclinations and desires. Asking why is the way to wisdom." A graceful look at growing older from a wise and accomplished writer--sure to appeal to her many fans, women over 50 and readers of Nora Ephron and similar authors.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2011

    Before she published six best-selling novels (e.g., Every Last One); wrote her million-copy best seller, A Short Guide to the Happy Life; and won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column "Public and Private," Quindlen attracted eager readers with her Times column "Life in the 30s." Now she's in her fifties and ready to talk about women's lives as a whole. With an eight-city tour and lots of promotion.

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2012
    Suddenly sixty, Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prizewinning columnist and best-selling novelist (Every Last One, 2010), finds herself looking back on her life. She's not so much wondering how she got where she is but, rather, considering how the choices she made and the chances she took along the way have prepared her for the road ahead. What even to call this next stage in a woman's life? Not elderly, certainly, yet definitely no longer young, this middle-aged morass can be hard to navigate. Friendships fade, fashions flummox, the body wimps out, and the mind has a mind of its own. One can either fight it or face it. In her own unmistakably reasonable way, Quindlen manages to do both, with grace and agility, wisdom and wit, sending out comforting affirmations while ardently confronting preconceived stereotypes and societal demands. Having endeared herself to generations of women, beginning with her eminently distinctive and intuitively perceptive Life in the 30s column, Quindlen now brings her considered and accepted voice of reflection and evaluation to the challenges and opportunities that await. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: After writing a string of immensely popular novels, trusted, high-profile Quindlen will delight her steadfast readers with this pithy, get-real memoir slated for an energetic, all-fronts promotion campaign.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

  • Detroit Free-Press "Thank goodness for Anna Quindlen. [She] is smart. And compassionate. And witty. And wise."
  • The New York Times "[Quindlen is] America's resident sane person."
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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
A Memoir of a Woman's Life
Anna Quindlen
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