“I want to be able to walk through the house of my own life until my life is done.”

In the concluding chapter of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Quindlen shares this kernel of her truth, her wish, as she wraps up this wonderful memoir about living in these historic times.

Moving from stories of childhood to growing older, the reader can find something that resonates, especially if the reader is someone past a certain age. But even younger individuals can find moments to identify with.

I really enjoyed this excerpt: “My memory, too, has become a strange shape shifter, playing hide and seek with the obvious. I lose a number or a name for fifteen or twenty minutes and then it returns, so indelible that I can’t quite understand how it was ever gone. Word retrieval is a bit of a challenge, which would be less important if I didn’t have to build a house of sentences almost every day.”

And then there is the conversation about motherhood: “We live in a perfection society now, and nowhere has that become more powerful–and more pernicious–than in the phenomenon of manic motherhood. What the child-care guru D. W. Winnicott once called `the ordinary devoted mother’ is no longer enough. Instead there is the over-scheduled mom who bounces from soccer field to school fair to music lessons until she falls into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, her life somewhere between the Stations of the Cross and a decathlon.”

And finally, this sums up a good deal of the lifetime of women known as “baby boomers.”

“The great hallmark of my life, my generation, my time, has been choice. We’ve been a wandering breed, we Americans straddling the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, changing jobs, changing homes, changing spouses, religions, political parties. We’ve had more options than any generation before us, to marry those of different races or religions, to marry those of our own sex, to not marry at all but live together without legal obligation or live without a lifelong partner.”

Quindlen’s thought-provoking tale definitely pierced my consciousness and reminded me of many of the issues with which I’ve struggled over the years. And also made me smile as I recognized myself and those I’ve known in the scenarios described. Recommended reading for women who want to feel the validation that comes from enjoying the words of a kindred spirit. Five stars.


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