Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

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Buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A witty, insightful and beautifully written look at Quindlen's life and the light it sheds on our own. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Windmill Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099559030

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I first encountered Anna Quindlen when I read Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family. I'm a sucker for non-fiction books about dogs but what struck me was that the book could have been trite. Instead, it was elegant, witty and with a real eye for detail and social nuance. It was genuinely about life with Beau and what the family learned from him rather than - as so many such books are - what the family had done for the dog. The book struck a particular chord with me as our older dog was, we knew, on borrowed time (although her innate stubbornness kept her going for another two years) and Quindlen helped me to think about what Rosie had given us.

And now she's done it again. In Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Quindlen looks at her life, the events and people who have shaped it and acknowledges that she is becoming old, even if she doesn't wish to embrace the word quite yet. (I consider myself 'upper middle-aged' and see no reason to budge.) She sums up what the book is about far better than I can:

It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to ageing adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn't know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I'd invented. And finally, I was what I was again.'

It turned out I wasn't alone in that particular progression'.

Each piece is relatively short - usually about ten or so pages - and they're grouped into four themes which follow a roughly chronological order. Quindlen has a background as a New York Times columnist but these pieces are more akin to essays, in the best sense of the word - that of taking an idea and running with it. Occasionally the musing goes in a direction which you don't expect, as when she suggests small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn't believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation. Neither, it seems would the person who did the renovation. And similarly, she feels that with her friends it's sometimes more important to be nice than to be honest.

I found her most thought-provoking on the subject of faith. My doubt about God has long been that if He existed He would not have burdened us with religion, but Quindlen looks at the subject from a different angle and makes a distinction between the Catholic Church and the men at the top who are failing to run it in a reasonable way.

The paperback is what I think of as a handbag book - I always have something in my handbag which I can read when I'm waiting somewhere. It's engaging enough to take your mind off your Doctor's appointment, but without a continuing storyline which would make leaving it for a while unreasonable. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals I can promise that you will love I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron.

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Buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen at Amazon.com.

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