I'm feeling way too lazy to write a review, and this convo pretty much sums it up for me. Special thanks to Lenore for being my review muse.
In the end, it was a good story. Unfortunately, it was overplayed by characters who all had mommy and daddy issues. It turned feminism into a joke which is rather unfortunate because it's fodder for the MRA types out there. It makes me sad because I have really liked reading Franzen in the past and I love a good family story rife with secrets and betrayal. However, I found myself sometimes cringing and simply not enjoying it. I did find myself noting several lines, if for no other reason than to remember why this experience was not so great. Here are a few samples.
...her fantasy of being a loving mother, her resentment at the bother of it. OH SNAP!
I don't get it lines
...he was bald and precancerously gray. ah, what does that mean?
Women are catty bitches lines...
A wicked little dictum of Leila's: Blondes don't age well. Leila saw middle age as the revenge of the Brunettes. MEOW!
Lines where the author is afraid of saying the word vagina...
...she trimmed her personal hair for him with a razor.Is this personal hair in the same area where you use a personal massager?
Lines with the overused wooden spoon simile
...like she had her skull opened up and her brains given a vigorous stir with a wooden spoon. this mindfucking wooden spoon shows up at least 10 more times and frankly got a bit tiresome.
Apparently this author (RIP) didn't think plot was terribly important. His writing was lovely and sometimes evocative, but nothing happened. I stuck with it for about 200 pages, and was curious enough to go discuss it at book club. Apparently it wasn't just me and I gladly dropped the unfinished book into the return bin on my way out of the library.