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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake | [Anna Quindlen]

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times best-selling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead - and celebrating it all - as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times best-selling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead - and celebrating it all - as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.

As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using 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. Sometimes I will see a photo of an actress in an unflattering dress or a blouse too young for her or with a heavy-handed makeup job, and I mutter, ‘She must not have any girlfriends.’”

Stuff: “Here’s what it comes down to, really: there is now so much stuff in my head, so many years, so many memories, that it’s taken the place of primacy away from the things in the bedrooms, on the porch. My doctor says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, she doesn’t believe our memories flag because of a drop in estrogen but because of how crowded it is in the drawers of our minds. Between the stuff at work and the stuff at home, the appointments and the news and the gossip and the rest, the past and the present and the plans for the future, the filing cabinets in our heads are not only full, they’re overflowing.”

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. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”

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.”

From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it satisfying and even joyful. Candid, funny, 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.

©2012 Anna Quindlen (P)2012 Random House

What the Critics Say

“A reporter by training, a storyteller at heart, [Quindlen’s] writing is personal, humorous, and thought-provoking.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Quindlen is an astonishingly graceful writer.” (San Francisco Examiner)

“Thank goodness for Anna Quindlen. [She] is smart. And compassionate. And witty. And wise.” (Detroit Free-Press)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (293 )
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  •  
    Sheila A. Dechantal Brainerd, Minnesota 05-12-12
    Sheila A. Dechantal Brainerd, Minnesota 05-12-12
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    "Worth a listen!"

    Bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen now takes a realistic look at her 60th year in this memoir. Within, she talks of the past (growing up, parents, boys, dating, marriage, children..), the present (the importance of friends, not getting so worked up anymore, faith, loss) and the future (decluttering life, enjoying the moments...)

    Anna talks to you in her memoir like she is talking to a friend hashing over the good, the bad, and the ugly while sitting in a sunny chair on her porch sitting ice-cold tea and the sampling of the occasional short bread.

    I have not read a lot of Anna Quindlen. However, I know Anna Quindlen can write, and I know her name as an author upon hearing it.

    While I am no where hear the 60th birthday mark, I was still intrigued by a life memoir by a woman who is known for writing about realistic life opportunities in ways that make you think and care. I knew that writing a non fiction for Anna, would be an honest, even if it was brutally so, look at the life lessons she has carried.

    I for one felt I too would get something out of listening to this book.

    I used to think that surrounding myself with trusting girlfriends was just my own personal way of dealing with so much loss in my life. I like, and need "Go To Girls". Listening to Anna, I am realizing that my need to hang out with my friends is not a unique thing, but really - a girl thing. As Anna points out, as we get older our girlfriends become all the more important to talk about everything, and to talk about nothing. I like that.

    From dating to marrying to children of our own, Anna Quindlen covers all the topics with a matter of fact and confident tone. I enjoyed listening to her life lessons, smiling and laughing at times.

    All in all, this book is not just for nearing or over that 60 years old mark. It is a read for any woman who feels they have lived much, but have more left to do.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D Johannesburg, South Africa 05-21-12
    D Johannesburg, South Africa 05-21-12
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    "Story of our times"
    What made the experience of listening to Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake the most enjoyable?

    I loved it. It is for women of a certain age who have come of age at a particular age. Like Nora Ehpron, Anna Quindlen is trailblazer for those of us who are a few years behind. She talks so frankly about her life and experience as a woman that she talks for us all. There is none of this nonsense that 60 is the new 40. It is about being 60! It is about now. So get over it.


    Which character – as performed by Anna Quindlen – was your favorite?

    Being herself. That is the joy of being who you are right now.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen 05-16-12
    Helen 05-16-12

    running2remake

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    "encouraging, entertaining, and enlightening"

    I totally enjoyed this book! As a woman always trying to figure things out and contemplating aging, I took comfort in Quindlen's queries, quips, and quotents! Aging in all its awesomeness!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne Kehoe Merida, Mexico 05-08-12
    Marianne Kehoe Merida, Mexico 05-08-12

    SunriseDoc

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Introspection in Living Color"
    Any additional comments?

    From a reader who's saved Quindlen's "The Good Enough Mother" in my documents so I can send it to frazzled moms, I treasure her homespun revelations. The author's narration is so clear and heartfelt that we could have been sharing life's milestones over coffee at my kitchen table.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Wylie, TX, United States 05-08-12
    Deborah Wylie, TX, United States 05-08-12

    Traveler

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    "Wise words about Life and daily joy"

    I feel so fortunate to have listened to Anna's words. She reminded me of much that I have done well and badly over the years, how far we've come, and more. I loved hearing about her family and her push push. The book was like listening to a friend re-tell the story of where we have all been in this life journey. Plus... she's funny.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KBVV Austin, TX 05-21-12
    KBVV Austin, TX 05-21-12
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    "Anna Quindlen's writing resonates"
    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a great memoir and includes many facets of a her growth and change as a modern woman. I loved her insights and frank talk. I'm glad she wrote it and read it herself - it rings true.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meryl H. Ruth CUMBERLAND CENTER, MAINE, US 05-07-12
    Meryl H. Ruth CUMBERLAND CENTER, MAINE, US 05-07-12
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    "Lots of Laughs, Plenty of Wisdom"

    A jewel of a book. She could be my best friend or my sister who died of cancer a few years ago, she's someone who feels intensely and shares brilliantly. She makes growing older, growing up a lot easier to contemplate. She suggests making mistakes are worth making. She takes life seriously yet doesn't take herself seriously. I just wish she kept on talking to me. I miss her already. I'd recommend this book to anyone especially those with full lives full of children, relationships, work, and fears about getting older. I hope she writes another memoir when she's eighty.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charleston Reader Charleston, WV 07-03-12
    Charleston Reader Charleston, WV 07-03-12

    Charleston reader

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    "I love Quindlen, but this book is terrible"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Boring, boring, boring. This book is filled with platitudes, minutiae about her life that even a mother would find dull. This is not a thoughtful or thought-provoking book.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Grant Rocky River, OH, US 05-21-12
    Julia Grant Rocky River, OH, US 05-21-12
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    "Truly articulate account of boomer women"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, particularly women or anyone who wants to understand them. In fact, I have recommended it to my children to give them more insight into me, as well as to other women such as my sisters.


    What did you like best about this story?

    These memoirs, read by the author, are well arranged and resonate amazingly with my own experiences as a woman of similar age.


    What about Anna Quindlen???s performance did you like?

    Lovely! Feels like she is talking to you personally.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Really, several. Her discussion of mortality was moving. The way she talks about a relates to her children also hit home.


    Any additional comments?

    I will listen to this again, but, unusually, I will also now go buy the book for handy reference. I hope she follows in the vein of others who have written memoirs, and we will see another when she is 75.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karyn richmond, VA, United States 02-08-13
    karyn richmond, VA, United States 02-08-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If you like Erma Bombeck you'll like this one."

    I really enjoyed this book. Anna Quindlen does a great job reading her own book and sharing her honest and funny stories. Worth the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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