Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

86%

20 Critic Reviews

The book is a cozy feedback loop, the perfect comfort food for its enormous demographic...It doesn't matter whether it's Tuna Helper or cassoulet — it's always about the sharing.
-LA Times

Synopsis

INCLUDING AN EXCLUSIVE CONVERSATION BETWEEN MERYL STREEP AND ANNA QUINDLEN

“[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
 
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
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

 

About Anna Quindlen

See more books from this Author
ANNA QUINDLEN is the author of three bestselling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing, and Black and Blue. Her New York Times column “Public & Private” won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and a selection of those columns was published as Thinking Out Loud. She is also the author of a collection of her “Life in the 30’s”columns, Living Out Loud; a book for the Library of Contemporary Thought, How Reading Changed My Life; the bestselling A Short Guide to a Happy Life; and two children’s books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and lives with her husband and children in New York City.From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Published April 24, 2012 by Random House. 226 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships, Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 13 2012
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Critic reviews for Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
All: 20 | Positive: 17 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 01 2012

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.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Apr 02 2012

Quindlen holds for the most part a blithe, benign view of growing older. Yet in moments when she dares to peer deeper...she bats away her platitudinous reassurances and approaches a near-searing honesty.

Read Full Review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Judith Newman on Jun 01 2012

And therein lies the problem for those of us who have loved Quindlen but at this point are a bit exasperated: her verities, while deeply soothing, aren’t always entirely believable.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Apr 24 2012

What Nora Ephron does for body image and Anne Lamott for spiritual neuroses, Quindlen achieves on the home front.

Read Full Review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake | See more reviews from NPR

LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Pat Morrison on Jul 09 2012

The book is a cozy feedback loop, the perfect comfort food for its enormous demographic...It doesn't matter whether it's Tuna Helper or cassoulet — it's always about the sharing.

Read Full Review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake | See more reviews from LA Times

Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Meganne Febrega on Apr 20 2012

She calmly and carefully untangles the fine strands of a woman's life by examining her own, and lays them out cleanly for all to see, this time from the perspective of a woman in her 50s.

Read Full Review of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake | See more reviews from Star Tribune

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Apr 24 2012

Where “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” succeeds is in Quindlen’s warm yet pithy discussions about feminism, aging, the uselessness of stuff and the importance of girlfriends...

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Huffington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Rowley on Apr 25 2012

Quindlen masterfully and beautifully sums up the best parts of aging: thoroughly knowing yourself, truly not caring what others think, and enjoying the confidence and courage that come with decades of practicing life...

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Ellen Boyers Kwatnoski

...Quindlen, soon to turn 60, is at the top of her game. Her insight is razor sharp, but her observations are also kind, both to others and herself.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by Maria Russo on May 05 2012

...despite its title it can’t seem to help striking deep chords of loss. Quindlen seems to have lost the confident pop in her voice, the instinctive feel for that adoring audience.

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Macleans

Excellent
Reviewed by Cathy Gulli on May 17 2012

...Quindlen crafts a witty and poignant homage to lessons learned and experiences gained—and even better, she offers a toast to the future.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Karen Campbell on Apr 28 2012

The book has a satisfying arc, ending with chapters on the trauma of retirement...and musings on mortality, at which point Quindlen’s writing becomes movingly poetic.

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Seattle PI

Excellent
Reviewed by Lidia de Leon on Jun 17 2012

Quindlen...infuses her recollections as a baby-boomer facing late middle age with relentless optimism-and humor.

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Seattle PI

Excellent
Reviewed by Helen Galagher on Apr 09 2012

Like her long journalism career, and as an author and in-demand speaker, Quindlen's simple narrative essays tell a story that resonates with women across generations.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Jann Malone on May 13 2012

She hasn't lost that touch. In her memoir "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake," she is still writing our lives.

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Vibrant Nation

Excellent
Reviewed by Lesa Holstine on Apr 26 2012

And each essay in her book illustrates the experience and self-acceptance that only comes with age.

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Her Circle Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate Robinson on Apr 01 2012

Quindlen’s writing is honest and revealing...a memoir with appeal for those who have lots of candles on their own cakes, as well as for women embarking on adult lives.

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Seven Ponds

Excellent
Reviewed by Katie Ryan on Jul 13 2012

...this book suggests it doesn’t require experience or wisdom to recognize the privilege it is to be living this life, experiencing this moment.

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Beth Fish Reads

Good
Reviewed by Beth Fish on Apr 23 2012

What Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake really is, however, is a collection of musings, observations, and opinions of a smart, vibrant woman who generously lets us in on her thoughts.

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A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore...

Below average
Reviewed by Katherine on May 01 2012

Her prose is very honest, although she tends to be a bit smug about her generation (and a little bit disparaging about those who came before and those who come after), and some of her viewpoints are a little contradictory.

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Reader Rating for Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
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