The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer tackles the evolution of contemporary feminism through the experiences of fictional 20-something Greer and 60-something Faith Frank. It’s a riff on the old theme of A Star is Born where the veteran is overtaken by her protégé. We’re introduced to Greer as a young girl being raised by seemingly indifferent parents. Her neighbour Cory becomes her best friend, lover and hoped-for life partner. Both Greer and Cory are gifted students with great futures predicted for them both at high-end ivy-league universities. Cory successfully qualifies for a scholarship and attends Princeton while Greer grudgingly attends a lower echelon college because her parents couldn’t master the scholarship application forms.
During her first year of college, at the urging of a friend, Greer attends a presentation by a famous early feminist, Faith Frank. During a post-speech encounter in the ladies room, Greer scores a business card from empathetic and powerful Frank which Greer uses when she graduates to land a job at Faith Frank’s feminist foundation. In the meantime, after graduating from Princeton, boyfriend Cory’s career in business takes him to Manilla. During his overseas assignment, Cory receives devastating news that results in his returning home to take care of his mother. Complications naturally arise and the characters’ career trajectories are diverted. As Greer and Cory’s individual lives evolve, their personal relationship evaporates.
There are many reasons I looked forward to reading The Female Persuasion:
- I enjoyed Wolitzer’s earlier book, The Interestings.
- The plot focuses on the evolution of feminism, an issue of deep interest to me.
- When I saw the author interviewed on The Social I was impressed with her intelligence and powers of observation.
- The book is a New York Times best-seller and film rights have been optioned by Nicole Kidman.
However, just because all these criteria come together in The Female Persuasion it doesn’t necessarily mean I loved the book. I found the plot to be a tad cliché and the story didn’t keep me strongly engaged. It’s only because the book was a best-seller and I held out hope that it would get better that I kept going. Parts of it were crushingly boring and could have used further editing. I’d call it light reading and more about love and romance than feminism. I disagree with New York Times’ readers. I’d be interested in knowing what you think. Rating: 5 out of 10.