*'Furious and addictive' New York Times
*'Urgent, deeply moving, wholly original' GEORGE SAUNDERS
*'A dazzling lightning bolt of a novel' JENNY OFFILL
*'Fiercely funny and deliciously subversive' YIYUN LI
*A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
*Selected as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus
*Chosen as a best book of the year by Joshua Ferris in the Observer
Just as it seems she has it all, Samantha Raymond's life begins to come apart: Trump has been elected, her mother is ill and her teenage daughter is increasingly remote. At fifty-two she finds herself staring into 'the Mids' - night-time hours of supreme wakefulness where women of a certain age contemplate their lives. For Sam, this means motherhood, mortality, and the state of an unravelling nation.
When Sam falls in love with a beautiful, decrepit house on the wrong side of town, she buys it on a whim and flees her suburban life - and her family - in an attempt to find beauty in the ruins.
'Exhilarating. . . A virtuosic, singular and very funny portrait of a woman seeking sanity and purpose in a world gone mad' New York Times Book Review
'What begins as a vertiginous leap into hilarious rabbit holes ends as a brilliant meditation on mortality and time. How does she do it? Only Dana Spiotta knows. I'm just happy to see her work her magic' Jenny Offill
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 22 members
Middle-aged women are a group all too often overlooked by most elements of today's media. This excellent novel exploring the travails of fifty something, perimenopausal Sam after she walks out on her husband and teenage daughter and sets up home elsewhere at least partly redresses the balance.
Why has Sam moved out? What part did the election of Donald Trump play in her decision? Will she ever return to her husband? Can she trust her new friends? Who is behind the strange messages she keeps receiving?
This is a thoroughly readable and very well-written book.
This book was unlike anything I have read before, it was laugh out loud funny and emotive, in places it really moved me. I couldnt put it down I really enjoyed it.
Wayward is a book that will speak to many, many middle-aged, middle-class women who do not see themselves as fitting the stereotypes. It's a book about the frustration and anger of being 'invisible' and 'voiceless'.
Why oh why are publishers not publishing more books about and for middle-aged women? There are enough of us around! And we're getting tired of having to all intents and purposes disappeared off the face of the earth once our looks went and our waistlines thickened and our kids grew up and left.
This is a feminist book, in the 'original' meaning of feminist, not whatever reactionary nonsense is being spouted around that term these days. And as such, I think readers who are not in a similar demographic to the protagonist might not really get this novel and its underlying messages.
So I think it's a marmite book that will inspire both love and loathing, depending on the reader's perspective. I really appreciated the portraits of different 'wayward' women, from Clara Loomis, to Sam's mother, Sam herself and her daughter. How they are/were each trying to be themselves while under the threat of male violence, which in Sam's case is an invisible, looming threat represented by the election of Donald Trump.
I also think it's telling that the only actual serious violence that occurs is when a young, innocent Black man is shot by a white, female police officer, and Sam's attempts to be heard, to speak up on his behalf.
No doubt some readers will interpret this as a voice of white privilege and be disgusted at someone appealing for anything like sympathy for someone like Sam, a well-off white woman who is not at all invisible or voiceless compared to many other people. But I think this is missing the point. There are many ways to be silenced in the world we live in, many ways to be compartmentalised and ignored. It's unhelpful to propose that some are more silenced than others. To exclude some people from being deemed worthy of empathy because they are not within the right category of oppression. Exclusive, inclusive.... As James Thurber once said, "You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards."
Samantha Raymond cannot say what it was exactly that lead her to buy a house and to move out of the suburban comfort zone with her husband Matt and their teenage daughter Ally. Maybe Trump’s election, maybe the feeling of menopause hitting her or just the fact that she spends her nights awake pondering about her life and all that is connected to it: motherhood, mortality and the country she lives in. Via the Internet, she connects with some radical women whose notions are new to her. But sorting out her new life also means getting more and more away from her old life and her daughter. Has she ever been a good mom? Didn’t she do all that was necessary to bring Ally up? And what did she use her one life for actually?
In her novel “Wayward”, Dana Spiotta portrays a woman at a crucial point of her life. She made some decisions that now come under scrutiny. It is not only the outer, visible elements of her life but much more her inner convictions that have to stand the test. Her first move sets in motion a chain of events that bring her further away from all she has known for so many years and it remains to be seen where this will lead her.
What I liked most was the combination of metaphors the author uses. The old house that Sam finds and is attracted to immediately mirrors her body. Just like the cosy new home, life also has left traces on her body. Just like she renovates the house, she starts to train to get stronger. However, all the renovation cannot hide that the years have left their marks on it and some things simply cannot be redone.
Just as she analyses her complicated relationship with her own mother and also with her daughter, she analyses the state the country is in. The opposing parts become obvious through the segregation between the white and better-off parts of town and her new place which is quite the opposite. Coming from a protected life, she is now confronted with crime which has always been a reality for other parts of society, but not the suburban housewives she has known for so long.
The novel has a clear feminist perspective. Sam volunteers at a small museum that was the home of a 19th century feminist who ignored societal constraints and followed her ideals, also Sam’s mother is an independent woman, whereas she herself had given in to a life that she now is running from. Her daughter also tries to rebel against Sam’s life choices and wants to free herself - in her very own way. All women make choices that have consequences, all woman have to decide between conformity and rebellion, they want their life to be meaningful – but what does that mean and what is the price for it?
An interesting read from a point of view that is slowly expanded to show the bigger picture.
This is the first book my Dana Spiotta I've read but it absolutely isn't going to be my last. I adore her easy, subversive style and I flew through Wayward with a smile on my face. Our protagonist, Samantha, has just begun to relax into the joy of 'having it all' when a triad of terrible events bring her back to reality: she has to cope with a distant daughter, an ailing parent and, the cherry on top, the election of Donald Trump. After falling in love with a ramshackle house, Samantha decides to say goodbye to her life and take a chance on renovating a property she attempts to love back to life. Chaos, warmth and a lot of soul-searching ensues in this touching, darkly funny novel that I can't wait for readers to fall in love with.
A huge thank you to the publisher for this early review copy!
I really enjoyed this. An unusual perspective and a great piece of writing. Sam's life was a complicated one and she's a bit lost. Great representation of an underrepresented female age group. Ally is also interesting with her own quirks. Found their relationship intriguing.
One incident is particularly striking and stuns.
Lots to think about.