Tuesday , May 21 2024
In all modesty, Anna Quindlen has nothing to be modest about.

Book Review: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

In all modesty, Anna Quindlen has nothing to be modest about.

She is the author of several stunning best-sellers, enjoyed a long career as a New York Times columnist, then Newsweek, and is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Today, having also successfully raised three children, Quindlen says she is okay with who she is because she looks at photos of herself and sees not the aging of her face but the story of her life

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is a truthful and open memoir about life’s changes. She reminds us of the phases in life we’ve enjoyed, fretted over, or bungled, wishing for a do-over. Through her grace and confidence, though, we are reminded, as she says: “We really don’t have any idea of how we ought to look any more, just how we’re told we ought to look.” As she now sees shadows of her younger self in her daughter, she learns to embrace the fact that she is not that young person anymore, but is glad to leave behind youth’s surface errands and internal battles.

Quindlen built her life around her children, writing only when they were in school, and was not not a parent who micromanaged their lives. In managing her career and family through the women’s movement, we are reminded that it was preceded by an era when most women who had never worked for pay. Yet she notes that even the venerable New York Times is now headed by a woman.

Quindlen is a role model for women, in business, in journalism, and in life. Balancing work and family obligations, she never strays far from her ideals. 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. Yet she also leaves us with a lingering awareness that we must find our own path, and pay attention to all of life’s twists and turns because it passes so fast.

Like Quindlen, we all have a lot less to our future than to our past. So thank your mother for her devotion, and share a copy of Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake with someone you love.

About Helen Gallagher

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