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I just could not wait to read Lots of Candles and Plenty of Cake and pre-ordered it for my KINDLE. Anna Quindlen is an author that I enjoy reading very much although when she was doing her parenting columns I was still reading Erma Bombeck.

This book has a number of humorous interludes but Lots of Candles and Plenty Cake is more about embracing turning 60 and finding lots to love about living.  There is an element of memoir to this book of essays also.

“Get yourself a personal trainer.”

Her hindsight about the early parenting years and how generations have survived, coped and figured it out is a rather astute analysis of how we made it through the tough times and the loneliness and yet truly enjoyed our choices and taking on those tasks.   Being there for our children, working and trying desperately to not lose the sense of self that made us who we are section was full of wonderful and creative examples of how the women of a certain age coped with the expectations of doing it all.

“ …we didn’t want to admit that trying to balance a couple of challenging full-time jobs was kind of a stretch. We were all a little crazy and a little sad and a little confused.  And we all thought it was just us.  That’s what makes life so hard for women, that instead of thinking that this is the way things are, we always think it’s the way we are.”

Lots of Candles and Plenty of Cake does not skip over the worries about heath and finances and how to plan for the unknown.  I just felt a sense of release when Quindlen discussed the Resume Gap because I truly thought I was rather alone in this problem; having spent too much time out of the even half time work force/career to be taken seriously by anyone.   It was a bit hit and run because that is not the author’s experience and yet it was not ignored.

“The most liberated generation of women in American history, raised on the notion that they could be much more than caregivers, became caregivers cubed.”

Quindlen definitely hits the mark when she talks about health and working at it while enjoying just who you are.  After the discussion of the foot pain, new glasses, and blood pressure medications none of the women in her circle would change who they are now and consider this stage the best they have experienced.  There were no votes for do-overs even though they now understood parenting and working and balance – oh yes, that advice we are always trying to share!

“They can’t hear it because it’s in a different language, a language we learn over time, the language of experience cut with failure, triumph, and tedium.”

I think if I write any more, I will need to copy and post this entire book.  I cannot recommend it highly enough and I hope every woman I know will find themselves with a copy in hand and a smile on their face.  I am going to read it again right away – it gave me so much pleasure and some fresh wisdom to just enjoy.

No one paid for this review and I did not receive a copy of this book; I purchased it for my library.

Anna Quindlen’s web page

Do you have a book of wisdom that just delights you and speaks to you like this group of essays spoke to me?  Please share it with all the readers in the comments section. Thank you

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s   I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you

Related Reading:
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The Paper Garden
Walter’s Muse
The Love Ceiling

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14 Responses to “LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE ~Anna Quindlen”

  1. rob white Says:

    One thing I love about you Patricia is that you fully understand that we are never done adding more candles to our ‘growth and development’ cake either! I consider my 60’s my greatest epoch yet, sharing with folks the knowledge I’ve gathered from my personal life-lessons. When we share, we plant opportunities for those with which we share as well as for ourselves. This is an act of true human consideration. Everyone wins. It’s the Golden Rule, the Law of Reciprocity, in action. Nothing is more beautiful than sharing and receiving more of what we’ve shared. You, obviously practice this in your life, Patricia.

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you so much for dropping by and your kind comment. Other women keep adding more projects to their lives – I just seem to be upping the levels of curiosity and things I want to know…

    I do get a bit grumpy that younger women do not appreciate or want to know about my experiences of being the only woman out of 750 men in a program and how we broke the mold – though some of us broke down ourselves.

    I do truly like the age I am at, the wisdom I have gained just hoping for the funds to make it through the next dance!

  2. susan Says:

    Hi Patricia,
    Sounds like a book I would enjoy too altho I think written from a slightly different experience. Like you, I was in the trenches in the generation that DID break the mold that is now either taken for granted or ignored. Early 70’s when they had “quotas” to put women in management positions – along with hiring more minorities! I was the test dummy. Let’s give her an office and staff and see what happens kind of test dummy. I didn’t have kids then – not til my late 30’s. Then the other challenge – the old gap on the resume – yikes – totally UNqualified for me for getting anywhere near where I left off! I could write a book about THAT! And I know I would hit a nerve with thousands of women like me. You and Anna are so right – we think it’s just us, a personal thing, but it speaks volumes for so many!

    Great review! I was a Erma follower too. Anna was too serious for me and I couldn’t relate to her at all. Sounds like maybe this go round I could.

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    Patricia Reply:

    I think Anna Q has more self acceptance going on right now and that is reflected in her writing – but she makes some keen and humorous points and truly made me not feel alone.

    Though I would love to have some more financial abundance as she has

    I was just dropped on to a University campus and told to fund raise my own salary and create my own job….Those were the days…and then when I got the fundraising going and the board set up – they fired me and hired a man – Yay Right!

    Yes I always think it is just ME and I am alone in this situation

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – This is a GREAT review. As such, another must-read book has been added to my ever-growing list. (If a person can’t die until they finish all the books on their must-read list, I think I’m going to live forever).

    You asked, “Do you have a book of wisdom that just delights you and speaks to you like this group of essays spoke to me?”

    “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Caroline Myss is like that for me.
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    Patricia Reply:

    Yep I think that is the way life works and I just always keep finding more and more lovely books to read. You and I are going to be here forever!

    Yes I so enjoyed Anatomy of the Spirit and Marianne Williamson’s book on Change…I am forgetting the title…these books were a great back to back read for me

  4. Zara Laboureyas Says:

    hmmm.. interesting! A good book to read today, from the review it self seems that when you starts to read you cannot let go.. I ca’t wait to have this book. I’ll look this at my fave bookstore.
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    Patricia Reply:

    I know this is an ad connection but I wonder if Zara will actually purchase the book?
    Wants me to purchase her CDs and lessons…Did she not know if she bought the book off my site I would receive a few beans in my bucket…
    not her local bookstore, but then again….back scratching is sometimes good :)
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  5. Talon Says:

    Life is certainly different now with the sandwich generation. Lots of adjustments to be made, but, at the end of the day, what a great accomplishment it is to reach sixty. I don’t think we honor aging at all and spend too much time and energy wanting to be young, when nothing is as remarkable as looking back on decades and seeing how far you’ve come and how you’ve managed to survive and thrive.

    Hope your foot is feeling better, Patricia, and that you and Zip are having a lovely weekend.
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    Patricia Reply:

    I am actively working on foot feeling better, but missed my walk today because I just could not trust it and had a dental appointment. Zip is having a lovely weekend as the workers come and go at the house next door…wow he loves to bark and wants them to come over and say hello.

    Kids are taking their father backpacking and celebrating IT Girls birthday – the home front is a mass of camping gear!

    I really love being 60 and would not go back for anything, I just wish my aches and things would get under control.

    Yes we need to celebrate age more – What do all those youth know? :)
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  6. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — my sense is that “thinking it’s just you but not realizing it’s the way things are” is a common issue for people of all genders. :) The way I would put it is “believing that I’m the only person who has a certain insecurity or vulnerability, when it’s actually pretty common.” Being in groups of people who are honest about what’s going on for them has done much to change that way of thinking for me.
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    Patricia Reply:

    I think sometimes one is too busy to connect. As when I was taking care of my 90+ mum with a fractured back – it was 24/7 and I did not have time to consider anything. Then she was gone, and now I have too large a time gap on my resume even with all the doctoring and tweaking, and there are just too many folks unemployed as government lets everyone go….we need a stimulus to get the infrastructures back in working order! on many levels hee hee :)

    It was very reassuring to discover all the overviews the author offered…and I loved her term ” caregiver cubed!”

    Thanks for you good words.
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  7. Sam Juliano Says:

    Yes, that age, once so far away is on the threshold for a number of us, and a book like this can help the transition with confidence and optimism. You’ve done a beautiful job in framing the film’s value to women and how to prepare for the future without looking back. Definitely a most intriguing reading possibility, even an essential one.

    Patricia Reply:

    I think it is crucial for folks to plan and take care – and if they do I think these are the best years. I am busy collecting some more books on retiring and planning to keep up this theme for awhile longer. Letting go is very difficult and needs practice!

    My partner goes on Medicare in July….but can not retire until 72. His last physical exam he came in at age 38….! It does take work and knowledge but it is oh so worthwhile.
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