This was one of those big, sprawling novels that covers many years and a large group of people, each of whom gets their moment to be the protagonist.
The main protagonist is Greer, a quiet studious girl who hasn't found anything that really interests her life - except maybe her boyfriend Cory - until after she's in college and sees feminist icon Faith Frank speak. A chance meeting in the bathrooms sends her entire life on a new path as Greer's life becomes increasingly entwined with Faith's.
But even as Greer discovers her life's purpose under Faith's wing, those around her may be falling by the wayside. Cory, whose own life is shattered just as it's supposed to be getting started. Greer's college bestie, Zee, who Greer betrays, sending her off into a life she'd never imagined for herself. And Faith herself, private to the point of secrecy in the office, but actually longing for all the same things other women want even as she speaks out against them.
The novel follows these characters (and one other surprise one whose role in all these lives remains obscured until toward the end of the book) across decades as they struggle to align their values, their politics, their relationships and their jobs.
I really enjoyed this one. Greer had an amazing arc, growing from a shy, neglected child into a strong, powerful woman in her own right. Yes, she had to sacrifice some things along the way, but in the end, her life was better for all that. I liked the way Faith began the book as a shining beacon for Greer, but as her own power and confidence grew, Faith's began to seem dull and artificial. I think we've all had people we idolise from a distance, only to become disillusioned once we get close enough to see their true colours.
So I'd recommend this one.
But don't just listen to me. Here's the blurb:To be admired by someone we admire—we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer—madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place—feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.