Walks With Men

by Ann Beattie

"You see through this; understand I was naïve, even if you factor in that I was young."

This little book was a strange and short account of one girl and her relationship with an older man. It tells the story of Jane, a recent Harvard graduate, who comes under the tutelage of Neil.  Neil is twenty years older than Jane; he teaches her the important things in life, like what brand of umbrella to carry and which dishes to order at restaurants. They become lovers, and marry quickly, without ceremony.  The rest of the novel involves the result of Jane's subordination to Neil, the loss of herself, and her ultimate education about men.  
This story is told from Jane's point of view, in a sort of short form.  Everything is told in the past tense, which allows the reader to remove him or herself from the proceedings of the novel.  All of the events that Jane explains have already happened.  Beattie chooses her words with care; each short sentence packs in a great deal of meaning.  Jane also addresses the reader from time to time, as if she is actually telling the story out loud.  

In a world where bookshelves are cluttered with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, I found this book about female subordination quite new and different.  Jane feels like she is learning from Neil, and doesn't realize how skewed her views have become until she is forced to step back from him.  When telling her story, Jane is able to reflect upon her actions with Neil - she realizes that she should have asked more questions, not let him support her, been less passive, and not run back to him after setting herself free. 

This is a really quick read, because of its short-form style.  I recommend it if you're in the mood for a quick, yet thought-provoking novel about one woman and her education about men. 

♥ Meg xoxo

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