The End of Men: A Novel
The four women at the heart of Karen Rinaldi’s The End of Men are all trying to make sense of who they are and what they want out of their fabulous lives in New York City. Isabel, an associate publisher of a women’s magazine, and Maggie, Anna, and Beth—the three women who run Red Hot Mama, an upscale women’s lingerie store catering to pregnant clientele—want to be powerful in their own lives, but their choices get the better of them time and time again.
The real struggle with the novel is that the women are unlikable. All women of privilege and means, their concerns about feeling loved or being strong enough to handle it all are really the kind of first-world problems we’ve read about a hundred times. One has to wonder if Harper Collins would have looked twice at this novel if Karen Rinaldi weren’t an employee there. The women are vapid, and the question they attempt to answer—can women really have it all—is a bit dated. And the title, The End of Men is misleading in that much of the book wouldn’t exist without its male characters. Isabel’s battle between her husband and a past love, the pseudo-dangerous stranger stalking Beth, Maggie’s dissatisfaction with her husband, and Anna’s difficulty reconciling her work self with her wife/mom self all rely on men. So, when Maggie quips “this is the end of men” as she steps into singlehood, her remark feels hollow and disingenuous.
Perhaps the novel could be read as a fun distraction from our own lives in that these four women aren’t hopeless, they aren’t broken, and they aren’t unlovable, even if they don’t seem to know that about themselves. Maybe that is the lesson from this lackluster book: none of us are as bad off as we believe we are.
|Page Count||336 pages|
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