The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt explores what happens when intellect fails, order dissolves, and one has to rely on strangers to reconstruct one’s life. Hustvedt’s protagonist, Mia, is a literature lecturer and small-time poet who temporarily loses control of her mental faculties when her husband of thirty years requests a ‘pause’ in their marriage following an indiscretion with a young colleague. A brief sojourn in a psychiatric facility follows, after which Mia relocates to Minnesota to spend time with her ageing mother and a colourful group of old women. She reassembles her life through unconventional relationships with the women, a young family, and a group of troublesome adolescent girls.
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