Wednesday, July 10, 2013
My Education by Susan Choi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Regina Gottlieb knew the back story of Professor Nicholas Brodeur when she arrived as a graduate student in his class. She knew that he was said to have been a sexist and that many were deeply insulted by his continued presence at the university. Regina knew all of this and it only made her want him more. In the novel My Education by Susan Choi Regina shares her coming of age story.
The novel is broken into two parts. In the first half of the novel we spend time with the graduate student Regina and discover her obsession with one of the college professors at her university. Regina completely enamored by Nicholas Brodeur makes contact with him and places herself in his inner circle. A love affair begins and becomes all-consuming not with Brodeur but with his wife, Martha. Regina cares only of her own feelings as she engages with Martha. The second half of the novel places Regina in middle age with a husband and child of her own. With a life far removed from her time with Martha we are meant to believe that she has changed and truly has been “educated.”
First, let me say that Choi writes with eloquence that can only be admired. Choi’s prose is the highly redeeming quality of this novel. That being said the novel itself is very difficult to read. It is not the subject matter (college student has an affair with a college professor/ married woman has an affair with an old lover). It is simply put… a bit boring. The first few chapters of the book are almost torture to read. The beautiful prose slowly suffocates the reader. Our narrator does not offer the reader much to grasp if we want to find redeeming qualities. She is selfish and obsessive and she does not change in her “middle age.” Her musings on her awakening from her coming of age education fall with a thud when with her impenitent act of infidelity.
Overall, this book is dense. It requires time and patience. If you adore stirring prose and do not mind waiting a long time for something to happen you should read this book. If you want to feel empathy for characters, perhaps you might spend your time elsewhere.
Note: I received this book from the publisher to review. In no way did that affect the content of this review.