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In the small town of Pierce Junction adultery is the popular pastime and pillow talk the common currency. Martin knows the women he hasn’t yet seduced hold his attention for the longest, and Winifred, married to his own wife’s lover, stirs him in ways he never expects. United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastl In the small town of Pierce Junction adultery is the popular pastime and pillow talk the common currency. Martin knows the women he hasn’t yet seduced hold his attention for the longest, and Winifred, married to his own wife’s lover, stirs him in ways he never expects. United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love…


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In the small town of Pierce Junction adultery is the popular pastime and pillow talk the common currency. Martin knows the women he hasn’t yet seduced hold his attention for the longest, and Winifred, married to his own wife’s lover, stirs him in ways he never expects. United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastl In the small town of Pierce Junction adultery is the popular pastime and pillow talk the common currency. Martin knows the women he hasn’t yet seduced hold his attention for the longest, and Winifred, married to his own wife’s lover, stirs him in ways he never expects. United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love…

30 review for The Women Who Got Away

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Natural Color - a man sees his former mistress in a store; at best it's melodramatic, at worst it's a little foreboding (3 stars) New York Girl - an affair is begun with a woman in New York, while the man is questioning his marriage; the switches kept me on my toes (3 stars) Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War - a banjo player is touring communist Russia (2 stars) The Women Who Got Away - a married couple have affairs on the side, but eventually divorce (3 stars) Transaction - an encounter be Natural Color - a man sees his former mistress in a store; at best it's melodramatic, at worst it's a little foreboding (3 stars) New York Girl - an affair is begun with a woman in New York, while the man is questioning his marriage; the switches kept me on my toes (3 stars) Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War - a banjo player is touring communist Russia (2 stars) The Women Who Got Away - a married couple have affairs on the side, but eventually divorce (3 stars) Transaction - an encounter between a 40-year-old man and a prostitute in the city of N—; the main character is really patronizing and uncomfortable with people of color, but the writing is good (2 stars)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nalia

    Short and sweet, these stories speak directly to the heart. Updike is discriptive yet not tiring, and displays his wonderful language skills masterfully. He tells simple stories that could have happened to anyone, and this is where his magic lays. The reader can relate and shed a tear over stories that remind him of his own love life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ke*

    Ughh. Misogynistic phantasies of a racist male. Won't read another Updike.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richa Bhattarai

    Disliked the book, it seems nothing more than a male fantasy to write lasciviously about women, and vulgarly about sexual encounters. All five stories have the same plot of extramarital affairs and women who are madly in lust with the narrator or the ‘protagonist’, who is a really, really annoying character. My husband laughed when he saw I was reading this, mentioning, ‘There’s nothing but sex in there, I’m sure.’ Just read some samples: ‘Standing again above the basin’s bright moon, he felt hi Disliked the book, it seems nothing more than a male fantasy to write lasciviously about women, and vulgarly about sexual encounters. All five stories have the same plot of extramarital affairs and women who are madly in lust with the narrator or the ‘protagonist’, who is a really, really annoying character. My husband laughed when he saw I was reading this, mentioning, ‘There’s nothing but sex in there, I’m sure.’ Just read some samples: ‘Standing again above the basin’s bright moon, he felt his genitals stir, sweeten, with the idea of it: the idea of shaving, so domestically, to oblige this ungrateful stringy whore in the next room.’ ‘His hard prick glittered when her profile did not eclipse it.’ ‘Though Ann’a fucking felt like an attack, his prick held its own, and his hypnotic touch on her nipple also held.’ Aargh. Winner of the most off-putting, libido-killing sex scenes ever. Anyway, humor makes things bearable in two stories - The Women Who Got Away and Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War. I laughed out loud a couple of times. The author is clever and knowledgeable enough about the art of writing. But I will not be reading any more of Mr. Updike and his teenaged desires.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yalda

    Yes, it is about adultery. I haven't been married for a single day and I don't have the slightest idea how adultery feels like, but if making it sound dull was his purpose, he has perfectly made it. I still adore his literary style.

  6. 4 out of 5

    latner3

    Five stories about adultery written with Updike's usual craftsmanship.Liked the stories 'Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War' for me the best of the five.The other four are still worth reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Two and a half stars actually. If Updike didn't come across as slightly racist and misogynistic, I would've enjoyed his prose and character development more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    I really feel for any woman who ever loved John Updike, should any such person even exist.

  9. 4 out of 5

    CaitlynK

    "We came down on the big arc over Gander and Nova Scotia and, five miles up, I could see New York from hundreds of miles away, a little blur of light in the cold plastic oval of the plane window. It grew and grew, like a fish I was pulling in. My cheek got cold against the plastic as I pressed to keep it in view, a little spot on the invisible surface of the earth like a nebula, like a dust mouse, only glowing, the fuzzy center of our American dream." Not my favorite collection ever - altogether "We came down on the big arc over Gander and Nova Scotia and, five miles up, I could see New York from hundreds of miles away, a little blur of light in the cold plastic oval of the plane window. It grew and grew, like a fish I was pulling in. My cheek got cold against the plastic as I pressed to keep it in view, a little spot on the invisible surface of the earth like a nebula, like a dust mouse, only glowing, the fuzzy center of our American dream." Not my favorite collection ever - altogether too many men ducking into stores to avoid ex-lovers, and the narrators all felt more than vaguely similar - but a decent introduction to Updike nonetheless.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    Every chapters taught me very important subtle facets of womanhood that I’d never get so easily these days , although having identified with the women in 3 out of 5 chapters in the book...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Very nicely written collection of short stories. But they were too short!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Suzie Grogan

    This is one of those short collections that should make you want to read more of an author's work, but it has had the opposite effect on me. This is a cold analysis and acceptance of adultery, from a male perspective that makes the reader confused as to whether it is Updike that is the misogynist or whether he just likes stories where his lead character is one. Are they men of their time, or are they archetypes for all time? They are unloveable, rather grubby male leads with little to engage a f This is one of those short collections that should make you want to read more of an author's work, but it has had the opposite effect on me. This is a cold analysis and acceptance of adultery, from a male perspective that makes the reader confused as to whether it is Updike that is the misogynist or whether he just likes stories where his lead character is one. Are they men of their time, or are they archetypes for all time? They are unloveable, rather grubby male leads with little to engage a female sympathy and although he is clearly a master of the craft I am not sure I want to delve any deeper.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terpsichore Savvala

    Beautifully written, but it does make you hate Updike.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mallory (The Local Muse)

    This and more @ The Local Muse: The Women Who Got Away is a collection of short stories by John Updike complied into this Penguin Great Loves edition. I picked up quite a few of these on Book depository a year-or-so ago because I loved the concept and the beautiful pocket size designs and I thought it was about time I actually read them. This collection included five short stories by Updike that fit the theme of the title, women who got away. All five stories are told by a (usually) nameless male This and more @ The Local Muse: The Women Who Got Away is a collection of short stories by John Updike complied into this Penguin Great Loves edition. I picked up quite a few of these on Book depository a year-or-so ago because I loved the concept and the beautiful pocket size designs and I thought it was about time I actually read them. This collection included five short stories by Updike that fit the theme of the title, women who got away. All five stories are told by a (usually) nameless male narrator lamenting on his mistress that has gotten away. I picked this up because A&P by Updike( you can read it here; it's very short) is one of my favorite short stories of all time, and one that I have studied and written papers on many times before, so I was looking to read more of his works. This was a quick read that I really enjoyed! I'm now interested in picking up some of Updike's longer fiction, but I'm not sure where to start. Despite these stories having very similar narrators and themes, the stories were not monotonous or boring. Updike is able to create such real and complex characters in such a short amount of words that even the shortest of his stories feel complete and complex. Updike writes about the mundane and the everyday, but he is able to capture humanity and emotion so well, that it feels like you are witness to intimate details and private moments in someone else's life. I would say that the title story was my favorite, but I enjoyed the other four stories as well. While I don't think these stories are Updike's best work, I do think this would serve as a good introduction to Updike's writing style if you are interested in jumping into his works. I would recommend starting with A&P before these stories though.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jack O'Donnell

    john updike.png This is a book of five short stories – Natural Color, New York Girl, Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War, The Women Who Got Away and Transaction – about man’s priapic need to love women, come what may and whatever the cost to existing marriages or children. A man that thinks with his dick is a man I can believe in. And I ask myself a simple question is this a true story or not? If I’m not really sure whether it’s fact or fiction then the stories are coins of true worth. I g john updike.png This is a book of five short stories – Natural Color, New York Girl, Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War, The Women Who Got Away and Transaction – about man’s priapic need to love women, come what may and whatever the cost to existing marriages or children. A man that thinks with his dick is a man I can believe in. And I ask myself a simple question is this a true story or not? If I’m not really sure whether it’s fact or fiction then the stories are coins of true worth. I guess there’s every kind of women here, but only one kind of man. Eddie Chester, for example, in Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War is a banjo player from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (which reminds me of the Laurel and Hardy sketch). He’s hitched a gig on a cultural exchange programme during the Khrushchev era of 1964 and during a briefing in Washington he hitches up with Imogene, ‘one of the receptionists a little black haired coffee-fetcher from that afternoon’s briefing came up to me as if her breasts were being offered on a tray.’ It seems like bad manners to resist and like the other narrators being away from home and children means different rules apply. Imogene, Eddie finds, is an easy lay. I like to press my face into a girlfriend’s nether soul, to taste the waters that we must all swim out to the light. I strove to keep my manly focus, amid the juggling caused by government-issue alcohol, my wondering what time it was, the jostling of my conscience… In other words they have sex or make love. And that become Eddie’s problem. He sees it as the former and she regards it as the latter – flooding the diplomatic pouches with her missives and plans which follow Eddie from Moscow to the Caucasus. Eddie’s not an unreasonable man. He just wants to be left alone and he’s got a bit of a thing for Nadia his KGB, translator. There would be a moment, towards the end of a long public day in, say Tashkent, when her English would deteriorate, just shy of weariness from drawing on a double set of brain cells, and her eyelids and the tip of her long white nose would get pink…and she would give me the handshake, not the palm and meat of the thumb, but four cool fingers, aligned like a sergeant’s stripes. The narrator is a man that loves women as does, I suspect the author, who has a propensity for it seems for long white noses and hiding from former beaus in shop doorways. Jane, the New York Girl, for example, is an artist and a bit of a klutz, ‘with a bony face, high cheekbones and powdered over freckles, seemed a little tugged to the one side.’ Stan travels Route 17 to New York on the train, leaving his wife and kids behind, to measure up her art for the aluminium frames he installs. He’s shy, but she’s got his measure and he’s got hers. They have a working affair. When he’s working in New York, she meets him and gets a baby sitter for her boy. Updike is good at when sex becomes love and usually the kick is the narrator looking back with regret and the high of nostalgia for what had been and what could have been. The past is the future in reverse. Yeh, I get that. It’s a man’s world that is constantly expanding, but the choices for women, well, that’s a different story. Try Elena Ferrante for that one. Or if you stick your hands over your ears for the over-exuberant rant try Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laala Kashef Alghata

    “You used what you had here. People had so little material goods they had to take pleasure just in being alive.” — John Updike, Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War I wish I’d made notes when I read this book, but I read it out in the garden, leaving my phone and my notebook behind. It’s a short read — five short stories — and it was a pleasant afternoon. Unfortunately, it means that since this was read almost six or seven weeks ago, the specifics have slipped my mind. From what I understan “You used what you had here. People had so little material goods they had to take pleasure just in being alive.” — John Updike, Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War I wish I’d made notes when I read this book, but I read it out in the garden, leaving my phone and my notebook behind. It’s a short read — five short stories — and it was a pleasant afternoon. Unfortunately, it means that since this was read almost six or seven weeks ago, the specifics have slipped my mind. From what I understand of Updike (this is my first foray into his work), affairs, sexual incompetence and relationships feature frequently in his work. It’s no different here. The writing is felt a lot more sparse than I expected, although I liked the effect some of the economy of language provoked. One thing I didn’t appreciate was how lacking his women were compared to how developed his male characters were. The stories were interesting, though, and I am curious to read more of his work. I’m just not on the edge of my seat.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    A book of adultery. The stories of this collection were generally slow to get started but enjoyable non-the-less. The only one I disliked was "Natural Color" as there seemed to be nothing else to the story other than the affair. My favourite was probably "Transaction" despite not waiting for it end at the beginning, it really was an interesting take on hiring a prostitute. I also enjoyed "Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War", although despised the affair, it seemed to add nothing to the e A book of adultery. The stories of this collection were generally slow to get started but enjoyable non-the-less. The only one I disliked was "Natural Color" as there seemed to be nothing else to the story other than the affair. My favourite was probably "Transaction" despite not waiting for it end at the beginning, it really was an interesting take on hiring a prostitute. I also enjoyed "Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War", although despised the affair, it seemed to add nothing to the enjoyment of the story, but at the same time it would have been a completely different story without it. In all a mixed collection, with some fascinating ideas.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Hobson

    There are five very short stories in this collection. They are themed around women and the various relationships between men and women. While you might say that some are rather cold and some take a purely sexual view of the relationships, there is no doubt that they are all very well written. I am trying to see the quality that makes me say they are well written. Is it the brevity or is it more the lack of distracting words or sentences to cloud the picture. They are all well drawn and the charac There are five very short stories in this collection. They are themed around women and the various relationships between men and women. While you might say that some are rather cold and some take a purely sexual view of the relationships, there is no doubt that they are all very well written. I am trying to see the quality that makes me say they are well written. Is it the brevity or is it more the lack of distracting words or sentences to cloud the picture. They are all well drawn and the characters quickly emerge, and I think this is down to the quality of the language. It is simple and that is what makes these stories good.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed most of the stories in this collection, which I wasn't really expecting. The only low point was the last story, 'Transaction' - it took me a week to read fifteen or so pages because it was just so awkward. That was probably the point - it's about a prostitute and a man who doesn't really know how to behave with a prostitute. Actually, that begs the question of what actually is proper etiquette for hiring a whore. A good starting point would probably be anything that the guy (whos I really enjoyed most of the stories in this collection, which I wasn't really expecting. The only low point was the last story, 'Transaction' - it took me a week to read fifteen or so pages because it was just so awkward. That was probably the point - it's about a prostitute and a man who doesn't really know how to behave with a prostitute. Actually, that begs the question of what actually is proper etiquette for hiring a whore. A good starting point would probably be anything that the guy (whose name I've forgotten already) didn't do. Like get an erection. What a waste of time and money.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    for some reason, i've always gotten a bad taste in my mouth when i heard the name john updike but i've never read any of his books. 4 stories about adultery, one after the other, only minor details shifting, can be a bit tiresome. isn't it always tough to distinguish between the author and the character? is john updike a misogynist or are only his characters so? either way, his writing style is a lot more to my liking than i imagined (maybe in boring literary dreams) but i can't say i'm crazy ab for some reason, i've always gotten a bad taste in my mouth when i heard the name john updike but i've never read any of his books. 4 stories about adultery, one after the other, only minor details shifting, can be a bit tiresome. isn't it always tough to distinguish between the author and the character? is john updike a misogynist or are only his characters so? either way, his writing style is a lot more to my liking than i imagined (maybe in boring literary dreams) but i can't say i'm crazy about this set of stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Olivia L

    Unfortunately, it felt tedious to read, and I probably finished only because it was short. Also, I'm so used to reading books by women lately that anything else comes off as misogynistic, which this might partially be. It is a book about adultery, but still. None of the characters seemed original and resembled each other too much for the book to feel like a necessary read. (The main reason I don't read short stories except by experts like Lorrie Moore and Jhumpa Lahiri).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Parker

    This is a collection of short stories by John Updike, where the main theme of them is adultery and the different parties various reactions to that adultery. I don’t understand the fascination with adultery at all. I don’t condone it so I’m not too sure why there is such a fascination with it anyway. Some of these short stories are quite simple in many ways, possibly the only one that is worth reading in my opinion is the titular “The Women Who Got Away”.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tim Caines

    Some good lines especially in 'Transaction'. Not overly fussed to read more of this author though.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Saidatul Madiha

    Kegemaran saya : Natural Color.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    FAVOURITE QUOTE: "Tiny stars of ice clotted my lashes as I kissed our guest good night, square on the mouth but lightly, lightly, with liquor-glazed subtleties of courteous regret."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    None of the stories wow'd me..they were all just OK.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Fajar

    i want read a book

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mimmi Montán

  29. 4 out of 5

    Harriet

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

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