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The Women's Room (VMC) Paperback – 1 May 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (1 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860492827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860492822
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'They said this book would change lives - and it certainly changed mine.' Jenni Murray 'The kind of book that changes lives' Fay Weldon *'Reading The Women's Room was an intense and wonderful experience. It is in my DNA' Kirsty Wark.*'The Women's Room took the lid off a seething mass of women's frustrations, resentments and furies; it was an angry book about the victimisation of women, about the need to change things from top to bottom; it was a declaration of independence' Observer

Book Description

The classic feminist novel, reissued for its 30th anniversary.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
The book seeks to show the lot of women in the 50's - 70's. It does this through tracking the life and thoughts of one woman; Myra. Although several of her accounts of the type of choices facing women twenty or thirty years ago may seem bleak they still have a resonance today. French writes in a seemingly dispassionate way about the stark realities of life as a women and draws you in to a rich story full of colour,drama and lessons. Although rated as a seminal femminist work, it is not preachy. The best book I have ever read.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
I first read this book 20 years ago when I was a student. My friends and I felt then that it changed everything about the way we related to men and to our own position as women; like Myra's young fellow students at Harvard I thought her story was of a different time. I have just re-read it. All I can say is that things have moved on socially, economically, politically and sexually for women, but the central messages of this book remain. Many of them, I am sorry to say, have come to have a personal resonance for myfriends or me that I would never have dreamed of back then. We fondly believed this stuff could never happen to us. All women should read this book. I would like to think that many men would read it too, but we haven't come as far in that direction as we might like to think. A powerful and thought-provoking story for human beings of all ages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cosmicsunshine on 9 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure why I wanted to read this book again. But now I know. Women in the 50s and 60s were treated as second-class citizens. Today it is the vulnerable, the poor, the weak, and the sick who are treated that way. And much of the time those are also women! There is much to learn in our lives and this book has just the right sort of attitude to help us learn. Once again we are fighting for everyone to have equal rights. This book gives us just one little glimpse into what goes on in our minds. Today it is the wealthy and powerful who lord it over the week and vulnerable. We have a long way to go to find equality. Women do not want to be better than men, they just want to be equal. The vulnerable, the poor, the weak, and the sick just want to be treated well, and with dignity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book was one of the great feminist statements of its time, and though I have some reservations about Marilyn French, it's by far the strongest work I've read by her, and was certainly a necessary book to be written at its time - and as French points out, some of its message is still very relevant, particularly in these times of anti-feminist backlash.

The novel, some 500 pages in length, traces the life of Mira Ward from her suburban childhood to her eventual appointment as a college lecturer. Mira is a very bright girl, who's constantly skipping years at school due to her brilliance, and who (like most of French's female characters) rejects God for a life of pure reason at a young age. But in fact, Mira's so conditioned by her stuffy middle-class background that her actions are far from 'reasoned'. After a solitary childhood, she goes to a local college, where she tries to make friends with the male students. A misunderstanding leads to her being classified as a flirt, and in a panic that people will reject her and she will be condemned to perpetual solitude, Mira marries Norm, a 'quiet, gentle' son of family friends. Soon she's trapped in suburbia as a bored wife and mother to two small boys, her one consolation the friendships she makes with other suburban mothers - though even these can turn poisonous as the women vie for male attention. Eventually, Mira's forced to change her life when, after some 15 years of this sort of life, Norm gets bored with her and demands that they divorce. With the help of her intellectual friend Martha, Mira survives a suicide attempt and goes back to college. She graduates, gets a doctoral place at Harvard and, leaving her sons with their father, begins a new life as a student - in her mid thirties.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 6 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Mira, born in the 1930s, reaches adulthood in the early 50s and, like so many women of her generation, gets married because that's what women were supposed to do. She loves her children, quite likes her emotionally-distant husband, and falls into suburban American life - never quite understanding her own subliminal feelings of discontent.

This was written in 1977 and is classic `second wave' feminist polemic by an author now revered as one of the founding figures (mothers?) of feminism. As such it has a retro, vintage feel about it but it is still a book worth reading, as much for the changes between then and now, as for the sometimes disconcerting similarities.

French is deeply intelligent and incisive but it has to be said that she's not the greatest fiction writer around. Despite her own sad life of abuse and rape, this isn't a book which is anti-men in any kind of simplistic way. Instead it values individuals, regardless of gender and biology, and shows how a culture which separates `male' and `female' work does a disservice to both parties, rendering couples alien to each other.

That said, I can imagine how controversial this must have been at the time at which it was first published, taking the lid off `desperate housewives' everywhere. There is a sense of seventies sisterhood but also an acknowledgement of the way in which women can be their own worst enemies, not least in the way they turn against each other in the face of competition for a man. So this doesn't ignore female complicity in patriarchy but does go some way towards understanding and analysing it, surely a first step towards dismantlement.

Definitely still worth reading today - by men as well as women.
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