Category: Home, Family & Health / Self Help & Practical Interests
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 25 September 2003
Number of pages: 320
Women in the 21st century have more than ever before, yet many find themselves angry, dissatisfied and stressed. This book explores these issues, with 26 women inviting readers into their lives, minds and bedrooms to talk about the choices they've made. They discuss their relationships, families, frustrations and hopes. For some, the conflicts involve the stresses of juggling motherhood and a career; for others, the feeling of not wanting children - or fear that they've left it too late.
In her introduction to this collection, Cathi Hanauer informs us that 'this book was born out of anger'. The 26 essays are indeed sizzling with rage and frustration, a rage which is usually directed at men, but is also turned on children, unwelcome guests and work. The old, old problem of combining domesticity and a satisfying career is the flashpoint for many of these essays. The writers span three generations, and despite the strides taken by feminism in the last 50 years, it would appear that little has changed in this area. Women are still running the home and holding down a job, trying to be superwomen while slowly coming apart at the seams. Time and again the finger is pointed at the male of the species; he may be content to live off his wealthier partner, while she cleans up around him barely suppressing her fury, or he may turn from charming fiance into unfeeling monster simply by taking his wedding vows. Many of the contributors admit that their expectations of their men are too high; often they embark upon relationships dissatisfied with the raw material, but thinking they can change it. The most successful essays are those which focus on issues other than the man/woman/work triangle of reproach. Natalie Kusz's 'The Fat Lady Sings' will inspire many women to throw off the shackles of body tyranny and just live a little, while 'Houseguest Hell: My Home Is Not Your Home' (Chitra Divakaruni) is an inspired piece, hilarious and touching by turns, as the writer describes the horrors of the annual descent of her demanding extended family. 'Crossing the Line in the Sand' is shocking for what doesn't happen, as an overwrought mother finds herself trembling on the brink of harming her children. Stories of this calibre serve only to highlight the self-pitying tone of some of the weaker contributions, in which the protagonists all seem to be wealthy media types, living in spacious loft apartments with nothing to do except moan at their unfortunate partners. But ladies, beware: next spring Cathi Hanaur's husband, Daniel Jones, will be publishing The Bastard on the Couch, a collection of essays by 26 men on 'love, loss, fatherhood and freedom'. Revenge promises to be sweet. (Kirkus UK)
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