“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin

Dec 26, 2011 by

The Awakening indeed!  Twenty-eight year old Edna Pontellier finds herself stuck leading a life of illusion.  There is very little that she would consider “real”, and has therefore lost her passion for living.  She slowly realizes that her marriage is not exactly perfect, nor filled with love.  Her husband is selfish and is basically only concerned with appearances.  This realization blossoms into a fierce desire to be independent and a craving for passion in her life.  She questions everything, and begins searching within herself and starts to paint again… and then she starts searching within the arms of men who are not her husband.

In this fashion, she proceeds to dismantle her life.  Upon seeing that she is unable to truly have what she really wants, she makes the final decision which honestly surprised me.  Seriously.  I didn’t realize that was the end of the story.  Once I regained my composure, I sat back; happy.

This book was quite scandalous in its time.  To think, a woman choosing against a well-established husband and family?  Following her own desires, and not the habits set forth by acceptable society?  Yes, this was sure to wreak havoc on the impressionable female readers.

I really enjoyed how Edna started to question the “norms” of her life, and how she started to assert her individuality.  The scene in which she attempts to stay up later than her husband made me laugh with his ridiculous stubbornness.  Then, for her to progressively challenge her husband’s “authority” as the book continues just becomes easier as she gains self-confidence.  This is a great read, and one that I wish I had read a long time ago.

*****
The Awakening
by Kate Chopin
Bantam Classic Reissue 2003; first published 1899
157 pages
Source:  Traded for a Used Copy
*****
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“A Single Man” by Christopher Isherwood

Jun 26, 2011 by

This book is something special.  I had waited for so long to read this, that I started to worry that I was putting too much pressure on it to live up to my elevated expectations – that worry was unnecessary.

A Single Man chronicles a day in the life of George – a professor at the local State College, far from his native England, and deeply grieving the recent and sudden loss of his long-time partner Jim.  Doubling the tragedy here, is that it is the early 1960s, when being gay was something to be hidden from, well, everyone except perhaps your closest and dearest friends.  George is so overwhelmingly disconnected from his neighbors, his peers at work, his students….  that he is becoming disconnected from himself.  This particular day finds George attempting to reconnect with his friends and neighbors, and make new connections with his students…..

George’s isolation in his grief, in his life is heartbreaking.  Although I cannot say what it is like to be gay in America now, and certainly not in the 1960s…  I’d have to imagine that this is a fairly accurate portrayal.  I loved watching George evolve….  for such a slim book, this evolution feels slow and dramatic and just lovely to behold.

As I said, this had been on my list to read for awhile now…. and I am so glad I finally got to it.  I am also going to include this in the Book to Movies Challenge, so expect a movie review in a few days or so.  I am really looking forward to how they deal with George’s character.  A lot of what I like in the book was internal to George, and I am curious to see how that is translated to film.

*****
A Single Man                                 
by Christopher Isherwood
Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2001 (orig, pub 1964)
186 pages
Source:  Library

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