The Women's Room: A Novel

The Women's Room: A Novel


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The twenty-one-million copy bestselling novel and provocative feminist classic that changed the world when it was first published in 1977

“With The Women’s Room, Marilyn French joined Simone de Beauvoir, Ralph Ellison, and that very small group of writers whose words spark a movement.” —Gloria Steinem

In the 1950s, many American women left education and professional advancement behind in order to marry, only to find themselves adrift and unable to support themselves after divorcing their husbands twenty years later. Some became destitute; a few went insane. But many went back to school in the heyday of the Women’s Liberation movement, and were swept up in the promise of equality for both sexes.

The Women’s Room tells the story of one such woman: a suburban 1950s housewife named Mira who divorces her loathsome husband and returns to graduate school at Harvard. Loosely based on Marilyn French’s own life, the story of Mira and her friends offers wry, piercing insight into the inner lives of a generation of American women. A powerful indictment of the patriarchal social norms of the time, it caused an uproar when it was first published in 1977, changing the course of the feminist movement forever. Today, it remains timely and eerily relevant—a courageous novel infused with revolutionary fervor that examines the world of hopeful believers looking for new truths.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143114505
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/27/2009
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 332,894
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Marilyn French (1929–2009) received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1972. She was a literary critic, and her articles and stories appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies. She taught at Hofstra, Harvard, and the College of the Holy Cross, and received a Harvard Centennial Medal.

Dorothy Allison (foreword) is the acclaimed author of the nationally bestselling novel Bastard Out of Carolina, which was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The recipient of numerous awards, she lives in Northern California.

Linsey Abrams (foreword) has published three novels: Charting the Stars, Double Vision, and Our History in New York.

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Women's Room 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Phyllie More than 1 year ago
This book changed my life forever. Any woman young or old must read it. I am so happy they are re-issuing again. I read it in my 20's and over and over. I am now 64 and going to read again.
amargi More than 1 year ago
I first read this book when I was a high school senior, I was so moved by the story, I took a copy of the book with me when I left home and joined the Army. That was in 1979. Since then I've owned many a copy, and given many away and it is still one of the best books I've ever read.After all these years (and many rereads)I can still FEEL these characters, their joys, their pains, and mostly Mira's growth. Awesome...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I hate reviews that give the whole story away, so I just want to say that when I read this book I was going through a very hard time, I would stay up nights reading this book...and pondering what it said. It made me feel that I could deal with everything that life handed to me...I needed to be a strong woman. I recommend this book to you, to all the women out there, who, forgot what it felt like to take a breath and feel relief that you are truly, indeed..a woman! This is a wonderful, superb of the best of all time!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this marvelous book when I was 35 then at 45, 55 and now at 65. I will never tire of it. It is life for a woman who was a product of the 1950's and would be helpful to any woman of any age to better understand what it was like 'back then'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I get very tired of reading reviews that decribe Ms. French as 'the blatant feminist'. I see her as more of a fictional historian, because this book documents what it was like to be a woman in the midst of the period she has described in her novel. I originally read this book as a young woman. Now approaching my 40's, I feel hopeful and empowered by having read what she wrote. If you are 20 and have wondered what it was like to be your grandmother, read this book. If you are 40 and have wondered why your mother made the choices she made, read this book. It is a chronical of women in the United States from the 1950's through the 1970's. Anyone who has ever taken a history course knows that it is only by learning about the past that you can avoid repeating it. Thank you Marilyn. I wish I had had the guts to contact you when I read this the first time.
ReadingLady53 More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in my 20's. I am now 57 years old and I STILL remember what I consider the best paragraphs in this book - a description of love that is classic and true! I won't spoil it for anyone who has not read this book. Suffice it to say that if I can practically recall these paragraphs verbatim 30+ years after reading them, they spoke to me in a very profound way. READ THIS BOOK.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was 18. It stayed with me.
mame1151 More than 1 year ago
This book changed my life; I could have been Lily. I was 27 when I read the book and I found myself again. I've recommended this book to so many people over the years that have been going through personal crises. The book was timely and timeless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Literally. Read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 51 read this book for the first time while in high school. It is powerful and tells the story of what it was like for women. I still have my original copy of this book. I am only buying on nook so i can take everywhere!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First read this when I was 13ish.... loved it then and was my constant go to read. I grew with this book and 23 years later this book still moves and strengthens me!!
Marjorie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book had a powerful effect on me when I read it in the late 70s. I have not reread it.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was a real disappointment. The excruciating detail in which the author indulges cuts off all imagination on reader's part. It creates a distance, as though the reader were an uninvolved observer, which prevents any kind of identification with the characters. The structure is lopsided - sometimes a personal account, sometime a long-winded narrative. It's neither an essay nor a novel. The great cast of characters is difficult to follow - people drift in and out. Each woman seems to be a "case" or political example rather than a person.The politics themselves are virulent and outdated. Certainly a reflection of the times but today unconvincing. The story is too one-sided.Frankly, there is not much to redeem this book. I recommend Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique instead.
pamfb7557 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Whenever my ex-husband would see me re-reading this book, he hid, because he knew I would hate men for about a month afterward. This is one book that I truly think changed how I looked at my life. Younger women should read it so they can realize how much life has changed for women in the past five decades. One of my all-time favorite books.
realsupergirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really important book in the feminist canon. Although it's written to be a work of fiction, it conveys a certain era (1970's) and wave of the feminist movement with accuracy and poignancy.
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
Read this closer to the original publication date, and recently revisited, for book club. It is both interesting to see how far feminism and women's rights have come since the 1970's - and how far they have yet to come. The issues dealt with in this book - the demeaning of women as lesser, both in status and intelligence, the expectation that women can or should put aside their own dreams and aspirations for motherhood and serving a man, the tendency of police to discount the word of a rape victim... Haven't changed a whole lot. Most of the characters in this book are white women. Though there is mention of Mira grappling with her own racism, the issue of intersectional feminism is entirely absent. There's a whole lot of smoking and drinking on almost every page, so if that's a trigger for you, you might want to avoid or read with awareness. As a classic work, it is worth reading, but it is slow going with a lot of sprawl in various directions, that nonetheless tie together to show that options for American women - even white, comparatively privileged American women - have rarely been all that great, even when they "did everything right."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any female going threw a trouble time with their significant other. Maybe a sense of empowerment. Very good book!
lorrib More than 1 year ago
This book gave me so much to think about! Altho I most saw myself in Kyla, I was so struck by the scene in which Mira's husband forbids her to give money to her impoverished friend Samantha. I had actually thought up to that point in my life that I was the only one who thought the way Mira was thinking! Any woman who is honest with herself will see herself in at LEAST one of these characters. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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