It’s Thursday and I have absolutely no new news, so I’m going to dive right into the review today!
This is a collection of short stories that focus on the struggles that women face both as inherently being a part of the female gender and also being part of the bigger patriarchal society that we live in. These stories employ the concept of magical realism to talk about women’s struggles in an indirect way. Brownrigg talks of everything from women in the work force to women not wanting to have children to anorexia. Brownrigg weaves beautifully lyrical stories that will surely stick with you long after you read the last page.
*click image to be redirect to book’s Goodreads page*
Ahh, please excuse my face being in this photo.
I ended up finding this book at Goodwill and picked it up because it sounded feminist. And, holy cow, it was, and I’m so freaking glad I read this book because I loved everything single thing about it.
Brownrigg’s writing is beautiful, and her stories are magical. I’m a huge fan of magical realism, and I adore how it was employed.
I’m going to do a short review of each story in this book, and keep in mind that I’m not 100% certain what each story is actually about. This is what I took from each story, and is not accepted as fact.
“Amazon” – 5/5 Stars
This is a story about two women who built the world. They’ve travelled from continent to continent, country to county, to build all the structures we marvel at today. One of the women is getting old and approaching retirement (or perhaps death). She reflects on her relationship with the younger woman and everything they’ve accomplished together. There are strong tones of lesbianism in this story.
“A Gal of Ambition” – 4.5/5 Stars
In this story, a woman (who likes soap operas and tells stories like her life is a soap opera) is telling another woman about a woman who died by the hands of a man who provided her with narcotics so she could kill herself. It’s left open-ended for us to contemplate after we’ve been given all the unsettling and nasty details. There are strong undertones of how easily men can get away with crimes against women.
“Hussy from the West” – 5/5 Stars
Hands down my favorite story in this collection. It’s a beautiful story about a woman who’s in love with the west and not a single man. Brownrigg tackles the idea of women as sluts and whores (words that honestly shouldn’t exist) and points out that no woman needs to identify with such words. I highlighted entire paragraphs in this short story. The book is worth the buy solely to read this tale.
“The Bird Chick” – 5/5 Stars
This story focuses on a pretty young girl living during the ’60s. She’s got everything it would take to become a star, but she doesn’t want to sell out to Hollywood’s ideals of beauty and women. So, instead she feeds the birds and everyone thinks she crazy. This story focuses on how society views women who do not conform and is also a favorite of mine.
“Broad from Abroad” – 4.5/5 Stars
This story focuses on a woman who likes to travel the world by herself. Yet another thing our society has such an inherent problem with. The story tells of how the woman is often overlooked or looked down on because she likes to explore. The narrator gives a wonderful outsider’s viewpoint on how ridiculous our society can be.
“The Girl in the Red Chair” – 4/5 Stars
This book focuses on a women who made some rash decisions and ended up in a relationship with someone who doesn’t make her happy and even turns out to have a bit of an abusive side. Eventually, he leaves her, and she’s left to deal with her feelings and how to speak out about what she experienced. The red chair becomes her way to let society know what’s happening. It’s sad that so many people don’t understand what she’s shouting about and brush her suffering under the rug.
“Mistress of Many Moons” – 5/5 Stars
This was another favorite. Oh my goodness, there are just so many good stories! This one zones in on a middle-aged woman who has chosen not to get married, but instead has had many affairs throughout her life. Brownrigg examines how a single woman is viewed versus a single man once they reach mid-life. Many fascinating points are made through talking about moons.
“She Who Caught Buses” – 5/5 Stars
This is probably one of the most direct stories in the book. It makes analogies that focus heavily on sexual abuse, sexual assault, and the loss of childhood innocence. Through talking about libraries and school buses, Brownrigg does a wonderful job of explaining why women generalize their fear toward all men. This story reduced me to tears because the truths Brownrigg speaks are so real and, most unfortunately, so many women can relate. Sure, not all men are bad, but there are enough that cause us to live in constant fear once our eyes have been opened to the cruelty.
“The Lady in the Desert” – 5/5 Stars
I had a hard time understanding this story at first and didn’t like it as much when I originally read through it. But, upon further analysis and thinking, I found that this story really stuck with me and helped me think of a disease so many women struggle with in a new light. This story focuses on anorexia and how the disease completely separates the person suffering from their friends, family, and society itself. It’s a lonely desert for those who have to fight this battle.
“Mars Needs Women” – 4/5 Stars
In my opinion, this was the weakest story in the book, and I wished Brownrigg hadn’t ended on it. Still, after much thought, I understand why she did. It brings all the stories together in a way and lets the reader know that our struggle isn’t over. That there’s still so far to go. This story centers around a woman who wants to run away where women are needed in society and not simply a bystander for men to use as they wish. It also impresses that our patriarchal society is so ingrained in our wiring that even other women tell women to bend to the will of men saying there’s nothing that can be done and to blindly accept our fate. This is a really moving story once you start to really think about it.
Okay, and now I’m sobbing all over again because this book is so amazing and contains so many relatable ideas. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN SHOULD READ THIS BOOK AND TAKE WHAT THEY CAN FROM IT. I cannot stress this enough. This book needs to be widely talked about and openly read.
Pick up a copy of this right now!
Seriously, every story in this book gave me chills, and I know I will be revisiting this book MANY times in the future. I highlighted nearly half the book because Brownrigg’s prose was so achingly beautiful.
This book isn’t in print anymore, but, my god, search this out until you can find a copy. It deserves to be read!
Up Tomorrow: Friday Favorites
(I’m trying this again, as I really had fun with it last week!)