Frozen Woman

Frozen Woman

by Annie Ernaux
     
 

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A Frozen Woman charts Ernaux's teenage awakening, and then the parallel progression of her desire to be desirable and her ambition to fulfill herself in her chosen profession - with the inevitable conflict between the two. And then she is thirty years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She looks after their nice apartment, raises her

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Overview

A Frozen Woman charts Ernaux's teenage awakening, and then the parallel progression of her desire to be desirable and her ambition to fulfill herself in her chosen profession - with the inevitable conflict between the two. And then she is thirty years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She looks after their nice apartment, raises her children. And yet, like millions of other women, she has felt her enthusiasm and curiosity, her strength and her happiness, slowly ebb under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition that everyone around her seems to consider normal and admirable for a woman is killing her. While each of Ernaux's books contain an autobiographical element, A Frozen Woman, one of Ernaux's early works, concentrates the spotlight piercingly on Annie herself. Mixing affection, rage and bitterness, A Frozen Woman shows us Ernaux's developing art when she still relied on traditional narrative, before the shortened form emerged that has since become her trademark.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``My whole story as a woman: going down a flight of stairs, and hanging back at each step.'' Always a perceptive writer, French author Ernaux has outdone herself in this sharply painful story of a woman's aspirations slowly picked apart by reality. The narrator is a young woman who isn't so much frozen as caught-between the demands of her body and her mind, between what she can see for herself and what she is told, between being a wife/mother and being an individual. Ernaux's followers will recognize the narrator from Cleaned Out, A Man's Place and A Woman's Story, the daughter of a lower-middle class couple who run a combination grocery and cafe. Her unconventional mother encourages reading and studying at the expense of clean baseboards. For the narrator, adolescence brings the pressures of wanting to be wanted and comparing herself with a pernicious image of feminine perfection so unlike her own noisy, blowzy mother. As she gets older, that image is replaced by another fantasy: the romantic model of a man who will respect her and treat her as an equal. Marriage, a child, a move, a big job for her husband, and in the end, she is a woman who ``has never sat waiting on a bench for the afternoon to go by and the child to grow up.'' It's as though Ernaux has eavesdropped on the cathartic imaginary battles every woman has waged with her parents, her husband, her kids, herself. And while she is acutely self-aware, her writing is never self-pitying. ``Ten years later, I will be the one in a silent, sparkling kitchen, with flour and strawberries: I have stepped into the picture, and it's killing me.'' (May)
Library Journal
In this autobiographical novel, the acclaimed author of Simple Passion (LJ 9/15/93) portrays her life up to age 30. As a child, the narrator observed how her mother ran the business and her father was househusband. As a university student, she marries and has a child, then finds it difficult to complete her studies, frustrated that her husband has cast her in the role of servant. Ernaux acutely portrays the women in her heroine's life, dividing them according to their interest in being the "desirable" wife and mother or in being more liberated, with the narrator clearly preferring the latter role. This outstanding book clearly expresses a young girl's confusion and a young woman's trapped feeling. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781888363388
Publisher:
Seven Stories Press
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.54(d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1940, ANNIE ERNAUX grew up in Normandy, studied at Rouen University, and began teaching high school. From 1977 to 2000, she was a professor at the Centre National d’Enseignement par Correspondance. Her books, in particular A Man’s Place and A Woman’s Story, have become contemporary classics in France. She won the prestigious Prix Renaudot for A Man's Place when it was first published in French in 1984. The English edition was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. The English edition of A Woman’s Story was a New York Times Notable Book.

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