Frozen Woman

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She is thirty years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She lives in a nice apartment. And yet she is a frozen woman. Like millions of others, she has felt her enthusiasm and curiosity - the strength and happiness that once were a part of her - ebb and then disappear under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition that everyone around her seems to consider normal for a woman is killing her. In A Frozen Woman, Annie Ernaux shows once again her gift for lending power and ...
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Overview

She is thirty years old, a teacher married to an executive, mother of two infant sons. She lives in a nice apartment. And yet she is a frozen woman. Like millions of others, she has felt her enthusiasm and curiosity - the strength and happiness that once were a part of her - ebb and then disappear under the weight of her daily routine. The very condition that everyone around her seems to consider normal for a woman is killing her. In A Frozen Woman, Annie Ernaux shows once again her gift for lending power and authenticity to a distinctly womanist voice. While each of Ernaux's books contains an autobiographical element, A Frozen Woman, is the most autobiographical of all. Where A Woman's Story described her relationship with her mother, and Simple Passion described a fleeting love affair with a younger man, A Frozen Woman concentrates the spotlight on Annie herself. Mixing affection, rage and bitterness, this is Ernaux at her most harrowing, affecting and inspiring.
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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.
Donna Seaman
We know that ice burns, so it comes as no great surprise that a novel with the word "frozen" in the title would be a scorcher, especially one written by Ernaux, the queen of emotional intensity. This is the third installment in her fictionalized family portrait. In "A Woman's Story" (1991), the narrator's mother was portrayed, in "A Man's Place" (1992) her father, and now, in a work notable for its seething anger, we have the daughter. An only child of unconventional parents, living in a typically provincial, and deadly, small French town, our heroine grows up without any firm ideas about gender roles and with what turns out to be unrealistic intellectual ambitions. Ernaux chronicles her heroine's coming-of-age and all too quick slide into marriage and motherhood with a jolting mix of ire and dark humor, covering some grueling feminist territory and reminding us of some hard facts we've grown weary of confronting. By translating her fury over the daily injustices of sexism into a bracing tale of one young woman's dashed dreams, Ernaux reanimates many still valid concerns and seems, in the process, to set some personal demons free.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568580296
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/1995
  • Pages: 160

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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