Frozen Woman

Frozen Woman

by Annie Ernaux
     
 

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This sequel to A Man's Place and prequel to Simple Passion is Ernaux's description of a transformation from girlhood into womanhood. A fictionalized account of the author's teenage awakening and of her later life as a 30-year-old married teacher and mother of two infant sons, A Frozen Woman mixes affection, rage, and bitterness to reveal Ernaux at her most harrowing,

Overview

This sequel to A Man's Place and prequel to Simple Passion is Ernaux's description of a transformation from girlhood into womanhood. A fictionalized account of the author's teenage awakening and of her later life as a 30-year-old married teacher and mother of two infant sons, A Frozen Woman mixes affection, rage, and bitterness to reveal Ernaux at her most harrowing, affecting, and inspiring.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568580296
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/01/1995
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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