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From The Critics"Life stories retain their power when theories fade," writes theorist and critic Showalter in her gossipy and entertaining look at female icons. From Margaret Fuller, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Eleanor Marx and Mary Wollstonecraft to Simone de Beauvoir, Princess Diana, Zora Neale Hurston, Camille Paglia and Susan Sontag, she provides a glimpse into the lives of women she calls "revered symbols...known for the daring and range of their demand for a full life." Throughout Showalter's book readers meet or revisit wily women who nonetheless suffered a range of ills, among them anorexia and depression. Their personal frailties—alongside their considerable, sometimes staggering, achievements—make their stories memorable. In the end, however, Showalter's book, like a distaff Profiles in Courage, celebrates the parts, not the whole. It leaves the reader longing for the empowerment of all women, not just the aggressive, if awesome, few.
—Eleanor J. Bader