Woman's Life: The Story of an Ordinary American and Her Extraordinary Generation

Overview

Turning the idea of celebrity biography inside out, Susan Cheever explores the heart and mind of her generation with this powerful true story of the life of an ordinary woman whose experiences as a wife, mother, lover, teacher, and friend are a fascinating prism for readers of any generation. At forty-five, Linda Green is a statistical norm: a working mother of two children who lives with her second husband in a Boston suburb. But no life is a mere statistic, and the story of Linda Green has the trajectory and ...
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1996 Hard cover Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards.

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Overview

Turning the idea of celebrity biography inside out, Susan Cheever explores the heart and mind of her generation with this powerful true story of the life of an ordinary woman whose experiences as a wife, mother, lover, teacher, and friend are a fascinating prism for readers of any generation. At forty-five, Linda Green is a statistical norm: a working mother of two children who lives with her second husband in a Boston suburb. But no life is a mere statistic, and the story of Linda Green has the trajectory and the power of a novel. At the age of five, pretty Linda was her parents' princess, at sixteen she was a cheerleader, but by the time she was twenty she and her high-school-sweetheart husband were moving down an uncharted road marked the 1960s. How and why Linda moved from being the girl next door to starting a commune and experimenting with drugs and open marriage to being the controversial suburban mother and teacher she is now is the frame that holds this story together. But it's Cheever's talent for intimately, and honestly, describing the unique social, intellectual, and psychological pressures women like Linda confront that infuses this story with its harsh, eloquent beauty.

An acclaimed writer takes a revisionist feminist look at what it means to be a woman, mother and worker today with this powerful true story of the life of Linda Green. How and why Linda goes from being the girl next door to starting a commune and experimenting with drugs to being a controversial suburban mother and teacher is the frame that holds this story together.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Linda Green, a 1960s hippie who lived on a Vermont commune, took LSD and let herself be pushed into an open marriage by her bullying, pot-smoking first husband, is now a suburban mother of two, a high-school Spanish and French teacher and a Boston lawyer's wife ``settled into a routine that is both conventional and bourgeois.'' But Linda, 46, is no sellout, in Cheever's ( Home Before Dark ) empathic, beautifully controlled portrait. Instead, she is emblematic of ``the average American woman, unrecognized, unknown, and often unappreciated, trying to hold it all together--family, job, health, attractiveness, sanity.'' Daughter of a Brooklyn hat salesman who moved his family to Passaic, N.J., Linda, by this account, was molded by a manipulative mother who instructed her to act as if she were always having fun. After her rebellious first marriage collapsed, she moved in with her former student, Clint Donahue, marrying him in 1978. Despite their considerable difference in age and religion (he's a devout Catholic, she's Jewish), their marriage has weathered crises--in no small measure, Cheever suggests, because of Linda's tireless accommodation to the needs of her husband and two daughters. Author tour. (June)
Library Journal
Cheever's initial idea for her biographical subject was a remarkable famous woman, but she decided instead on a supposedly average woman without the privileges and limited scope of most heroines. Cheever's revised thesis required a woman emblematic of her generation, and Linda Green, a 45-year-old schoolteacher with two children, appeared to be a likely candidate. Cheever fails to transform Green into an ``everywoman;'' instead, she exposes and examines Green's strengths and weaknesses, manipulations by her family, and challenges in maintaining a balance between her professional and domestic life. While the changing values and attitudes of Green's generation do affect her outlook, this is really a case study of how certain pressures and conditions have affected the life of one person. Cheever has previously written in the biographical mode about her own family (Home Before Dark, Houghton, 1984; Treetops, LJ 3/15/91), and she is honest, compassionate, subjective, and voyeuristic, all which work to this book's advantage. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Janice Braun, Hoover Institution Lib., Stanford, Cal.
Alice Joyce
Cheever exposes the life of a married, working mother who in many ways epitomizes Cheever's own generation. With two children, a second husband, a house in the suburbs, and a teaching career, Linda Green easily represents any number of baby boomers. Cheever's book presents a considered analysis of women's changing roles during the past three decades while it shows up aspects of sexual politics that have remained constant. Readers who came of age during the 1960s may find Green's personal history (from attendance at Woodstock to experimentation with drugs and an open marriage) to be evocative at the least. A chronicle noteworthy for its startling candor and incisive rendering of the factors that weigh heavily on women's lives.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517169476
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Pages: 254

Meet the Author

Susan Cheever
Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever is the bestselling author of eleven previous books, including five novels and the memoirs Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark. Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Corporation of Yaddo, and a member of the Author's Guild Council. She writes a weekly column for Newsday and teaches in the Bennington College M.F.A. program. She lives in New York City with her family.

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