Overview

A Woman’s Story is Annie Ernaux’s "deeply affecting account of mothers and daughters, youth and age, and dreams and reality" (Kirkus Reviews). Upon her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s, Ernaux embarks on a daunting journey back through time, as she seeks to "capture the real woman, the one who existed independently from me, born on the outskirts of a small Normandy town, and who died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in the suburbs of Paris." She explores the bond between mother and daughter, tenuous and ...
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A Woman's Story

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Overview

A Woman’s Story is Annie Ernaux’s "deeply affecting account of mothers and daughters, youth and age, and dreams and reality" (Kirkus Reviews). Upon her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s, Ernaux embarks on a daunting journey back through time, as she seeks to "capture the real woman, the one who existed independently from me, born on the outskirts of a small Normandy town, and who died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in the suburbs of Paris." She explores the bond between mother and daughter, tenuous and unshakable at once, the alienating worlds that separate them, and the inescapable truth that we must lose the ones we love. In this quietly powerful tribute, Ernaux attempts to do her mother the greatest justice she can: to portray her as the individual she was. She writes, "I believe I am writing about my mother because it is my turn to bring her into the world."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For this Prix Renaudot-winning author, childhood was not just a time of life but a cottage industry. A trilogy of books intersect at her youth: the story of Ernaux's father, told in La Place ; her semi-autobiographical first novel, Cleaned Out ; and A Woman's Story . In this work, the woman of the title is the author's mother and the story is a brief, aching requiem for an intense but qualified relationship. Ernaux's mother she is never named, who was born in a small town in Normandy where she saw the fruition of the ``only ambition which lay within her reach: running a grocery business,'' finally succumbs to Alzheimer's disease. This life's very commonness presents difficulties for her daughter who is both ashamed of her mother and aware of the immense difficulties the woman surmounted to give her daughter something better. ``It was only when my mother . . . became history that I started to feel less alone and out of place in a world ruled by words and ideas, the world where she had wanted me to live.'' May
Library Journal
Born into a working-class environment of pride and alcoholism, the woman of this story emerges strong-willed, ambitious, and full of human contradictions. She is Ernaux's mother, whose death after a harrowing decline into Alzheimer's disease compelled the best-selling French author to re-create her life. The result is a slender volume that, like its subject, discourages easy categorization. Ernaux describes it as a blend of literature, sociology, and history, but it is also a memoir, a tribute, and a healing exercise for the bereaved author-narrator. Ernaux's style shifts between detached, journalistic reportage and intimate self-analysis. Her poignant, personal novel may appeal more to readers of belles lettres--and of recovery literature--than to readers of popular fiction and biography. La Place , a companion work about Ernaux's father, is forthcoming from the publisher.-- Janet Ingraham, Spartan burg Cty. P.L., S.C.
Booknews
A translation of Une femme 1988, Gallimard, in which French novelist Ernaux sparely and eloquently describes her mother's aging and death. Translated by Tanya Leslie and published by Four Walls Eight Windows, PO Box 548, Village Station, NY, NY 10014. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609803261
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 916,129
  • File size: 2 MB

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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