Woman on the Edge of Time
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Woman on the Edge of Time

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  7,702 ratings  ·  471 reviews
First published in 1979, Marge Piercy's novel is both a drama of survival and a Utopian epic. Connie Ramos, 37, Mexican-American and unfairly incarcerated in a mental hospital, is the enduring central character in a book about differing visions of the future.
Paperback, 381 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Women's Press (UK) (first published May 1st 1976)
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Max Gordon
Aug 12, 2013 Max Gordon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious readers

It’s interesting how the lens of three decades of life experience can sharpen the focus of certain stories—and even parts of stories. When I first read Woman on the Edge of Time not long after it was published (1976), I was barely into my 20s and already a reliable cog in the corporate machine. At that time, I enjoyed Marge Piercy’s story of a 37-year-old Chicana woman in New York whose already-complicated life takes a twist for the bizarre when she begins to communicate with an ambassador from

...more
Isis
Hands down one of my all time favorite books - I'm certain some of that has to do with the point in my life during which I read it, however it shall always remain an ultimate favorite. The issues the Ms Piercy so deftly addresses are both the main focus of the story and completely secondary, almost an after thought. . . I never got the feeling of being preached at, yet so many important, and delicate, subjects were addressed throughout this novel. Mental illness, racism, gender equality (or rath...more
Lisa Vegan
The most important thing to know about this book is that it was first published in 1976. This is such a late 1960s-early-mid 1970s story! It’s funny because part of it takes place in the mid 70s and part takes place in the 22nd century. The 22nd century appears as though imagined in the 1970s. So, the future seems dated somehow. I suspect I would have thought it was brilliant if I’d read it over three decades ago. Now, I cringed quite a bit and thought it was unintentionally humorous at times.

Th...more
Yona
Mar 10, 2012 Yona rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Revolutionaries
Recommended to Yona by: Mom
The book tells the story of a hispanic woman, Connie, who has the ability to communicate with a group of people from the future. The story cuts back and forth between her 1970's life in a mental institution (which has nothing to do with her ability to talk to people in the future) and the future community.

I thought this book spoke well to three broad topics:
-What it meant to be a mental patient in the 70's
-What the future could be like if we continue to pollute our planet and our bodies with syn...more
Terence
Mar 11, 2010 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of utopian/dystopian SF, feminist SF (tho any SF fan would benefit)
Recommended to Terence by: GR Group Read
Shelves: sf-fantasy
At last - a book I've been meaning to put on the wish list and that's on one of my group's Reads next month. (Even better - my library has a copy in house!)

************************

Rating: 3.3-3.5 stars
If the last two novels I had read before this had been Paul McAuley's The Quiet War and Bruce Sterling's The Caryatids then I may have nudged my rating into the 4-star category but they weren't. Instead they were Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, Mr. Fortune's Maggot and Summer Will Show, an...more
Jen
This book is very imaginative, although a bit dated at times. Marge Piercy is a unique writer, in that she is very good at writing complex characters with strengths and flaws. Similiarly, her Utopian Society of the future has had to sacrifice some things that are extremely important to Connie (or nearly any 20th/ 21st C person) in order to create a sustaining and egalitarian society.

This novel also has some nice poetic moments. In one of the more illustrative passages, Connie's friends from the...more
Stephanie
Published in 1976, this book was remarkably prescient. The way that Piercy has structured her utopian community of the future is not too far off the direction that alternative communities have been moving since the '60s -- and which has only accelerated in recent years, with the greater focus on sustainability and alternate energy sources. She also does a nice job of contrasting the plausible future utopia with an equally plausible dystopia, in which everything is state-controlled, bio-engineere...more
sandra
Nov 16, 2007 sandra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jennifer K./people who are sometimes disappointed by Margaret Atwood
It's been a while, but I remember liking this book a lot. It has some fantastic notions and weird/interesting ideas within its future utopia (futuropia? femitopia?) that are fun to agree or disagree with.

Unlike other utopia novels, Piercy gives you room to agree or not. This is admirable and is as it should be; I can't stand force-feeding-shrill-polemic books (Ayn Rand, I'm looking at you). As John Stuart Mill said, "The worst offense that can be committed by a polemic is to stigmatize those wh...more
Mat
70's feminist tentative-utopia. As that genre goes, i really like this one. It comes more from the gender fluid/ androgyny positive side of things than the essentialist "women are more nurturing shit", which i liked. And i liked that the main character was a mad woman and that madness was well explored, if slightly simplistically at times. I don't like it's anti-cityness or certain aspects of uniformity that it espouses, but it's pretty tolerable for the traditions it adheres to. Those tradition...more
Ben Babcock
I'm ambivalent about this book. The best way to describe my reservation with Woman on the Edge of Time is that I was never comfortable suspending my disbelief. I tried to make myself willing to go where Marge Piercy was taking me but never quite got there. Although the book steadily improved from its chaotic but very dull beginning, it never involved me in the way I require to get much satisfaction from reading. In the end, I was reading the book to finish it instead of because I was eager to fi...more
Valerie
Apr 16, 2007 Valerie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: feminists into science fiction
i read this book in a day because it was for college. it's really good though.

it's about this lady who sometimes travels into this utopian-egalitarian future. she lives in an insane asylum so you're not supposed to know if she's crazy or really time traveling. the end is a surprise.

i thought it was really interesting to read about what this author thought a feminist utopia would look like. i thought it was fun to agree or disagree with aspects of it and i unintentionally started designing my ow...more
Sarah
Still mulling this one over. It was an absolutely compelling read. My heart went out to Connie from the first page. Her treatment by the mental health system was horrifying, and the author's commentary on the treatment of poor people and people of color by society seemed all too real.
Even after my lengthy intermission (I had to return the book to the library, and then wait for the hold to work its way back to me), I found myself instantly caught up in it again.
The only thing I'm on the fence a...more
Jim
This is one of my favorite books and one that had a pretty profound influence on me. I guess you could call the future society she imagines a "feminist utopia" (as I've seen in reviews on this site). When I read it for a Comparative Literature class I was impressed by the way the family unit and community itself were structured and functioned. And its really stuck with me a long time and seems to have grown with me subconsciously. I've read it a couple times since and the "utopia" has seemed a l...more
Linda Robinson
Talking with a friend today about how to review this book, she said "start with the ending." Because it's unusual, in much the same way the entire novel is unusual. Consuelo Ramos is a 35 year old Chicana woman, poor, struggling, pummeled by poverty and the people around her. Piercy builds our knowledge of Connie's character with spiny tidbits that don't go down easy: just when Connie couldn't seem more stupid, we are led with wicked smart prose to understand that few of her circumstances are he...more
Ashley
Amazing if only for the introduction of 'per' as a gender neutral pronoun, Brilliant....and the social commentary is great as well..
Dennis
Mar 25, 2008 Dennis rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes bad sci-fi or worse chick-lit
Recommended to Dennis by: Gladice (who will pay)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mquin Quintana
This book could be good. Could. I have to admit, I read it to page 150 and stopped. The main character is a beat-up and bruised 40 year old Chicana living in New York. She is dead broke poor, has been beaten on and mistreated by men numerous times, and disliked herself so much at one point that she beat her 4 year old daughter (whom she saw as part of herself). She was put in a mental institution numerous times; the second time for smashing in the nose of her niece's pimp after he had beat up he...more
John
Sep 04, 2014 John rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading about utopia
Shelves: science-fiction
TL;DR: I see where others may appreciate the work, but the stuff I have listed in my spoiler section killed it for me.

I want to like this book. It’s one of those rare science fiction books that contains many great ideas in action, and it represents segments of the population that rarely get a say in the genre. After reading a lot of science fiction that panders to white people, I felt like this was a great change of pace. I was primed to enjoy it, to hear new perspectives on distant horizons.

Wit...more
Wealhtheow
Mar 31, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: think_galactic
This is my favorite kind of feminist book, akin in many ways to the stories of Octavia Butler and Joanna Russ. Consuelo is a woman living a hopeless life in modern America. Her lover is dead, her child has been taken from her, and there is literally no one alive who respects her. She is mired in a mental hospital, where she begins having visions of the future.
Fiona Moyler
This book took up my every waking hour while I was reading it, and indeed by the end I was having dreams about it too! Unfortunately my unconscious brain is not a good author, and the bits of plot I dreamed were rubbish!

I loved reading about the utopian society, but I didn't read it entirely without misgivings. It was fun to wonder would things be better this or that way, but also I found myself wondering what exactly the author intended at some points. I mean, I know that Connie's observation...more
Lina
There are some books that just connect with you from the word go and "Woman on the Edge of Time" just really grabbed me in. Connie is a hard character to love for some people, but I understand her bitterness and every thing she said: both good and bad, I understood. That, above everything else, made me love this book.

Connie Ramos, in trying to protect her niece from a violent boyfriend ends up being returned to a mental hospital where she is considered to be insane. While struggling to hold on t...more
MRM
I feel harsh giving this book only two stars, but since my reaction was "it was okay," two stars is accurate in the GoodReads context. (Actually, my true reaction was "it was fucking depressing," though after closing the book and reflecting, there's of course a more nuanced reaction to be had.)

An anarchist reading group whose meetings I've been attending held a discussion of this book, which is why I picked it up in the first place. One member said that Piercy's vision of a non-hierarchical soci...more
Megan Baxter
There were times when I was so frustrated with the main character. She was driving me crazy. She was walking through an entirely different world and assuming everything was the same. I realized why this was bothering me - I was wanting and expecting her to react more like a science fiction reader. (And many science fiction characters.)

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meant...more
sara
Aug 01, 2007 sara rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hmm
Although I love Marge Piercy and I know this is one of the OG Utopian Feminist novels, I could barely tolerate this book. I did find small accuracies in her view of the future, but for the most part it was ridiculous, not to mention uber-depressing. Not for the faint-of-heart... or the realists.
Cindy
I'm wavering between 4 and 5 stars. I really, really enjoyed the story and the writing, and I was totally absorbed. So, even though the book has flaws, I rounded up to 5.

Books I couldn't help think of while reading Woman on the Edge of Time:
*The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Treatment of poor minority women, and issues of consent)
*One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Who's crazy in the loony bin?)
*My Lobotomy (Memoir from a former patient who had a forced lobotomy when he was a child)
*To Say Not...more
Cindy
I read this book back in college (when I took a "Science Fiction Utopian/Dystopian Novels" class) and didn't remember much of it. I carried the book around for a while, because I love Marge Piercy. I was about to donate it away when my cousin mentioned that it was one of her top 10 favorites, so I decided to re-read it. I'm glad I did!!

The book was written back in the early '70's, and its one of the few Piercy books I know of (which isn't really a lot) that tries to be so Sci Fi'ey... so I have...more
Andrea Blythe
After smashing her niece's pimp in the face with a bottle, Connie Ramos is declared violently insane. Trapped in the terrible tedium of the asylum ward, Connie, as a receiver, is able to escapes via her connection with Luciente to the year 2137. She sees first hand a utopian society, in which division of gender and race is nonexistent and people live in peace and connection with the earth and its animals. Meanwhile, in her own time, the doctors have signed her up for a dangerous experiment that...more
Cyndy Aleo
I was first introduced to the novels and poetry of Marge Piercy when I was in college and very focused on the writings of women, especially feminist writings. In going through a bunch of books I had been keeping at my parents' house, I discovered boxes of books I probably haven't read in over ten years, one of which was Woman on the Edge of Time.

::: Edge of Time, Edge of Reason :::

Connie Ramos, the protagonist, is a middle-aged Hispanic woman living in poverty in New York City. Already committed...more
Danika Dinsmore
I loved parts of this book and thought others dragged on too long. There was a lot of talking and exposition where I suddenly felt like I was stuck inside Piercy's "What I did on my Summer Vacation: Toured a Utopian Society."

When I take a step back and think about WHEN this was written (early 70's), it's a bit mind-blowing, really. In addition, the creation of an entire way of speaking - all the future slang - is incredible. I'm sure many readers thought this annoying or clunky, but I admired h...more
Robyn
This book took me back to my early 20's when I first read it. I didn't realize it then, but it is a really great period piece. The future embodies all the feminist, socialist ideals of the 60's and 70's.

I still love this book because the protagonist, Connie Ramos, is raw and her life is so rough around the edges. Too often, authors produce sanitized characters (but I think their readers want this). But Marge Piercy really makes you feel how difficult every day life is for Connie - even the smal...more
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500 Great Books B...: Woman on the Edge of Time - Marge Piercy 1 2 Jul 20, 2014 06:05PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Count for ISBN 0449210820 2 158 Oct 21, 2013 11:36AM  
Connie and her daughter 5 28 Sep 13, 2013 07:25PM  
FABClub (Female A...: Woman on the Edge of Time (June/July 2012) 3 11 Jun 11, 2012 06:36PM  
Names 1 10 Mar 15, 2012 10:42PM  
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Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a...more
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He, She and It Gone to Soldiers The Moon Is Always Female: Poems Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York City of Darkness, City of Light

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“We can only know what we can truly imagine. Finally what we see comes from ourselves.” 15 likes
“The anger of the weak never goes away, Professor, it just gets a little moldy. It molds like a beautiful blue cheese in the dark, growing stronger, and more interesting. The poor and the weak die with all their anger intact and probably those angers go on growing in the dark of the grave like the hair and the nails.” 7 likes
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