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Small Changes

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  769 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Small Changes is the explosive novel of women struggling to make their places in a man's world. Set against the early days of the feminist movement, it tells of two women and the choices they must make.

Intelligent, sensual Miriam Berg trades her doctorate for marriage and security, only to find herself hungry for a life of her own but terrified of losing her husband Shy,
Paperback, 562 pages
Published 1997 by Fawcett Columbine (first published 1973)
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Donna Davis
This title was originally published in 1973 during the second wave of feminism that followed the US Civil Rights movement, and then the anti-war movement against the US invasion of Vietnam. Marge Piercy is a prominent veteran writer who spoke to women’s issues during that time and in years to follow. She doesn’t need my review, and neither does Open Road Integrated Media, I suspect, but my thanks go to them and Net Galley for letting me reread this wonderful novel digitally. I received this copy ...more
Cyndy Aleo
May 20, 2011 Cyndy Aleo rated it did not like it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Almost ten years ago I discovered the author Marge Piercy when I read her novel He, She, and It. As I do with any author whose book I really, really love, I ran right out and bought every other book of hers I could get my hands on, including Small Changes, which the cover blurb promised showcased two women and the changes they make in their lives.

::: First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage :::

The first character we meet is Beth, a recent high school student who is apparently getting married to her
Leni Rayburn
Jun 19, 2014 Leni Rayburn rated it liked it
Apparently I like Marge Piercy's poetry, which I read in college, a lot more than her prose. I read over 500 pages of this 999 novel before giving up. There are several interconnected story lines here - the first of a bride who gives up on her marriage (and no one will blame here who reads it). It abruptly changes to one of her Greenwich Village friends/ housemates - an intellectual Jewish woman with a highly dysfunctional family - who lets the men in her life walk all over her. After hundreds o ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Merry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When I read this in the early 70s, I thought it was one of the best depictions of 60s alternative life I'd read. I read the whole thing in a couple of days.
Feb 28, 2008 Ellie rated it really liked it
Must read.
Despite the fact that this book is set in the 1960s/70s, I found I could relate all too well to the characters Piercy has created here. Watching Beth and Miriam as they go through their relationships (mostly with men) was painful in the way that watching a good friend date shitty men is painful. It is very much about women's emotional labour (though the book never uses that relatively modern term) and unpaid labour such as housework.

Miriam, in particular, felt like a close friend who is miserab
Aug 01, 2016 Kat rated it it was amazing
Women in Marge Piercy’s novels have messy lives, and I wonder if that’s why Small Changes got short shrift in a one-line review in The New York Times in 1973: “A rambling story of two women, one working class, the other middle class, and their doomed stratagems for escaping hellish marriages.” No mention of the fact that the two women are radical feminists, or of Piercy’s messy, brilliant details about how we lived then: applying diaphragm jelly, going on gay rights marches, and burning bread.

Oct 21, 2008 Yarrow rated it it was amazing
i found this book when i was 16 years old, and it, along with much of Piercy's early poetry, has undeniably had a formative impact on some of the ways i think and feel about relationships, gender, politics, interpersonal relations. it couldn't have had that impact if i wasn't already bending that direction, but rereading it (for maybe the 7th or 8th time) 20 years later, i can see it very clearly. Piercy is problematically second-wave in the way she handles gender dynamics -- i don't think there ...more
Jessica Bronder
Apr 10, 2016 Jessica Bronder rated it really liked it
This story is about two women Beth and Miriam. Beth is marring her boyfriend from high school. He expects her to be the standard stay at home mother while he watches her maintain the house. But Beth has other dreams and she ends up running away to find herself. We also follow Miriam is a graduate from MIT and bounces around in her relationships. She is against the traditional opinion of marriage and makes her way. This story follows their different paths in life.

This story is based in the 70’s w
Apr 20, 2016 Mandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This overly long and detailed novel is a portrait of the 1970s and the rise of feminism, the era of women rebelling against the past when they “knew their place” and were expected to keep to it. From an historical point of view you can’t fault it. It’s all here. Page after page after page of it. It starts quite promisingly with the young Beth falling into marriage and then gradually realising how restricted her life is. She finally finds the strength to escape and runs away to New York where a w ...more
Jun 12, 2016 Jade rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
*Free copy given by Netgalley and Open Road Integrated Media for an honest review*

I am not usually harsh with my ratings but I couldn't bring myself to give this book more than two stars. In over 500 pages the author failed to create a connection between the characters and myself. I am a fan of poetry and I love when when structure and use create underlying meanings in a story but I just didnt feel that "Aha!" moment while I read. I expected more character development with the main characters bu
Alexis Leon
Jun 13, 2010 Alexis Leon rated it liked it
An epic 542 page tome that tells the respective stories of two women coming of age and finding themselves in the beginning and middle of the feminist movement Ugly duckling turned Jewish seductress Miriam torn between two men she loves equally, passionately, and differently. Timid Beth who marries the man she believes she loves and decides to escape the lie she's folded into. And happily the twain shall meet, and have adventures and friendship in Boston, discovering and re-discovering their selv ...more
Samantha Luce
Apr 06, 2016 Samantha Luce rated it really liked it
If you enjoyed the movie, Carol then you may want to check this book out. It's another period piece detailing the struggle of women who don't fit the cookie cutter stereotypical roles of being stay at home wife/mothers. These women long for something else and they are brave enough to venture out and try to find it. There's lots of detail about what was happening in the 60s and 70s. The struggle was real and sadly it still is today, but thankfully getting a little better. Baby steps.
I give it a
Mike Finn
Feb 22, 2016 Mike Finn rated it it was ok
When you reach a certain age you begin to read historical books set in your own lifetime! This is certainly one of those books. Just so much of it was set in worst case 60s social setting, with women written about as if they had the whole world set against them, with man, all men, out to insist their women behaved in a certain way. I nearly gave up a number of times but saw it through not really feeling very positive about the whole thing. Pretty dreary stuff with so much off-focus emptying repe ...more
May 17, 2012 Joanna rated it it was ok
Meh. I got to know the characters--it was a long book--and felt at loose ends when it ended, but not for long. I'm not sure if this just wasn't one of Marge Piercy's more stellar books or if Marge Piercy is just not that stellar to me. To this end, I'll choose another one to read--some of her sentences were amazing and kept me coming back for more. Unfortunately, they were few and far between. Glad I checked this one out from the library.
Mar 25, 2008 Dennis rated it liked it
This was a somewhat predictable yet somewhat unpredictable book because none of the women ended up precisely where I thought they would at the end of the story. A tale of the poor options offered to women sometimes and the poor choices they sometimes make but with the end result being that given the choices they haveto change things, they sometimes choose well and sometimes not. What I liked was that this really reflected the unpredicatability of it all very well.
Jun 17, 2008 Shelley rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, fiction, queer
I felt like I was sludging through this book the whole time. A lot of the dialogue seemed like words that didn't mean anything. Pretty much all the male characters are dicks. There were a lot of things that seemed outrageous to me, which made me realize how much I take for granted that feminism has done. I really wanted to like it more than I did.
Feb 27, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
I kept reading this book because the quality of the writing was good but the characters' constant nattering about relationships drove me crazy. It was interesting to see how their interactions changed over time, but I wasn't that engaged with most of the people to begin with. The novel felt like a giant math problem without resolution. Disappointing as I had heard good things about this book.
Aug 25, 2012 D'Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I like Marge Piercy's poetry, so when I learned that in the 1970's she wrote fiction with lesbian characters in it in the I was like, "Huh?" So I read one. The takeaway from this book is that men were total dicks in the 70's and that women were better off with women. Marriage is a trap, run for your lives. The end.
Oct 05, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing
This was the first Marge Piercy I read some 30 years ago and I was hooked. When I get excited by an author, I tend to read everything I can find by her until I'm sated and that's what I did with Piercy. I do have a couple of her books on my shelf that I haven't read, Vida being one of them. Her poetry rocks too.
Feb 05, 2011 Patty rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
I actually returned this book to the library without finishing it. I got about halfway through. I had really liked Woman on the Edge of Time by the same author, but found this dragged. Lots of details about Beth and Miriam's love lives and yes, they are not accepting the traditional roles. But I really don't care about the details. Maybe it's me.
Aug 24, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it
I read this not long after it came out in the 70s. It is an intimate tale and I resonated with both of the women characters. It served as a coming-of-age tale for me to learn from. The book was a bit long-winded and I felt that it should have ended 50 pages earlier - there was a natural ending point that she blew past. But still I loved the book
Maureen Chew
May 05, 2015 Maureen Chew rated it really liked it
I have read other Marge Piercy books and enjoyed her point of view. This book is good.....seemed a bit dated concerning attitudes toward women in the workplace and in the home. I would like to think we have made some improvements since this book was published! Still have a ways to go.
I must have read this book when I was in college or not long after I graduated. Honestly, I remember just enough about it (after reading other reviews)to know that I read it, but not enough to remember how much I did or did not like it. I'm going to give it three stars and leave it at that.
May 15, 2016 Aerion rated it liked it
I enjoyed the feminist themes of this book, I just found it to be a little vanilla and not at all intersectional or inclusive. But what More could one expect from second wave white women's feminism movements.
Mar 20, 2011 Monica rated it it was amazing
Wow- what a timeless novel about the challenges of being a woman. I felt as if I identified with each female character! Beautifully written!
Nov 26, 2011 Celeste rated it did not like it
So horrifyingly bad, it almost made me want to renounce feminism--just awful!
Oct 05, 2009 Lauren added it
I read this so long ago I can barely rmember it. Should I reread?
Jan 09, 2013 Abra rated it really liked it
A good read for International Women's Day
Sep 03, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
powerful stuff...I read it about the same time as I read
John Sayles' 'Union Dues.' I thought the characters in this
novel maybe knew the characters in the other novel...
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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 about Marge Piercy...

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