The Women's Room
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The Women's Room

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  4,052 ratings  ·  331 reviews
The bestselling feminist novel that awakened both women and men, The Women's Room follows the transformation of Mira Ward and her circle as the women's movement begins to have an impact on their lives. A biting social commentary on an emotional world gone silently haywire, The Women's Room is a modern classic that offers piercing insight into the social norms accepted so b...more
Paperback, 526 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1977)
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Community Reviews

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Louise
It had been a really shocking expreince for a girl of 16 in Tehran to read the story of a woman in the 60s who had almost the same situation the women today in Iran have.
I had read a room of one's own & so many other feminist (?) books by the time, but I can not say that they had that great effect on me... It was so awakening.
Dottie
One of a circle of neighbors who for a period of months sometime in the seventies gathered nearly every afternoon to talk and have a drink before dispersing to prepare meals for families loaned me this book or recommended it - I think I went and bought my own copy to read. I began it about 4:30 one day and think there may have been pizza at my house for dinner that evening because I barely stopped reading from the moment I began to the moment I finished -- which was around 10:30 the next morning...more
Rebecca
Jul 10, 2012 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rebecca by: Landi Turner
Wow. I'm not sure how to encapsulate this important 500-page feminist novel in a review, so I'll keep my comments brief and just suggest strongly that anyone with an interest in feminist thought or feminist history must read this incredibly raw, honest and ominous novel.

It's one of those vital books that has fallen off of our radar. Apparently it was extremely popular when it came out in 1977, but I'm aghast that my generation has, for the most part, not even heard of it. Though a historic nove...more
Kayla Rae Whitaker
Jan 14, 2008 Kayla Rae Whitaker rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in women's studies, domestic life, gender in the 1950s and 1960s
Shelves: novels
In retrospect, I can say that, while "The Women's Room" wasn't always an enjoyable book, it was an important book, a narrative worthy of my time and attention in that it is a significant perspective of the life of the middle-class woman pre- and post- second wave feminism. It is often difficult for young adult women to appreciate our nearness, in terms of decades, to an American system which legalized and regulated the condemnation of the single woman. However, Marilyn French creates engaging sn...more
Mandy
Plus ça change....I didn't expect this key text of the feminist movement to have the same impact on me that it did all those decades ago, but in fact it had even more of an impact on me this time, because I've now had children and a lot of the book - the best part of it actually - is about being a mother, and the conflicts that arise from that. But what really struck me was how little things have changed in women's personal lives. In theory we now have equality, and in theory can aspire to anyth...more
Beth
An important book for me (and for more than a few women I know). The Women's Room is sort of Betty Friedan/The Feminine Mystique in novel form. The depictions of the middle-class lives of women and mothers in the 1950s and early 1960s are compelling. The stories of the women who moved in or into other realms in the later 1960s and through the 1970s show that sexism certainly didn't evaporate with feminism or with womens' moves out of an entirely domestic sphere.
Terri Lynn
I was 18 years old and just starting college when this book was published. That is when I read it. I was taking a course in cultural anthropology and my professor, a lesbian who was a strong feminist, had become something of a role model for me because I wanted to earn a doctorate myself though not in her field. I heard from so many males that they all knew we were there to earn our MRS degree and nothing more. As I read this book and examined how completely it rang true, I was so enraged, my pr...more
Gretchen
apparently my John Irving - Garp book experience did NOT cure me of my need to finish books i can't stand. because this was the other book i was trudging through at the same time, all 576 worthless pages that took up way too much of my time and left me with only a small grim satisfaction that at least i read the entire thing and can say with UTTER CONFIDENCE, that it sucked. maybe that is why i don't give up on books, because i don't want to find out later that i quit right before it got good.
i...more
BohoMon
I doubt that many young (this generation) readers could relate to this book. And I think that is wonderful - because it is due to this book, others like it, and all the women of the past who questioned and caused changes that this generation can feel freer as women.

But it is also risky to dismiss it. We need to go beyond the specifics of the 50s/60s/70s woman and to the fundamentals.

Today, in 2012, in developed countries, women still do the majority of the housework, still do the majority of th...more
Amy Conchie
My mother gave me 'the Women's Room' with the caveat that when she first read it it made her so angry that she wouldn't speak to my father all weekend (the poor man did nothing!). It is this brand of feminism that, as a practical but vocal advocate of women's continual advancement, thoroughly riles me up. The worthless proselytizing characters are barely more than two-dimensional; the plot conveniently buckles in order to ensure they receive the most punishment at the hands of their oppressors....more
Hannah
What can I say? The Women's Room was a rollercoaster ride of a book. It's unapologetically depressing from the very start, almost too brazenly in-your-face till midway, where Mira's life starts seemingly (dare I say it) comforming (!) to stereotypical feminists of the 70s. Then suddenly, about 100 pages till the end of the book, it's like one bomb drops after the other and by the end of it all, the reader is left as weary as Mira's narrative. I understand how this book would have been highly inf...more
Ronald Wise
This novel has been in my personal collection since 1981, when I first read it and was deeply touched by certain scenes, but had since forgotten most of it. Reading it 26 years later brought back some of the earlier memories, but now through an awareness of how my perceptions have changed since then. Perhaps no longer directly relevant to the feminist cause today, this book is still a powerful overview of women's issues from my and my parents's generations. This one has re-emerged near the top o...more
Alice
What I learned from this book:

- I am about as privileged as is possible in terms of when and where I was born.
- This fact isn't going to shield me from the more insidious forms of subordination that still permeate most things.
- Generational patterns are really difficult to break, and if we think "everything's different now" we're overlooking some pretty big similarities.
- There's still a hell of a lot of work to do.
- I really don't want to get married.
Elyssa
I first read this in college and a few times after that. It really brought to life the concepts outlined in The Feminine Mystique. It illustrated the roots of the feminist movement, which were mostly based on women's discontent and emptiness about being limited to the role of wife and mother. The characters are pretty much middle class white women, which is not the voice of all feminists at that time, but still an interesting one.
Ruth
I remember that I was impressed enough to keep my eye out for more French. At the time (almost twenty years ago at the time of this writing), I hadn't read much (any?) books of this genre; as a 'kid' I categorized anything about women as 'romance' and thus summarily dismissed them. I wanted science fiction and more science fiction, so my reading tastes were sorely out of balance (not that I wanted balance back then). It is amazing what lack of huge sources of reading material can do for that bal...more
Holly
I thought this book was amazing and eye-opening when I read it in high school (college?) Young and idealistic and raised ina conservative home and all that.

Now it just smacks of a brand and era of feminism that I can't relate to anymore.
Shivpea
Having never heard of this book before, when I picked it up and started to read it I had no preconceived notions about its contents apart from what was written on the back cover. Obviously the book deals with a heavy topic, the Feminist movement and how women were (and in some cases still are) treated by society at large.

I have to say I'm not a big fan of this book. I can appreciate French's writing style but as for the content, I found it and the characters irritating, simplistic, one dimensio...more
Sarah
I have to say at the outset that I am confused by this book. There is no doubt that it is a well written and engaging read. I tried to bear in mind that it was almost 40 years old but my mind kept skipping back and forth on its opinion of the book. On the one hand I was thankful for how much the lives of women in the western world have changed since the fifties, sixties and seventies and then at the same time that the world has not really moved on at all. The same issues French writes about stil...more
ReaderSP
I read this book only recently after seeing it a reviewers list of books that they will read again and again, I had not heard of this book previously or the author.
The story follows Myra as she goes through her life. It giver her accounts of being a woman in the 50's to 70's. There are many humorous moments in the book as well as many serious messages. I was not surprised to learn that this book is favoured by teachers and reading groups as there are a lot of areas of discussion. As I am a woman...more
Maren
A feminist classic, no doubt, and one that I really enjoyed for about 3/4 of the way through. The last 1/4 of the book I barely skimmed so it technically should go into my "tried but failed" pile, though that's usually where I consign books that I can't even get past page 20 of.

So, this wasn't like that, though I do think The Women's Room loses its thrust around halfway through. In following a character named "Mira" and the group of women who come in an out of her life (a mix of other housewive...more
Lisa
Wow! What a book. I have been puzzled and bothered about the way men and women relate to one another all my life. Having been a married woman for 20 years, I have experienced or witnessed equivalent scenarios to several of the characters in the book. The book takes the reader through stages of life. That is realistic. The characters are each like people I have known or would like to know. That is reassuring-my experience is shared. Relationships are hard. Life is challenging. The book makes that...more
Holly
Wow, I had to force myself through to the end of this book. I think if I had read this as a young idealistic college student, I would have that it was incredible. Reading it as a 45 year old professional in a male dominated field, I am discouraged by how little has actually changed. The media, politics and academia still drive home the predominant themes when it comes to women, and they are destructive themes. I see it every day in my female patient population. Overall, this book just depressed...more
Melanie
This is truly one of the absolute best books I have ever read. Marilyn French is a genius. For any woman who has ever struggled with anything in her life, no matter how large or small. This book should be a must read. Read with an open mind and the whole book takes on a different tone. It is so powerful to know that the messages in this are timeless. I ran across a quote and this book in college and then saw in in a used book pile in the library several years ago. My copy is bruised and scarred...more
Rhonda
This book was awesome. I decided to read it since in skimming the first few pages of the book in the store that I could learn about the atmosphere for being a young married woman in the 1950's and 1960's which would give me insights into what my own mother went through. The book was compelling and rich in the character development and I can understand how it influenced a generation of women who read it when it was originally published in 1977. I only wish I had discovered this book sooner. I am...more
Ellenjsmellen
I don't know why this took me so long to read accept that it was very detailed. We never find out who the point of view of the story teller is, but apparently she's very close to the main character Mira. This book was published in 1977. I was only 4 years. Now here I am at aged 37 and I find several of the women I'm friends with or "associate" with are having life changes like Mira's friends. People are cheating, getting divorced, trying to better themselves with education, just like in this nov...more
Chris Tait
I've rated this book five stars because it was one of the catalysts that came together in 1980 to change my life forever. Rating it as a work of literature would use an entirely different criteria. I've never wished to reread it as I'm sure my critical eye would kick in. I'd rather hold the memories of this book being at the centre of the first meaningful conversations I had that year that eventually gave me the courage to walk away from an abusive marriage.

It was a novel of its time. It served...more
Alex
This has taken me a good 6 months to finish - I kept putting it down and then going back to it. I can see why it was shattering at the time, and how it was instrumental in raising consciousness about the position of women in society, but really, I was just irritated by the end with its clunkiness, and tendency to thematically bash you over the head while driving its none too subtle point home. But hey, glad not to be a housewife in the 70s, or housewife period, for that matter...
Debra Park
I read this in the '70s and was quite engaged with it, but now I am rereading for a book group and struggling... It feels so dated/so far removed from where I am now. Hmmmm....

Ultimately gave up. Too many other books that call to me.
Kim Opitz
Phenomenal book that correlates with my own very early - childhood - interpretations of marriage, women, men and relationships (circa 1980s). When my daughters are an appropriate age, I'll advise them to read this.
Allison
My dad got this for me for Christmas a few years ago. I mean, what else can I say but "awesome?!"
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She attended Hofstra University (then Hofstra College) where she also received a master's degree in English in 1964. She married Robert M. French Jr. in 1950; the couple divorced in 1967. She later attended Harvard University, earning a Ph.D in 1972.[1] Years later she became an instructor at Hofstra University.

In her work, French asserted that women's oppression is an intrinsic part of the male-d...more
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“There was no justice, there was only life. And life she had.” 14 likes
“She drowned in words that could not teach her how to swim.” 11 likes
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