Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Heart of a Woman” as Want to Read:
The Heart of a Woman
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Heart of a Woman (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #4)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  16,391 Ratings  ·  386 Reviews
Maya Angelou has fascinated, moved, and inspired countless readers with the first three volumes of her autobiography, one of the most remarkable personal narratives of our age. Now, in her fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman, her turbulent life breaks wide open with joy as the singer-dancer enters the razzle-dazzle of fabulous New York City. There, at the Harlem Writers Gu ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 17th 1997 by Random House (first published April 1981)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 09, 2014 Eman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The Heart of a Woman is Maya Angelou's forth autobiography. This book reveals more of Maya's hectic adventures, political opinions, struggle with racism, and misfortune in the romance department. You will be introduced to Maya, the activist, who works for Martin Luther King Jr. and gets to meet Malcolm X. I like that each chapter is exciting enough to keep me interested.

I'm not surprised that she was able to keep her writing fresh and crispy with just the right amount of tasteful humor. Her son,
Aug 06, 2012 Chandra rated it it was amazing
This book is inspiring and reminds you that no matter what you are going through that it can be overcome. Maya Angelou's writing is honest, poetic and REAL. I find her style to be full of poetic imagery as is seen in this quote p. 52 "His features had the immutability of a Benin mask...his teeth like flags of truce. His skin the color of rich black dirt along the Arkansas river."

These lucid and eloquent quotes remind one to persevere in the face of all things opposing.

p. 43: "If I ended in defe
Oct 12, 2013 Yasemin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some killer quotes and life lessons in this book - highly recommended for that time you need some good advice from a wised-up woman who has managed to rise above all the odds in life and been kind enough to share it all with us.

Obviously great insight of the civil war times & being a woman, no, actually, being a woman of color under those circumstances. It makes you put things in perspective.

If I had a daughter I'd make sure she would be exposed to Angelou's work instead of some vampire/fant
Ivana Split
Jul 14, 2016 Ivana Split rated it really liked it
What kind of book is this? the BEST kind of book, one that is emotionally warm, intellectually stimulating and all that spiced with a touch of wisdom! The Heart of a Woman is a memoir by Maya Angelou, so far the only memoir of her that I have read and I understand she has written several of them. The events Maya describes in this book take place between 1957 and 1962 and in that sense this book is a continuation of her previous memoirs.

I didn’t mind the fact that this wasn’t the first one and I
Mar 28, 2008 Laila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this book, which surprised me since I remember really liking "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Her life is interesting, no doubt, but I found the book to be trite, unnatural and self-indulgent. The dialogue and general intereactions between characters was not convincing, which I find disturbing considering that this is not a work of fiction.
Karla Mae
Oct 11, 2013 Karla Mae rated it really liked it
So many punchlines!

The thing about reading memoirs is that it allows you to see through the author's narrative. Maya Angelou did a remarkable job in making her point understood through vivid encounters, heated conversations, musings, constant reflections, and cultural subtleties.

Maya is a poet, a writer, a singer, an artist, an activist, and most of all, a mother. As a black American woman in Harlem, she learned how to play the game. Braving the streets of New York and London, she speaks with r
Jul 05, 2011 Tonya rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I. Merey
Aug 03, 2015 I. Merey rated it it was amazing
A slice from some years of Maya Angelou's life.

Angelou juggles raising a kid alone, working in showbiz, navigating relationships--serendipitously, she falls into black activist work through which she'll meet MLKjr, Malcolm X--she'll marry a South African activist and move with him and her son to Cairo--become an editor of a weekly newspaper there--

Angelou's life beats in strong clear waves---she was a singer, an artist, a writer, a poet, an actor, an organizer, an activist, a mother---

How soberi
Sep 16, 2013 Bythedeed rated it liked it
Read this riding my 'I know why the caged bird sings' high. What struck me as the most different - and the most disappointing - part of this book was that it read more as a chronology.

Really exciting things happening in her life and the world at this time, but didn't have the same story-telling charm as caged bird.

Like it none the less.
Feb 24, 2017 Sephora rated it it was amazing
loved book
Mar 18, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 01, 2015 Vorbis rated it liked it
Ok! So where had we got in Maya Angelou's autobiography last time? She'd gone from dancing in a strip club to singing professionally around America. In this book she moves with her son Guy to New York and works for Martin Luther King Jr as a manager.

Then she gets married to an African freedom fighter who's over petitioning the UN, moves to Egypt, the dude can't manage his finances so she gets a job as an associate editor at a newspaper (with no journalistic experience in a country where women d
Yvette Danielle
Aug 17, 2014 Yvette Danielle rated it it was amazing
I waited entirely too long to read this book! It sat on my "to read" shelf for too long and I'm sad to say it was her passing that made me pick it up and start to read, wanting to feel close to her through her words. Now I regret having waited.. This book is so rich in the History she shares of her accounts of The Harlem Renaissance era, working with Dr. King and the Literary Writer's Guild she was part of. Not to mention the pearls of wisdom and cherished insights she shares as a woman and moth ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Lesley rated it it was amazing
This is the fourth in the series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, one time stripper, dancer, singer, actress and letterly American poet laureate. I have read the first three and look forward to reading the fifth and final episode. Angelou is frank about her mistakes and her successes and how she rose from being a child brought up in the American south during the days when black people and white people lived entirely separate lives. In this volume, she has started to find her feet as a writer ...more
Lynn Wilson
Sep 25, 2009 Lynn Wilson rated it it was amazing
I literally started and kept reading. Angelou is one courageous, outrageous woman. And this portion of her autobiography covers the late 50's and early 60's, a tumultuous time in this country with a great deal of similarity to the unrest we're currently living through, though the presenting issues seem different. (I'm not so sure they are, and the characters and mindsets seem the same to me.) For anyone who's interested in a creative life lived at full throttle, and/or who has questions about wh ...more
Absolutely gripping, fabulously written, heartbreakingly honest. This book grabbed me by the throat and held on. Angelou lived in interesting times and writes about both personal and societal turmoil. She makes her experiences accessible and does not flinch from the difficulties that she faced (and overcame). Cameo appearances by famous people felt like a cool scene in a movie rather than mere name dropping. Watch for James Earl Jones, James Baldwin, plus meetings with Martin Luther King, Jr., a ...more
Ari Haltom
Aug 02, 2014 Ari Haltom rated it it was amazing
Incredible. I've always loved to read the memoirs of interesting people, and Maya Angelou was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting people in the history of America. She fought hard for what she believed in, she loved hard, and she should be an inspiration to us all. To top off all of the interesting events in her memoir, her writing style flows beautifully, making this very hard to put down.
Feb 13, 2016 Ms_prue rated it it was amazing
At the part where the producer said he wouldn't pay for the songs for the play because Maya and Ethel 'just sat down at the piano and made it up' I nearly screamed WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK COMPOSERS ACTUALLY DO?
Maya's writing is amazing - so good - lean and evocative. I don't actively go in for autobiographies but I will be looking out for her other books for sure.
Dec 06, 2012 Kelechi rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography. Her writing is truthful and beautiful. I felt that I could relate to her as she discovered more about herself through her life experiences. Her depiction of her romantic relationships with the men she encountered at that point in her life, spoke to me as a woman forging a life for herself that is autonomous.
Apr 07, 2015 Ulriika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
When I think her life can't get crazier, she marries a freedom fighter and moves to Egypt. Maya, you amaze me. <3

Love it, love her. Although I really love Vivian Baxter - she is iconic, somehow. Will try a method of WWVBD for the next few months (should be epic).
May 14, 2012 Celia rated it really liked it
I was not expecting an autobiography to be so engaging but that it was! I can't wait to read the other five books.
Sarah Eagle
I love Maya Angelou, not just as a writer, but as a person. Her writing is excellent, it takes me deep into the subject and into herself. I feel like at the end of the book that I have been an acquaintance of hers for years. I understand her. I see her thought process on her decisions, and I feel what she feels when dealing with constantly moving, with her worries about how she's raising Guy (her son), and with how she reacts to things that conflict, challenge or affirm her identity as a black A ...more
Emilie Allen
Oct 29, 2016 Emilie Allen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Rachel Sargent
Recommended to Emilie by: self
Amazing story. There are so many facets to Maya that it amazed me how she could handle the difficult people in her life and maintain the grace that she projected. Her mother helped her hold her head high and showed no fear as she passed her "foes".

There was so many troublesome times with her husband and she held her own and recognized she would be on her own evidently. She was ready when it did happen.

I learned a lot from her strong will and faith that kept her sane.

Must read more of her work.
Alice  Heiserman
Mar 14, 2017 Alice Heiserman rated it it was amazing
The integrity of a woman who discusses her life and loves with all their flaws is an inspirational read. Any single parent who is seeking a second chance at love will find this true story interesting and possibly as a cautionary tale or else as a green light to live life fully as Maya Angelous did. What I enjoyed was learning about the spirit of a woman who has accomplished so much despite many obstacles. The tales of her life flowed seamlessly.
Khendis_Lee Phiri
This was an amazing read, very captivating and the description of Egypt and Ghana pulled me right into the pages.

I had a laugh out loud moment in the bus whilst reading the part Vus chased her around the hotel lobby, that was down right hilarious. Maya was really something else.

I think I might be re-reading this one in the near future.
Kaitlyn Do
Feb 07, 2017 Kaitlyn Do rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorites my Maya Angelou. It really put her struggle and presented in unimaginable beautiful words. It really represented her struggle and her mothers struggles. I love how it showed both of their struggles. It showed how close she is to her mother. It helps those around her to experience her own struggles. She really brings those struggles to life.
Feb 09, 2017 Adina rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Maya Angelou's life is absolutely amazing and unbelievable. This book covers a lot of her time in New York and her travels abroad. She seriously has done it all, and done it well.

This book had a little less focus than other books I've read by Angelou, but I still enjoyed it.
Feb 16, 2017 Oullie rated it it was amazing
"There's more to life than being a diligent maid with a permanent pussy." Maya Angelou's strength arises from her stories of vulnerability. When I think of Ms. Angelou I think of someone strong and regal. The path to regality is often far from pretty.
Feb 13, 2017 Siran rated it really liked it
I'm not familiar with her work nor her life, so this one is a pretty wonderful introduction. I was pleasantly surprised by the topics she chose to expand on, and was moved from time to time, admiring her courage.
Feb 18, 2017 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Great book. Love Maya Angelou!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Oprah's Book Club...: The Heart of a Woman 2 37 May 26, 2013 07:11PM  
  • The Treasure Hunt: A Little Bill Book
  • The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
  • River, Cross My Heart
  • Paradise (The Trilogy, #3)
  • Mother of Pearl
  • What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day (Idlewild, #1)
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory
  • Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy
  • On My Own at 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie
  • A Virtuous Woman
  • The Rapture of Canaan
  • Vinegar Hill
  • Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America
  • Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday
  • Songs in Ordinary Time
  • Dust Tracks on a Road
  • Mama
Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #3)
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
  • A Song Flung Up To Heaven
  • Mom & Me & Mom

Share This Book

“Don't let the man bring you down.” 128 likes
“If more Africans had eaten missionaries, the continent would be in better shape” 14 likes
More quotes…