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

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,753 Ratings  ·  351 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
Paperback, 272 pages
Published 1986 by Virago Press (first published 1981)
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Eman
Jan 11, 2016 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,
...more
Chandra
Aug 06, 2012 Chandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Yasemin
Dec 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
...more
Ivana Split
Jul 14, 2016 Ivana Split rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mary-Ellen Lynn
In 'The Heart of a Woman' Maya Angelou leaves California with her son, Guy, to go to New York, where she enters the world of black artists and writers. She begins to share her writing and performs at the Apollo Theater in Harlem; but the momentum of the story lies in her part in the struggle of black Americans for freedom: she is appointed Martin Luther King's Northern Coordinator. She takes a leading role in Genet's The Blacks, with a notable cast (including Godfrey Cambridge, Roscoe Lee Brown, ...more
Laila
Apr 14, 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.
Tonya
Jul 12, 2011 Tonya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Karla Mae
Jan 20, 2014 Karla Mae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
I. Merey
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
...more
Bythedeed
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.
Vorbis
Jul 01, 2015 Vorbis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Julia
Mar 18, 2012 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Ms_prue
Feb 15, 2016 Ms_prue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ari Haltom
Aug 13, 2014 Ari Haltom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Yvette Danielle
Aug 17, 2014 Yvette Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lesley
Jan 19, 2011 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Penn Nouveau
Jan 16, 2016 Penn Nouveau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent autobiography that subsequently chronicles historical events of the 1950's-1960's. Maya Angelou's masterful use of colorful metaphors and imagery places the reader 'right there' when, as a young woman in her 30's, her doorbell rings she opens the door to find the legendary Billie Holiday standing there! When Maya Angelou describes how she invited Ms. Holiday into her home, cooked chicken and rice for her, and chatted about show business - you really feel like you, the reader, is right ...more
Ellen
Aug 16, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-book
How surprised I was that Oprah picked this book-a biographical book to discuss with and in the presence of the author!! I cried all weekend when I found out this was the book, One: because I love Maya Angelou so much and yet have never read these books and TWO: because I want to meet her so badly and isn't that foolish? "it's not like we'll be best friends just by meeting" "like I could be her contemporary" I mean I probably wouldn't even be able to talk if I saw her-just mumble unintelligibly. ...more
Sherrill Watson
Sep 29, 2014 Sherrill Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally got a copy of this from my local Sun City library, a couple of months after Ms. Angeleau passed.

Written about her life from 1957 to approximately 1960(?. What a tumultuous life! I understand more why she was such an influence on people, including me! Poor Guy, ! She seems to take her life in increments of months, rather than years; each part of it would fill my lifetime.

First she was on a European tour; then in Sausalito on a houseboat and with her mother; then in Laurel Canyon, Los A
...more
Elizabeth Young
My mother and I have varying opinions on things- books, movies even tv shows. And though our tastes differed in many respects, down the road I found more and more that what she was saying about the writers that had struck a cord with her was dead on, right on the money. She didn't steer me wrong with Joyce Carol Oates nor did she with Maya and from this first book that she had bought for me (she very rarely bought books for me as a teenager) I felt I was being warmly hugged by them both. Strange ...more
Sanhita
Apr 12, 2014 Sanhita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know that this is part of a series of her five autobiographical books. Since the title sounded interesting, I picked it up. Once I started reading, I just could not stop. It did not make me feel at any point of time that I have missed the prior volume. This book was complete by itself.
Writing an autobiography dispassionately and making it readable and interesting at the same time, is not easy.I found this book to be very readable. Her prose is lyrical and expressive.
What a time she liv
...more
Dianeparente62gmail.com
This is the fourth in an ongoing autobiographical series featuring a remarkable woman. The cover touts it as "a powerful personal narrative," but it is more than that; it is a captivating, well written account of a real life journey full of encounters with interesting, even astonishing people. Her travels include encounters with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, a "warts and all" Billy Halliday, to name just a few. There are numerous interactions with less well known people not the least a storied, ...more
Kelechi
Jan 05, 2013 Kelechi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan
Sep 07, 2014 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I have read all of Maya's biographies, this was probably my least favorite. It was her 4th and it had been a while since I had read the others. I just know that meeting Maya at the East Side library in Spokane years ago was a life changing experience. This book was mostly about the raising of her son Guy in his teen age years. She often moved and made decisions which must have been hard for him but he knew and trusted his mom and knew she would stand by him no matter what. This book had ...more
Heather McNamara
Apr 26, 2016 Heather McNamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou wrote it, so of course it's beautiful, but it didn't have the same effect on me as her other work usually does. Where her poetry and, for example, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, touch me on a deep and personal level while pushing me to consider life's bigger questions, The Heart of a Woman mostly made me worry about her and her son. Every few pages, there's a new move or a new man or a new career and all I could think was "oh crap the rent" and "omigod she just met that guy a week ...more
Ulriika
Jul 26, 2016 Ulriika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Diedra
Sep 20, 2015 Diedra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I do realize that Maya Angelou is a product of the time and place of her birth, but I had expected so much more from this acclaimed author. "The Heart of a Woman" reads like an eight grade daily journal. I found her writing simplistic and crude. I was soon tired of the manipulating behavior and name dropping and most of all, I was angry at her constantly blaming the white culture for all of her poor life choices. My goodness, how many times must her son move from house to house drifting in and o ...more
South Orange Library
This is an autobiographical work and very well-written. The book was so compelling that I was glued to my chair and could not care about my own responsibilities. I really did not know about the life of this amazing woman, except for her childhood, described in her first book. She was an overcomer, succeeding in jobs for which she had no training, and finding ways to use her many talents. However, in this book, she truly reveals her heart and it’s a broken heart. It was broken over and over. I ad ...more
Helen
She is truly blessed in spite of her struggles she has experienced much as a woman and a mother and has really lived. If I estimate correctly this book covered some 8-10 years of her life til her son went to the University.
So much courage and zeal.

From time to time, she is able to articulate the most deep seated thoughts a woman or a mother has and I am nodding my head and thinking ...that is life and everyone goes through it.

Somewhere in the second chapter she writes about her fears, doubts and
...more
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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 n ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (6 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

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