Louise's Reviews > Commune of Women

Commune of Women by Suzan Still
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's review
Aug 10, 11

bookshelves: literature-fiction
Read in August, 2011

Story Description:

On an ordinary Los Angeles morning, six unrelated women converge on Los Angeles International Airport. A hornet’s nest of chaos ensues, and the women find their survival depends on their ability to navigate a web of interpersonal and cultural conflict.

 Sophia, adept at the arts of survival, who takes the lead;
 Pearl, an ancient bag lady whose wisdom becomes guidance;
 Erika, a top executive whose business trip is cut short by a bullet wound;
 Heddi, a Jungian analyst who must use her skills to help the others;
 Betty, an overweight, histrionic housewife who endangers everything;
 Ondine, a wealthy and neurotic artist whose self-absorption turns to action:

Each must use her slender resources and innate abilities to survive.

For four days, the women sustain themselves by telling their life stories, which grow darker and more intimate as the days pass. Meanwhile, Najat, abandoned by her male companions in a control room with a view of the entire terminal and of televised rescue efforts, struggles between her own conscience and the dictates of her group, the Brothers.

Commune of Women explores what happens when ordinary citizens meet their worst nightmare. It is a novel of travail, gritty determination, compassion and the will to prevail.

My Review:

A most amazing book! The descriptive recollections told by each individual character allowed me to escape into her psyche and almost become that person for a few minutes. When a group of women gather, it is rare that they cannot find something to talk about and this group of women was no different. Each of these women reached deep inside themselves to share the most self-evaluating moments of their lives. Reading along I felt almost embarrassed for some of the women yet joyful and hopeful for others.

My favourite character was Pearl Johns. Although a bag lady, she was amazingly calm and joyful for their circumstance but very wise and intelligent. Pearl was to be more pitied than laughed at. Here she is a bag lady without any of the riches of the other women in the room, yet she was the richest of them all. She is simply thankful for living, for having a place to lay her head at night and felt lucky that God had finally smiled on her by providing a good place to sleep and a plateful of food…vending machine junk! How many of us would be truly thankful for the same things in the same circumstance?

The character that annoyed me the most was Dr. Heddi Merriweather. I felt she was a self-righteous, pompous woman who deep down thought she was better than everyone.

Each of these women came from such diverse backgrounds yet came together under the direst of circumstances and revealed wisdom, integrity and compassion. These six women will remain a part of me for a long time to come.

Ms. Still’s writing is precise and allows each woman to come to the realization that the one person they’ve hurt the most in their life is themselves. Reading the book you can almost absorb the energy of each woman’s telling. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!

PREVIEW COPY COURTESY OF SUZAN STILL, WITH MANY THANKS!!
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