Emma Thompson's Reviews > Woman on the Edge of Time

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
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's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it

This is a rather strange book and while I read it and enjoyed it, I'm almost not sure what to think about it. Woman on the edge of time is about a woman who through a web of entirely eblievable circumstances ends up being sectioned in a mental hospital. What makes her different from any poor woman exploited in this way is that she's a 'receptive' woman, which means someone from the future is able to mentaly contact her, visiting her and at times bringing her into the future. It's never explored exactly how this is meant to work (like how if Connie is travelling to the future through someone elses mind, how come other people can see her?) but her shock and initial disghut at some of the things in the future imply that it is genuine, though it all being an halucination is also a possibility. At least one of her trips to the future is acnowledged at halucination but that is notable in it's lack of fluidity and lack of continuity with her other trips.

That said, I think Connie's story without the time travelling element is compelling enough. She's a poor latin woman who has esentially been condemed. It reads as an enditment of how mental hospitals work, where everything she does it taken as a sign of her psychosis and nobody considers or cares that she might not be crazy. None of them care what she thinks of her condition, only what they think.

Juxtaposed with this, we have the trips to the future. Connie often acts only as observer, ocasionally asking questions but staying largely detatched. The future shown is a utopia of sorts, an egalitarian society based on the idea of personal freedom intermixed with responsibility where no job is heald as higher or more important than others and people are free to move and create as they like. These segments come across as a bit heavy handed at times. At first, when Connie is still shocked by them and questioning them, they're better, but once she starts to accept them they just become almost descriptions of how the society works with no indication of how that's meant to impact on Connie's story.

In the end, Connie makes a choice which is influenced by her time in the future. And despite feeling a little preachy at time this is a good book with some very compelling characters. I feel like there were two distinct strong stories here, I'm just not sure how well they worked together, or if they worked togteher at all.

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