Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Awakening and Selected Stories

The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin
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Nov 11, 2008

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bookshelves: classics, all-fiction, america
Read in November, 2008

This is a short novel, published in 1899. It caused such a scandal that it was banned for decades afterward. The furor over this book was so upsetting to Kate Chopin that she gave up writing altogether.

The story is about Mrs. Edna Pontellier, a Kentucky girl married to Leonce, a New Orleans Creole. One summer, When she is twenty-eight, something inside her starts to shift. She's not fully aware of what's happening, but she knows she feels different. Gradually she stops obeying social conventions and begins to do and say what she wants. Because she's a woman, everyone dismisses it and says, "Leave her alone and she'll get over it." But she doesn't. She becomes more and more independent and willful, unwilling to play the game anymore.

It's a good read, and paints an interesting picture of New Orleans life and customs of that time. My copy (Bantam Classics) has an intro by Marilynne Robinson that really made me mad! She gives away the conclusion of the story in the second paragraph of the intro! So I read the entire book knowing how it would end, which I never would have guessed on my own. Mad, mad, mad!!!

From a modern perspective, it's hard to see what could be scandalous about this story, but it was written in the Victorian age.

The book also has a small collection of excellent short stories at the end. As far as storytelling, some of them are almost better than the novel.
I especially liked:

Beyond the Bayou
Ma'ame Pelagie
The Locket
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