A review of "Down Among the Women (Cassandra Editions)" — 18 weeks ago
In the same vein as Marilyn French’s seminal novel of 1970s Second Wave Feminism, The Women’s Room, Down Among the Women is in turns miserabilist about the plight of women in a changing world and positive in its portrayal of women overcoming the odds stacked against them. Weldon’s heroines deal in rapid succession with divorce, madness, pregnancy in- and outside of marriage, child-rearing, employment, psychotherapy, homosexuality, and much more. Novels such as this, originally published in 1971, were groundbreaking and controversial at the time but are now almost hackneyed. From the many imitators of the aforementioned Women’s Room, to the confessional autobiographies of the 1990s, to the Sex and the City female archetypes of the 2000s, the conflicting pressures on women, while still unresolved, have been dissected endlessly. Because Weldon’s own characters are archetypes, they tend to lack any real depth, with circumstances and characters changing to suit the narrative. Nevertheless Weldon’s biting wit and cut-glass prose allow room for each character to have funny, heart-breaking, and realistic moments amid the cartoonish plot that keep the novel interesting and insightful, helping to set it apart from the imitators as one of the original and best examples of feminist novels.