I was sad to hear that the feminist author Marilyn French passed away on Saturday. French is probably most well known for her 1977 novel The Women’s Room, in which a housewife gradually finds empowerment after she divorces and becomes a part of the burgeoning feminist movement. The novel was harshly criticized for what some saw as it’s anti-male viewpoint but nevertheless was a bestseller, and has earned a spot of one of the classics of second-wave feminism. I love this quote from Anne Tyler’s 1977 review of the novel:
Pretend you’re from Mars, you haven’t heard a word, and you want to know something about the lives of certain women in midcentury America. “The Women’s Room” is a good place to begin.
For the past few months I’ve been making my way slowly through French’s sweeping four-volume history of women From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World. By turns I’ve been both intrigued and infuriated, and have found the subject matter endlessly fascinating. It’s a comprehensive look at what women have been doing since prehistory until the present, and an excellent primer on women’s issues.
Marilyn French wrote several other novels and works of non-fiction; take a look at some of her other titles here.