The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

Book 21

The Awakening is one of those 19th century “women trapped by the conventions of society” novels.  This one was banned immediately upon publication, which I funny because it seems to lack the requisite smut.  Which tells me that the puritanical idiots that think banning books is a good idea believe that the very concept of feeling trapped by convention will warp our fragile little minds.

Anyway.  These novels never end well.  I like this one better than most because it is short (read as: rather less melodramatic) and set in New Orleans.

But seriously, how many of the “classics” fall into this category?  I have read them from three different countries off the top of my head (U.S., England and Russia) and am sure there are more.  Oh!  France.

“The Awakening” refers to a moment in time when our heroine realizes that she has been sleepwalking through her existence.  So she stops doing the things she is “obligated” to do and does what she pleases.  Paints, walks, visits friends.  Whatever.  There are, of course, men involved.  But technically, there is no hanky panky.

There is an awesome moment when, with her husband in New York and her children visting Grandmere, Edna closes up her grand house and moves into the little cottage around the corner.  Her husband writes two letters: one to his wife telling her that she is very foolish and what will the neighbors think?  The other to the contractor telling him to gut and renovate the whole place.  Such that the neighbors won’t think anything.

The ending is all too predictable.  But a 19th century woman trapped by convention writing about a 19th century woman trapped by convention could hardly have finished it any other way.

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