Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: Sex Wars by Marge Piercy

Books read in 2011: 4

Unfortunately, my opinion of this book is a bit...well, a bit wishy-washy.

I feel as if Sex Wars reads less like a novel and more like a history book, except for the fact that a good quarter of the main/major characters in it never really existed. Had this in fact been a work of non-fiction, I would have given it high marks for readability and interesting topics. As a novel, it's unfortunately a bit lacking. I don't care for Piercy's style--her sentences are a bit too short, too blunt, and they don't flow which to me makes it feel as if the story doesn't flow.

Also, there are simply too many characters. I understand the inclusion of Victoria Woodhull, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but feel that Woodhull and her sister Tennessee deserved their own book, as did Anthony and Stanton. As for the Jewish immigrant character Freydeh, her story also could have stood alone and probably should have, as she didn't exist in real life and therefore didn't quite fit in with the previously mentioned women. As for Anthony Comstock, he would have sufficed as a bad guy on the side and I feel that throwing one main male character into a book with four strong female characters was a bit taxing.

The version of the novel that I have is about 405 pages long. It's not a small book, height-wise, and the text is a very small font with average to small margins. This book as it is is simply too long. As I've already mentioned, Piercy really could have made at least three separate novels using the characters and story lines she stuffed into this one book. In that case maybe the reader wouldn't have been left wanting for information about the details of the characters' lives. 2/5 stars.

"Husbands had many overt and subtle ways of influencing their wives: getting them pregnant, controlling how much money was doled out for household expenses, giving or withdrawing their presence, moving a woman out of a comfortable and stimulating situation into a small town where she seemed weird for having a notion in her head, making fun of the wife's projects, making sure she lacked time to carry them out, playing on her weaknesses." (wow that bold part sounds reeaalllyyy familiar)

"'You have in the end only yourself. You must never lose yourself for another. Love, but hold on to your own sweet values and your own ideas. Always remember what you need and what you want.'"
"Again and again, she tried to write her true life story, but something stopped her. She could not seem to grasp how to do it. Writing essays and articles and speeches had come easily, but to write about her life stymied her. She could not find a way to express on the page all those adventures and transformations, those turns and twists and misadventures. Who would understand? She had never been entirely truthful with her husband, because what man could ever know her actual life and not judge her? They would never accept her large and small loves, that she had enjoyed the embrace of so many different men without guilt, without the need to hold on to them." Pin It

1 comment:

  1. I loved the story of this book (mostly because anything history related is riiiiight up my alley). I only read it once though, so I will have to re-read it and see if it holds up a second time. I will say that this book lead me to a crazy google session about Victoria Woodhull!