Tag Archives: Betty Friedan

Fear Of Flying, 41 years Later

Warning: This post contain spoilers. If you have not read Fear Of Flying or you are planning to read in the future,  and do not want to be spoiled, do not read this post. I will understand.

Fear Of Flying, the classic (and sometimes controversial, depending on your point of view) novel by Erica Jong is 41 this year.

The central character is Isadora Wing, a 27 year old woman traveling with her second husband to a work conference. She dreams of the zipless f*ck, the ultimate sexual fantasy. That dream comes in the form of Adrian Goodlove, a man who will fulfill the fantasy and forces her to ask the tough questions she has been avoiding.

Fear Of Flying was published at the height of the second wave of the Feminist movement, when the old rules and the barriers that kept women confined were being torn down.  Jong and Isadora, her literary doppelganger are part of the generation who were born during World War II and came of age in the rigid 1950’s and early 1960’s.  We can look back now and see that the rules of that era were very straightforward and simple, but to the girls growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, it was confusing time made even more confusing by the double standard. Fear Of Flying was a shock to the reading public, just as Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and The Single Girl and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was during the early 1960’s.

Jong, borrowing from Charlotte Bronte, uses her main character to guide us through the story. We see the world through Isadora’s eyes.  Her life is complicated. She is on her second marriage to a man who was one of her many psychoanalysts, her first husband is confined in a mental institution. Her relationship with her family is awkward and full of drama. She has big goals, but the fear keeps her from working towards those goals.

I read this book when I was 27, the same age as Isadora.  I understood who she was within the first few pages. Isadora represents and speaks for many of us when we are in our late 20’s. We are adults, but we may still be mired in our pasts or our fears keep us from reaching for our dreams, whatever they maybe.

When it comes to books, I usually take it as a good sign that within the first chapter, I can dive in emotionally early to the story and connect with the characters. I understood Isadora within the first few pages, I was hooked by the time I completed the first chapter. Jong is a master storyteller, her years of writing, introspection and using that introspection to emotionally connect to the reader and bring them into the world of her characters.

I highly recommend this book.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Charlotte Bronte, Feminism

Five Books That Every Woman Should Read

I’m a life long bookworm. I’ve many books, some good and some bad. But there are some that represent certain markers in my life, that I believe that every woman should read at least once in her life.

Little Women By Louisa May Alcott

Alcott’s Civil War era novel is timeless.  It is the story of the four March sisters: sensible Meg, tomboy Jo, shy Beth and wild child Amy.  Their father is away, serving in the Union Army. Jo wants to be a writer, but finds herself constricted by the rules of her era. Her best friend is the boy next door, Laurie.  It is a novel of growing up, of what it is to be a sister and have a sister.  The first time I read this book, I was in junior high school and it was the gateway book to what would become a very happy obsession with books and classic literature.

Pride and Prejudice By Jane Austen

I could not write about important books that have impacted my life and not write about Pride and Prejudice.  For the initiated, it is the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and how they overcome the pride and prejudice that each has to find their life’s partner in each other. Yes, it is a love story, but there are so many human qualities to the novel.  Making mistakes, falling in love,  accepting your flaws and your partner’s flaws.  It’s no wonder that after 200 years, it still holds up.

Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte

Some might describe Charlotte Bronte’s iconic character as being born under an unlucky star.  Jane is an orphan, raised in her deceased uncle’s home by a wicked stepmother like aunt and treated like sh*t by her cousins. At the age of ten, she is taken to Lowood School, where the headmaster is cruel to the students. Eight years later, she takes a position at Thornfield Hall, where she is governess to the ward of the mysterious Edward Rochester.  Despite all of the obstacles that would keep most people down, Jane has courage, strength and follows her heart, even when she is tempted not to. Which is something we all need to remember.

The Feminine Mystique By Betty Friedan

This book is nothing short of earth shattering. Published in 1963, it was controversial in it’s day. Friedan’s exploration of the hypocrisy of what was considered to the be feminine ideal completely changed the world.  This book is instrumental in starting the second wave of the feminist movement and allowing future generations to enjoy the rights and achievements that Friedan’s generation would have never dreamed of.  My generation would not have what we have without this book.

Fear Of Flying By Erica Jong

Jong’s literary doppelganger, Isadora Wing is traveling with her husband to a work conference in Vienna.  She is in her late 20’s and at the point in her life where she is still questioning who she is and what she wants out of life. The character is an open book to the reader, emotionally and sexually. The openness of the character’s sexuality may shock some, but is the overall openness of the character is more shocking. That a female writer in the early 1970’s, would write so openly about what it is to be a woman and to be a woman of a certain age.  I read this book for the first time several years ago and I knew her instantly. This is a must read for any woman between the age of 25 and 30.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice