Tag Archives: Fear Of Flying

Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary

This year marks of the 25th anniversary of Beauty And The Beast.

Loosely based on the fairy tale of the same name written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, Belle is the odd woman out in the small town in rural France that she calls home. She prefers books and spending time with her father instead of loosing her mind over Gaston, the town hunk.

Miles away a prince has spent the last ten years the form of a beast. Cursed by an enchantress for his selfish ways, he has ten years to mend his ways and find a woman who will love him enough to see past the exterior image. The enchantress left him a reminder of the time he has left, a magical rose that wilts. If the last petal falls and the prince has not changed his ways, he will forever remain a beast.

The catalyst to the meet cute of these characters is Belle’s father, Maurice, who is not the brightest bulb in the box. He gets lost in a storm on the way to a fair and finds shelter in the beast’s castle. The rest is movie history.

Among Disney heroines, Belle was and still is unique. I adore Ariel because she is my animated ginger sister from another mister, but Belle I get. She is smart, capable girl who is not looking for prince charming. She may get her prince charming in the end, but there is no version of “someday my prince will come” in Beauty And The Beast. She is also, compared previous Disney heroines, mature and level-headed.

Belle is to Anne Elliot as Ariel is to Marianne Dashwood.

Her other half, Beast, is also a mess of complications. He is deep down, a decent guy, but has allowed his anger and grief to overtake him and let him emotions match his external image. Sometimes, when we let grief, anger and self hatred overtake us, it’s hard to let the better qualities that we know are inside of us shine through.

In Belle, I see a Disney proto-feminist. While she is not reading The Feminine Mystique or Fear Of Flying, she has inspired multiple generations of girls to be strong, courageous and to simply be themselves.

I had the pleasure, many years ago of seeing the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and The Beast. I also adore the relationship on Once Upon A Time known as Rumbelle. I am eagerly looking forward to the new live action adaptation of Beauty And The Beast that will be arriving in movie theaters next March.

Not that we need reminding why we love this movie, but I give you the original trailer and a reunion of most of the cast the filmmakers.

Writing this, I feel old. Happy Sunday and have a good week.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Television

Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection Book Review

My mother’s generation was the first to have it all. They were the first generation to go to college with the intent of earning real college degrees and not just the MRS degrees that their mothers earned. They were the first generation to have real longevity in their careers and not just work until they married. They had it all, the job, the husband, the kids and everything that goes with that life.

That’s the life I knew growing up. I had two working parents. It’s life I hope to lead one day if I should ever marry and have children.

According to author and Barnard College President Debora Spar, in her book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, we cannot have it all. Something has to give along the way.  Referencing classic second wave feminists texts such as Fear Of Flying, Sex and The Single Girl and The Feminine Mystique while interviewing a variety of women, Ms. Spar comes to an interesting conclusion.

This is one of the best new feminist books that I have read in a very long time. While giving deference and respect where both are naturally due, Ms. Spar examines the life of the modern woman and how it has changed from the life that her grandmother might have lived fifty or sixty years ago. We have come incredibly far in only two generations, but we still have a long ways to go.

I highly recommend this book.

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Fear Of Flying Review

As a writer and a reader, there is before and after moment for me. There is the moment I started reading Erica Jong’s classic and sometimes controversial (depending on your point of view) 1973 novel, Fear Of Flying. Then there is the moment after and you realize that you will never read a novel or see the world the same way again.  Ms. Jong’s late 20’s coming of age novel is the story of discovering yourself as an adult and making decisions based on what is real versus what is fantasy.

Ms. Jong’s literary doppelganger, Isadora Wing, is traveling to Vienna with her second husband for a psychiatry conference.  Her sexual fantasy, known as the zipless f*ck appears in the form of Adrian Goodlove, an Englishman who is very willing to take part in Isadora’s sexual’s fantasies. But the sexual fantasy will soon fade as Adrian forces Isadora to face her past, her choices and choose her future.

If I were to make a list of all of the books I have read and put them in order of how influential they were in my life, Fear Of Flying would be in the top five. I read it when I was twenty seven and my life was forever changed. I understood Isadora from the first page. She is a woman still discovering who she is and what she wants out of life. Those are questions that we normally ask ourselves as teenagers, but they surprisingly still come up ten years later. Ms. Jong is open as a writer, both emotionally and sexually. She is a balls to the wall writer who uses her writing both as a form of expression and a form of therapy.

What I love about this book is that it opened the door to other female authors.  Women, both as writers and readers, are not as confined to certain genres or characters as they once were. We are freer than we were to write and read as we feel, even if the story goes against what is considered popular or appropriate for a female.

I recommend this book.

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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.

 

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A Mother’s Day Read

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the people we are closest with are the ones who we have the most complicated relationships with. Our parents are certainly included in this category.

Erica Jong’s 1997 novel, Inventing Memory, is a multi generation novel delving into the often complicated and difficult relationships between mother’s and daughters.

In the early twentieth century, Sarah, a young Jewish woman, leaves Tsarist Russia for New York’s Lower East Side. She gains fame and fortune as a painter. Her daughter, Salome, becomes a writer, living in Paris in the decadent 1920’s and 1930’s.  Her daughter, Sally rockets to the top of the music charts in the 1960’s while engaging in the era’s open attitude to sex, drugs and rock and roll.  Her daughter, also named Sara, is dealing with the twin demons of a failing marriage and trying to figure out who she is.

Next to Fear Of Flying, this is my favorite Erica Jong book.  Fans of Jong’s books will immediately recognize her voice as writer. As she did in previous books, there is an undercurrent of feminism while exploring the minds of female characters whose lives and thoughts might have been ignored by other writers. What makes this book so good is that it’s about the universal subject that is the relationship between mothers and daughters.

I recommend this book.

 

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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.

 

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