with a woman's voice:
a writer's struggle for emotional freedom

by Lucy Daniels

Madison Books, 2001. ISBN 1568332505.
Reviewed by Gloria Cordova
Posted on 03/03/2003

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus; Nonfiction: Body Language

The issue of "voice" related to identity is central to my professional and personal interests. Daniels' title, with a woman's voice, reminded me of Carol Gilligan's book, In a Different Voice (1983). In the introduction to the 1993 edition of her book, Gilligan explains what she means by voice: "To have a voice is to be human. To have something to say is to be a person. But speaking depends on listening and being heard; it is an intensely relational act—voice is a powerful psychological instrument and channel, connecting inner and outer worlds...key for understanding the psychological, social, and cultural order—a litmus test of relationships and a measure of psychological health."

Daniels tells us that her voice box was missing because [her] father had ripped it out! This simple but powerful sentence strongly resonated for me. I understood from Gilligan that there is a physiological and psychological connection in how the voice speaks in relationship. Gilligan said she was given a "physics for [her] psychology" by the understanding of voice from the analysis of the human voice in the work of Kristin Linklater, one of theater's leading teachers of voice. Gilligan also told how she learned from Normi Noel—an actor, director, and voice teacher, that the voice is expanded or constricted by relational ties. Consequently, it conjures an appropriate image when Lucy Daniels uses the physical metaphor of her voice box being ripped out to convey to the reader the abuse she suffered, particularly from her own father. She understood the "brutal crippling of [her] own voice and womanhood."

Daniels' story is deeply moving, particularly if one has experience with and/or knows anyone gripped by anorexia. Loved ones in my family suffered severely from anorexia and were treated. The image of Lucy Daniels, suffering for many years from this horrible affliction before it was better known and was appropriately treatable, is heartbreaking. Daniels speaks out in the hope that her story will serve as an inspiration to others who are striving to be emotionally free.

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