The Norton Book of Women's Lives
by Phyllis Rose

W.W. Norton, 1993. ISBN 0393312909.
Reviewed by Susan Wittig Albert
Posted on 01/08/2001


I love anthologies because they are so rich and various. This one, edited by a woman with a clear, strong ear for women's voices, has plenty to offer: 61 substantial selections from the twentieth-century literature of women's autobiographies, journals, and memoirs.

"I didn't want to do my duty," Phyllis Rose says of herself growing up. (She wanted to be a cowgirl.) "Nor did I want models...of noble self-sacrifice and altruism. I wanted wild women, women who broke loose, women who lived life to the full, whatever that meant. What did it mean to live life to the full? How fully could a woman live?" In this collection, we hear a chorus of "wild women" who show us in many ways how fully we might live. What stories these are, what fascinating lives, lived on the edge of pain, perception, and truth. These are lives that liberate and enlarge the rest of us. Read them, retell them, and use them as models for telling your own story.

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