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Hell Hath No Fury: Women's Letters from the End of the Affair Paperback – December 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034546544X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345465443
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Whether a two-line note, a brief e-mail, an expansive retelling of a romance or a lamenting farewell, each letter in journalist Holmes's first book offers a snapshot from the end of an affair. With anger, sorrow, wit, intelligence and whining, such authors as Sylvia Plath, Mary Wollstonecraft, Anne Boleyn, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf and countless lesser-known women analyze what went wrong, say good-bye and address the future, some more happily than others, some impulsively and others with great forethought. Chapters group similar letters (the "tell off," the "just friends," the "marriage refusal," the "unsent letter," etc.), mixing contemporary and historical compositions, so that Monica Lewinsky's 1997 e-mail to President Bill Clinton follows Aline Bernstein's 1930s' correspondence with Thomas Wolfe in the "silent treatment" chapter, and the letter from a young woman named Lois to serviceman Harry Leister during WWII follows Valley of the Dolls author Jacqueline Susann's 1942 missive to film producer Irving Mansfield in the "Dear John" chapter. Holmes's comprehensive collection includes letters from epistolary and narrative novels beginning with Ovid's Heroides; prescriptive letters culled from letter-writing manuals; and unsent letters from as recently as October 2001. The careful reader will appreciate the subtle differences between many of the letters, but will have to plow through a quantity of less interesting work before happening on a gem. Many of the letters cannot stand on their own and beg for greater context and additional details about the author and the relationship. Still, literary romantics will have fun thumbing through this unique assemblage of send-off notes.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Motivated by her own disappointing relationship and the responses she received to the "breakup" letter she sent to her lover and to ten other people on the Internet, freelance writer Holmes compiled this anthology of 356 real or fictional letters of love, hatred, anger, disappointment, disgust, and rejection written by women when relationships with their lovers, suitors, or husbands went awry. The collection offers sent and unsent letters between various notables, including Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, Mary Wollstonecraft to Gilbert Imlay, Princess Margaret to Robin Douglas-Home, Jacqueline Susann to Irvin Mansfield, and Monica Lewinsky to Bill Clinton, as well as those between unknown individuals, those published as literature (e.g., The Letters of Abelard and Heloise), and those published in letter-writing manuals. The anthology is divided into 13 sections, each chronologically arranged, according to types, such as "Marriage Refusal," "Prescriptive Letters," "Goodbye Letter," "Tell-Off," "Dear John," and "Divorce Letter." This book will be consoling to those who discover the universality of experiences and emotions, depressing to those who find the collection an overwhelming overdose of reactions to unfulfilled relationships, and inspiring to those motivated to pursue the relationships of notables mentioned or to study letters as literature. Appropriate for public and academic libraries.
Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Anna Holmes is a NYC-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, NY Magazine, Glamour, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. Her first book, Hell Hath No Fury: Women's Letters from the End of the Affair, was published in 2002. In 2007 she founded the very popular women's website Jezebel.com, which she oversaw until July 2010. Her second book, The Book of Jezebel, will be published by Grand Central Publishing on October 22, 2013. When not reading or writing (or stressing about not reading or writing), she indulges her interests in baseball, politics, animals, food, the outdoors, yoga, film, and sleep.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
I'm sure the emotions are sincere, but that is not a justification for publication.
Kiki D.
Giving you a wide range of author's this book gives you a large canvas to view relationships and their demise from.
Stephanie Manley
For anyone who has been betrayed and looking for the resource book on just how to cope - this will help.
Feroza R

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book contains, as described, letters from women to their partners at the end of the relationships. Some of the letters are laugh-out-loud funny, some poignant, some sad, some cruel, some pathetic and desperate. Some of the letters were written hundreds of years ago, and if you like classic literature, you will really enjoy the writing that comes directly from the hearts of women such as Anais Nin, Charlotte Bronte and Simone de Beauvoir. The letters are divided into categories such as "The Tell-Off", "The 'Just Friends'" and "The Divorce Letter". In each chapter, the letters are arranged chronologically, so if you are looking for a light, amusing read, you can flip to the middle of each chapter and read the more contemporary letters. Not all of the letter-writers are famous women. In fact, one of the leters was found lying on a sidewalk, its author never positively identified. I would recommend this book to someone who really enjoys reading, and enjoys the voyeurism of the peek into what is often the most interesting part of a relationship- its end.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Reader on March 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being, like the reviewer called Kim, interested in the epistolary genre, I eagerly purchased "Hell Hath No Fury". Like her, I found it extremely rewarding in some aspects, disappointing in others. The editor is an amateur (she admits that she knew nothing about the history of women's letters before undertaking this project), which may account for some of the flaws in this otherwise engaging book. Some of the letters could certainly have been dispensed with. Tanya's letter, with its tiresome stream of abuse (come on! do we really need to read about her boyfriend performing oral sex on her right after she had finished having sex with another man?) was gratuitous obscenity, but Leigh L.'s was something even worse, revealing racism and a nastiness which I personally found disgusting ("I guess that's what comes with being a good Jewish girl in bed with a Mexican", "thanks for letting me take your Panamanian virginity away" - you get the style; however, for a "good girl", she does seem to have been sleeping around a bit, and anyway, what exactly is a "Panamanian virginity" like?).

If you can overlook this sort of trash, and those letters that simply are not interesting enough, you may find some worthwhile - and occasionally moving - pieces. I deeply identified with Kate Christensen's frustration at her relationship with John, having felt exactly the same impotence and wretchedness when faced with my then-boyfriend's utter lack of understanding or respect for my beliefs and feelings. I also enjoyed the 63-year-old woman's letter to the man she had met on the internet - although I'm much younger, I could identify with what she felt. And the historical as well as some of the literary letters are a delight.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
While some of the letters in this book are disturbing and intense, I disagree with the reviewer who says that the book is sickening. There are many loving letters as well as cruel ones, and the loving ones WAY outnumber the cruel ones. And the arrangement of the letters in the book is proof that we all react to breakups differently...some more maturely than others.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Feroza R on January 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! It is funny, sad, heart-wrenching, depressing, disturbing, uplifting, and causes you to re-think all of your relationships, spouse/partner-wise and others. No matter what personal relationship hell you have been through, it will make you realize that you are not alone, others have been through it as well, and it will leave you some great templates for expressing your feelings.

For anyone who has been betrayed and looking for the resource book on just how to cope - this will help.

This isn't classic literature. It isn't even good literature. If that is what you are looking for, this isn't for you. But if you have been betrayed, dumped, or just plain used, you will love hearing how these folks have expressed their rage in similar instances.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Manley VINE VOICE on November 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Not that I am a bitter person :) but this book is so refreshing to read when a relationship has gone badly. Everyone can relate to a relationship that has ended. This book is so enlightening as it places many different letters from healthy and the not so healthy relationships in one place. This book is refreshing in the sense that you can see the bad points in your relationship and move on. Giving you a wide range of author's this book gives you a large canvas to view relationships and their demise from. Some letters are from famous ladies, and the others are not so famous. I think the value of this is walking away with the knowledge that life goes on without that particular person in your life. All in all a book that evokes sympathy, laughter, and a tear or two.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jody VINE VOICE on February 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hell Hath No Fury is a collection of letters written by women and the end of a relationship. The letters are grouped by themes starting with the fantastically gritty "tell-off" letter, some of these got very nasty. Two categories I thought stood out were the autopsy letter (the letter where we dissect everything that went wrong with the relationship) as well as the unsent letter.

There are MANY letters in this book and at least half of them are snoozers or too desperate-sounding to be enjoyable reading.

There are some absolute gems, though, especially some of the historical figures including a letter from Anne Boleyn (in the tower awaiting trial) to King Henry VIII. I also enjoyed the letters from Zelda, Sylvia Plath, and Sandra Bernhardt. The book is practical for subway commuting since most letters are at most a few pages long.
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