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The Heart of a Woman Paperback – April 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812980328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812980325
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Oprah Book Club® Selection, May 1997: Maya Angelou has had more lives than the proverbial cat, and in The Heart of a Woman she continues the account of her remarkable life begun in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In the first book of her bestselling autobiographical series, she describes her traumatic childhood in the small, segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas, during the 1930s. Gather Together in My Name picks up the story in the postwar years, when Maya, a single teenager with an infant son becomes, in short order, a cook, a madam, a dancer, and a prostitute. Next comes Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, an account of her twenties and her unsuccessful first marriage to a white man. The Heart of a Woman, the fourth in the series, takes us through one of the most exciting and formative periods of Angelou's amazing life: her beginnings as a writer and an activist in New York.

Angelou has a happy knack of attracting the best and the brightest into her orbit, and The Heart of a Woman offers a veritable cornucopia of black luminaries in its pages. Singer Billie Holiday, writers John Ellins and Paule Marshall, jazz musicians Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, and actors Godfrey Cambridge and James Earl Jones--Maya meets and learns from them all. Political activism soon follows as Ms. Angelou first organizes a theatrical benefit for the Reverend Martin Luther King and then becomes the director of the New York Southern Christian Leadership Conference office. Her involvement in the civil rights movement eventually brings her into contact with African freedom fighters Oliver Tambo and the charming Vusumzi Make, whom she marries and follows to Africa.

The Heart of a Woman is as honest, painful, funny, outraged, and outrageous as Angelou herself. From her debut at the Apollo Theatre to her meeting with Malcolm X, Maya Angelou gives us something to cheer about and plenty to ponder as well. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Remarkable . . . a great lady moving right on through a great memoir.”
–Kirkus Reviews

“Maya Angelou has . . . achieved a kind of literary breakthrough which few writers of any time, place, or race achieve. . . . What makes [her] writing unique is . . . a melding of unconcerned honesty, consummate craft, and perfect descriptive pitch, yielding a rare compound of great emotional force and authenticity.”
–The Washington Post Book World

“To say that Angelou is a living legend is in no way an exaggeration. [She is] one of the great voices of contemporary literature.”
–The Voice

“Angelou is one of the geniuses of the Afro-American serial autobiography.”
–The New York Times

“A uniquely gifted wordsmith and storyteller.”
–The San Diego Union-Tribune

More About the Author

Maya Angelou has been waitress, singer, actress, dancer, activist, filmmaker, writer and mother. As well as her autobiography she has written several volumes of poetry, including 'On the Pulse of the Morning' for the inauguration of President Clinton. She now has a life-time appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

Maya Angelou has such a beautiful spirit, and she really struggled.
JS
There are parts of the book where I was laughing out loud at situations she gotten her self into and how she handled them.
D. Gaskin
This is the type of book you will not want to put down once you start reading.
Joy T Massey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Carrie on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
The first time I heard Maya A. speak, I had the little hairs at the back of my neck stand upright! I was moved and in awe.
I have read several of her works, all of which were cherished. However, after reading "Heart" I felt a deeper awareness. I am a middle class, white woman. I will NEVER understand the hate, fear, and anger experienced by anyone of color- no matter how much I learn, no matter how much I empathize. What I will share with all races is that emotions are emotions, no matter the color. Raising a child, falling in love and then realizing, "Oops, wrong one"...parental love, fear, anger...all make us human. I feel closer to this world for having forced myself to think about past misery and hatred. I wish my children the grace and dignity displayed by a remarkable woman. Thank You for reaching my soul.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Maya Angelou impresses me. What a life! So many lives at the same: it's crazy. I've just watched a movie (featuring Wesley Snipes) that she has recently directed and which reminded of the kind of woman that I thought she was when I read her "Heart": compassionate, human...
Reading Angelou made me aware of what it is was to be a woman and a mother in America. I've read about fictional characters that had comparable difficulties and faced them with astonishing courage and endurance, but reading Maya made it more real for me. Doing that while one has so many commitments at the same time certainly compels admiration.
Words are inadequate to express how I felt to enter the heart of a woman that has so many experiences to share and read a book that is so simply and yet masterfully written.
In this review, I didn't want to be academic and all (commenting on the themes, the syntax, the structure, etc.). I just wanted to communicated what Maya's heart has put in my heart. Go for it, it's humanizing and worth-reading.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Neis on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Heart of a Woman is a continuation of Angelou's autobiography, chronicling her adult life as a mother, wife and freedom fighter. The story begins with her decision to move to New York in the late 1950's when Martin Luther King and Malcom X were the most central political figures of that time. There she begins to write, produces the Cabaret of Freedom, a collaboration of performances given to raise money for the SCLC, becomes employed then by the SCLC in a position only held by men previously. Shortly after she has been working such a prestigious job, she meets and marries an African freedom-fighter who wisks Angelou and her son, Guy, off to Cairo where she knows noone. Maya Angelou appears to create good out of bad, a woman faced with tragedy numerous times throughout her life, yet comes out triumphant and victorious each time. Never did I feel as if I was being led to lament with her difficulties. On the contrary, I felt admiration for a woman who inhabited a strong sense of self and an even stronger zest for living. An inspirational story I would recommend to anyone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Heart of a Woman" tells of a courageous woman, Maya Angelou, who maintains a career as a dancer while raising a rebellious teenage son. She also identifies with the struggle and hardships of dealing with relationships. Her encounters with famous people such as Billie Holiday, Malcom X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, reflects strength in her writing and her passion for life. This book will inspire everyone to be successful in their everyday living. This great book will also bring out "The Heart of a Woman" in everyone.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David A Chisholm on February 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the first three books, but this one seems to have been written by someone else; the Maya who wrote I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings has disappeared, and the writer who took her place left me irritated, sometimes offended, and absolutely disappointed. This is the last book of Maya's that I will read, as she has completely turned me off with an arrogance, hatefulness, and extreme sense of entitlement that were not present at all in the first three books.

I also had to comment on her frustrating contradictions regarding white people. She often embraces her mother's feelings towards whites, as evidenced by her agreement with the following example: "Black folks can't change because white folks won't change." But later, when there are many white people who are diligently and passionately fighting for the civil rights movement and for progressive change to benefit blacks, she chooses to condone and even advocate Malcolm X's beliefs that "There are whites who give monely to the SCLC the NAACP and the Urban League. Some even go so far as to march with you in the streets. But let me tell you who they are. Any white American who says he's your friend is either weak or he's an infiltrator. Either he'll be too scared to help you when you need help or he's getting close to you so he can find out your plans and deliver you back in chains to his brothers." So which is it Maya? Apparently white folks can't win, for when they do nothing, they are continuing to enforce black oppression, and when they do something, they are scheming to keep the black man down through evil pretension and sly, malevolent friendship. I couldn't believe it when I read the passage where Maya actually agrees with all of this.
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