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The Heart of a Woman Paperback – April 21, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

Millions have read Maya Angelou's national bestseller The Heart of a Woman, and now you can hear her fascinating story in the author's own voice. Angelou exposes a turbulent period of her life as she struggles to raise a child, fulfill her goals as a writer, and fight for civil rights in an age of social injustice; Angelou's rich and resonating voice draws the listener into the unexpected details of her life. Working as a nightclub singer in Los Angeles, Angelou decides to move to New York with her son Guy in hopes of building stronger ties with the black art community. In an attempt to find stability for Guy and make a name for herself, her love life takes wild turns. Should she marry the bail bondsman who's as dry as stale bread or run away with the African freedom fighter? Her heart takes her to Africa, where her writing career blossoms but her marriage sours. The Heart of a Woman is filled with beautiful prose and songs; Angelou displays her music talent in several vignettes, most memorably in a scene with Billie Holiday: Angelou is performing at a nightclub when Holiday shrieks, "Stop her, stop her... she sounds like my mama!" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“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

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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: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 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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23 of 24 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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27 of 30 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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dee on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I just finished "Heart Of A Woman". I had read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" last year. Several weeks ago I decided to read the rest of her books. Thus, I've read "Gather Together In My Name", and "Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas" in succesion. This book is one of the best that I've ever read, and I read alot of books! Her life is so interesting and eventful. Even though she relates her trajedies as well as her joys, you don't feel sorry for her, because through everything she remains true to herself and thereby comes out on top. Her tender devotion to her son is very touching. Through a childhood of constant changes he is depicted as a wonderful human being, equally devoted to his mother. There are parts of the book where I was laughing out loud at situations she gotten her self into and how she handled them. What a woman! I've just ordered "Travelin' Shoes", which I think is the last in the series of autobiographical books. I will continue to read her poems and whatever works she has produced. She is a woman to be respected and admired.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By WILLIAM H FULLER on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
THE HEART OF A WOMAN continues Angelou's autobiographical series that begins with I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS and continues with GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME and SINGIN' & SWINGIN' & GETTIN' MERRY LIKE CHRISTMAS. It is the fourth "installment" in this series, and, while it is an interesting recounting of Angelou's life into the decade of the 1960's, it will be more instructive for the reader who has followed the series of books in their chronological order.

HEART continues in exactly the same vein as the earlier books: The reader sees an Angelou who, despite many unfortunate life experiences, has yet to develop discernment insofar as male companions are concerned. Consequently, she continues as the naive pawn of males who betray her childlike faith and trust in them. After seeing this theme replayed so often in the books thus far, the reader begins to wonder whether Angelou sees herself through some sort of "victim mentality," a self-destructive image resulting from an abused childhood. Was she really taken advantage of so often and so consistently in her life? Would a biography written by a thoroughly objective outside observer show us the same Angelou that she herself depicts? Or is the picture that we see in her books one that was painted with the brush of self doubt and inferiority fashioned from the instability of her formative years? The reader should bear in mind that what we are reading may be more of a psychological self-analysis than demonstrable history. That does not make the book any less revealing of its author; it merely means that the reader should be aware of the type of revelation he is viewing.

Angelou's racist attitudes persist more or less unabated in HEART.
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