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The Woman Destroyed (Pantheon Modern Writers) Paperback – August 12, 1987
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"A remarkable feat of empathy."
—The Times Literary Supplement
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Top Customer Reviews
I would recommend this small masterpiece to anyone, but I think that mature women's audience is going to appreciate and understand it the most.
When Monique in the title story reflects that she should have known her marriage was on the skids when her husband told her she should buy a one-piece bathing suit, she immediatley reflects guiltily that she has let her thighs get fat, that her stomach is no longer completely flat... If I were Monique, I might reflect that it was a missed chance to craquer cher Maurice on the head with a deckchair.
Instead, Monique immediately stops eating (quelle surpise) and the first thing her estranged daughter says to her is that her resulting weight loss suits her. It's no wonder that after fifteen years of this, Monique is gimpless when Maurice starts an affair with a younger woman.
Sans doute, de Beauvoir was attempting a critique of such overmastering dependency, but it's also very, very raw-feeling. The price paid by those chic women for thier polish and beauty is this overpowering, constant self-scrutiny; no wonder existentialism, no wonder a modern book like Thornytorinx (in case you think the problem is solved).
This is powerful, true stuff, then, which reminded me of some of Dorothy Parker's best stories (without the humour) but I also felt irrtated with the spineless protagonists of all three stories. Don't be so needy, I wanted to scream. Go to a bar. Go to a jardin. Go to a boulanger. Live a little, before you finally die. In other words, the book feels not so much dated as in need of contestation. I would have enjoyed it more if another character had voiced the limitations of the protagonists' viewpoints.
Anyway, to get to the book, this book is not like "All Men are Mortal" or "The Second Sex" in that, there is less advocation and pontificating going on here (this is a neutral judgment, by the way). It is more straightforward fiction; I would liken it to a minimalization of Balzac's view for the French society: It captures three woman in sharp, short snapshots at specific points in lives. What comes of this? Read and find out.
There is no woman who will not identify with most of the story. I was clearly thinking - only a woman can write such a story, becuse a man would never get it. Getting so desparate as to do the handwriting analysis, reading the horosocpes, seeking advice from anyone, and NOT LETTING GO, becuse she lost herself in this marriage and she can't bear the thought of finding herself back. I felt for both women in the story and both were so real.
A woman who ever denies feeling even parts of what Monique is feeling is lying to herself and others.
This is so painfully realistic!
The first story, "The Age of Discretion," deals with a mother of a grown son. She'd always had such a strong influence on him and on his life decisions, and now copes with his independent views and choices. An American might call her controlling and withholding, but many mothers, including me, might also relate to the conflicting feelings of a child pulling away (although it usually happens when they are children!). At the same time, this mother, a respected writer, has come out with a new book, one that receives only mediocre reviews. She is forced to deal with the idea that her years of work on that book and a related follow-up she is currently working on are wasted effort. Twined in with all this is the simple fact of aging and diminishing. She observes it in her husband and confronts it in herself. Such good writing.
"Monologue" is a long stream-of-consciousness rant, difficult to read due to long paragraphs and esoteric punctuation. This woman rails against everything and everyone. She's one put-upon lady. No fun to read, not the format and not the subject. Luckily, it's the shortest story.
The best by far is the title story, about a woman whose husband is having an affair. This is told in diary form by the betrayed wife, Monique, so would reflect her innermost thoughts on what happens and how she responds. de Beauvoir's writing is so intelligent and the storyline so French.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beauvoir is a sublime writer of fiction. Her perspective as a woman is mature and compelling.Published 3 months ago by MAM
Simone De Beauvoir's prose is masterful! Excellent book.Published 6 months ago by Gevais N Jefferson
Was super disappointed when I received the book, as I was expecting the fuchsia cover that was advertised and the cover of the copy I received was of an older print. Read morePublished 12 months ago by LBoos
I did not like the book and wish I had never read it!!!!!Published 16 months ago by Carol Ann H. Skelton
I have been waiting for Simone De Beauvoir's work to become available for Kindle, and it finally has. The title novella, The Woman Destroyed is worth the price of the book. Read morePublished on May 9, 2014 by Chelsea Girl
I hate to write reviews when I don't want to do it. Amazon, you all should consider changing this. As I have typed before - this is annoying and lame.Published on April 16, 2014 by tkay2u
I guess covers aren't SUPER important, but I take pride in my book shelf looking beautiful, which is exactly what I thought of the cover shown. Read morePublished on February 9, 2014 by sarah vyeda
I enjoy reading something a little different and love Simone de Beauvoir. THis was well written, It contains 3 short stories. I have to admit I only read two of them. Read morePublished on November 4, 2013 by surfergirl