Customer Review

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, March 7, 2005
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This review is from: Hell Hath No Fury: Women's Letters from the End of the Affair (Hardcover)
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.

Another drawback that I found was the unusual, extremely high number of typographical errors, which made me wonder if I might not have been reading an uncorrected copy. But the good quality of the paper and altogether nice edition sort of made up for that :)

All in all, it's an enjoyable book (even if it's so uneven as to make you wonder why some of the letters are featured at all) and I read it through in only a few days because of its historical and emotional interest. I suggest you get a used copy - even though it'll probably make a fun read, I don't think it's worth buying new.
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