"This book was born out of anger," begins Cathi Hanauer, which seems appropriate considering the book's title: The Bitch in the House
. What could have been a collective gripe about the day-to-day routine of holding a family or relationship together is instead a witty, and sometimes bitchy, read. These postfeminist mothers, lovers, wives, and independent women candidly put forward their anger in the taffy-pull world of household responsibility. Jill Bialosky puts it most succinctly, "I had wanted to get married, but I realized now that I had never wanted to be a 'wife'." There are essays written by those who willfully, and often playfully, seek a life independent from domesticated routine, and others who have aged past the concerns of being a self-fulfilled and responsible mother. Author and poet Ellen Gilchrist, who is also a mother and a grandmother, sets this lasting tone of contentment, "Family and work. Family and work. I can let them be at war, with guilt as their nuclear weapon and mutually assured destruction as their aim, or I can let them nourish each other."
Not entirely angry, it is ultimately a satisfying read. There are no intended messages on how women can improve their relationships with their husbands, partners, and children. That is the beauty of the book. They have instead revealed modern motherhood, and solitude, as it is, and may have been all along. --Karin Rosman
From Publishers Weekly
In the spirit of Virginia Woolf, who wrote of killing the "Angel in the House," these 26 women mostly professional writers focus on the inner "bitch": the frustration, anger and rage that's never far from the surface of many women's lives. They sound off on the difficult decisions of living with lovers, marrying, staying single and having children. Those who haven't chosen the single life are almost always frustrated by their mates' incompetence or their toddlers' neediness. (They reserve special scorn for overly laid-back live-in lovers content to live off a hardworking woman's checkbook.) While a handful of entries touch other sources of anger being criticized for one's weight, simultaneously caring for ailing parents and a young family, coping with a husband who's out to win his baby daughter's loyalty most focus on the love vs. work problem. For many of these women, this means a struggle over the right to be a bitch and inflict unpleasantness on others for the sake of a higher goal (one's work) versus the feminine imperative to "make nice." While unbridled rage is terribly cathartic even in print it's the quieter moments that provide more food for thought. Daphne Merkin's observation that she's "more equipped to handle the risks of loneliness than those of intimacy" and thus better off divorced, or Nancy Wartik's thought that "some compromises might actually be healthy," will ring true for many readers. Others may find it comforting to know that even smart, articulate, successful women can have deeply unsettled inner lives.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.