The Awakening & Book Giveaway #2

by | March 28, 2011
filed under Books, Feminism

It’s time for another edition of the highly informal Gender Focus book club, where I read & review books suggested by you, and sometimes give away copies.

So far I’ve looked at Forbidden Passages: Writings Banned in Canada, and Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women.

This month’s book is Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, recommended by two readers, Em and Jessica, on our Facebook page. Em says The Awakening changed her life.

I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Chopin’s book revolves around Edna Pontellier, an American woman married to a Creole man, living in Louisiana. Originally published in 1899, The Awakening was shocking at the time for its portrayal of Mrs. Pontellier’s independence, unhappiness with her marriage, and desire for an extra-marital relationship with Robert, a man she meets while at a summer cottage with her family.

Mrs. Pontellier’s “awakening” is exemplified in a conversation she has with her friend Madame Ratignolle while at the beach that summer: “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

Although Mrs. Pontellier’s eventual level of infidelity would hardly be shocking by modern standards, the overall message that loveless relationships born of social obligation are tragic continuese to be relevant, and Mrs. Pontellier’s struggle for self-actualization through questioning societal conventions is poignant.

Chopin turned to writing after her husband died, pressured to support her family. She died five years after The Awakening was published, ostracized for writing it. It took a few decades before the book was rediscovered and recognized for its significance.

I’m having my 2nd book giveaway this month. Enter by 5 PM PST on Friday, April 1st for a chance to win a copy of The Awakening plus some cool feminist buttons, stickers, and bookmarks.

If you live in Canada or the US, you can get two chances to enter this giveaway:

To enter once, comment on this post and tell me your favourite woman character from fiction (books, TVs, movies, etc.).

To get a second entry, post the following on Twitter:

I entered to win Kate Chopin’s The Awakening & feminist swag from @jarrahpenguin and RT to win!

Good luck and happy reading!


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  • Jessica

    The book that changed my life was given to me by my mother when I was in elementary school. “Smile Like a Plastic Daisy”, with strong protagonist Claudia, opened my eyes to gender discrimination through literature. Feminism had always been an open topic in my house, but to read it in a book touched me.

    I still have the book my mother gave to me… pages well loved and her inscription “To You, Who will never be a token woman.” Inside the cover…

  • Amanda

    My favourite fictional female character has always been Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. She is such a great example of the strong female fantasy hero, without most of the crap that they stuff into the pulp ones. She was definitely an inspiration and role model when I was a child.

    Also tweeted about this @ColonelHazard

  • Michelle Parsneau

    My favorite female charater is Beauty, from Robin McKinley’s “Beauty, a Retelling of Beauty and the Beast”. She is strong yet afraid, principled, smart, suffers no illusions about how she looks, sacrifices for her family, and does all the things one expects of a hero. In fact, anything by Robin McKinley is on my must read list. Her heroines are wonderful, and I highly recommend the books to anyone with teen or pre-teen daughters looking for realistic role models and strong female characters.

  • My favorite character was Anne of Green Gables from the books! I was given the whole set as a kid and adored Anne’s desire for reading and refusal to be teased about her hair!

  • Offred– the handmaid’s tale!

  • Virginia R

    There are so many, but i’m very fond of Jilly Coppercorn from Charles de Lint’s books. Strong, smart, sweet, caring, but not naive, not perfect, not dependent on anyone (esp. not a man) (although very connected to many friends), overcomes a lot, not always easily, but does triumph…. that’s not very linear or even coherent, but i’ll pretend it’s complex like her;)

    (also, Cdn fantasy author!:D)

  • Michelle Parsneau.

    The package arrived today. Thanks so much! Amazing book, awesome buttons, cool stickers, and book marks, which I always need. You are awesome!