Normal Women: From the Number One Bestselling Author Comes 900 Years of Women Making History
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On the one hand, Dani (with a degree in philosophy) doesn’t have a “career” per se — and they already know that finding day care will be an issue — but on the other, Dani understands the power and freedom that she’ll be giving up if she allows Clark to make all the money. Motherthing is one of my top reads of the year, and I knew how much I adored Ainslie Hogarth's writing and plot formation. A beautifully woven history of women which details the origins of today's inequalities such as, how women's labour moved from valued and paid to being invisible and free and why we have been forced into two genders.
Though I recognize I won’t ever be able to relate to motherhood nor the unequal social pressures women face, the depiction of both motherhood and sex work in this felt at times to be a bit of a mockery rather than satire. Throughout History, they have so often been expected to act as genteel ladies and confined to the home - often described as the 'angel in the house'. I love sipping my tea and watching rich women scream at each other and talk crap about their husbands. One Woman Show doesn’t wholly deliver as a commentary on art’s interplay with ownership and power but it’s compulsive nevertheless – unexpectedly poignant, too. Although probably a biased sample because I’m not seeking out women, but I am forced to endure the horror that is straight men’s dating app bios).It’s almost like too much is going on in the book and she needed more pages to accomplish everything that she wanted to, but she got lost trying to prioritize everything, so now nothing feels like a complete thought. When Dani meets Renata, a magnetic and revolutionary force, she introduces her to a lifestyle that Dani can't help but feel drawn to with shameful desire.
We hear from famous lesbians including Queen Anne and Gentleman Jack and less famous lovers rescued from the footnotes of history. Her dissatisfaction with her life draws her to the Temple, an organization of sex workers who Dani slowly integrates herself into for its promise of independence and financial freedom it can provide to her and her daughter.How far apart are their desires, dreams and anxieties from each other’s beneath the surface of social expectation? But far from remaining passive, many used their influence to put themselves at the heart of radical social change.
The book delves very little into some of the broader discourse at play here (like gentrification, sexism and capitalism), but the dark humour ultimately didn’t land for me.
I would've wanted Hogarth to take on a Kajillionaire (by Miranda July) move with our protagonist's bond with the life-changer, Renata, but Hogarth remains strictly straight, showing us the heartsick horrors of hetero life. Before becoming an author, Coulson worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, writing wall-mounted labels to accompany exhibits.
There are only a few other reviews for this book right now, most of which complain about the pacing.Brisk and direct in the telling (there are more penises than English women in Bayeux tapestry, she notes), it covers 900 years, expanding our sense of “normal women” by conjuring up a sisterhood of weavers, nuns and housewives, jousters, highwaywomen and ship-builders. This is my personal opinion, I may be missing an obvious point of the story, so please do share your thoughts with me! Hogarth probes the experience of contemporary motherhood by probing the fissures that split a young parent in two — sometimes literally, as in the case of Dani’s cesarean section — and force her into new forms. Grove Press An imprint of Grove Atlantic, an American independent publisher, who publish in the UK through Atlantic Books.