Books by Jo-Ann Krestan

Released: July 7, 1993

A loving, if not very creative, analysis of the conflicts that arise when women try to foster both relationships and personal fulfillment. Family therapists Bepko and Krestan (Too Good for Her Own Good, 1990) contend, not surprisingly, that women can have both. The authors researched the issue by surveying more than 300 women, and by following up with 45 intense personal interviews. They were ``surprised'' to find that many still believe that relationships are more important than self-expression—although one wonders why that finding startled them: The research of Carol Gilligan and others has made the dominance of relationships in women's lives a point of feminist debate for years. Besides exploring the priorities of relationships, the survey's questions also probed how women defined and shaped (or did not shape) their creative lives (Mary Catherine Bateson's Composing a Life, 1989, covers this territory more fully, with less gushing admiration for creative women). The early chapters here are best, examining the patriarchal culture that has made it rewarding for women to nurture relationships and not their individuality. On the basis of the survey, the authors group women into four types—''lovers,'' ``leaders,'' ``innovators,'' and ``artists''—depending on where their priorities lie. The authors seem to prefer women who dump their pasts in order to become poets, artists, or marginal entrepreneurs. The anecdotes about women like these who live a ``passionate life'' are compelling, and some of Bepko and Krestan's insights challenge conventional wisdom—e.g., that children are less disruptive of the creative life than marriage is. (Questionnaires, as well as profiles of the respondents, are included as appendices.) Excellent for its historical summary of the tensions that women face in choosing between the creative and the caring life, but unconvincing for its typecasting. Read full book review >