THE EDUCATION OF AN ORDINARY WOMAN by Lois Mark Stalvey

THE EDUCATION OF AN ORDINARY WOMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

. . . not so very ordinary, since Stalvey, author of a successful broadside for racial justice, Education of a WASP (1970), has had an unusually successful career in advertising. But, nonetheless, this autobiography is intended to reveal how one woman, now in her fifties, coped with men, career, motherhood, and even mental illness--on the way to a satisfying personhood. Lois learned independence early, she claims, by the age of four--after her beloved father walked out, after an adored uncle died: ""I was alone and responsible for my own survival."" And, escaping her cheerless Milwaukee household (grandparents, mother), Lois, editor of the school paper in spite of sliding grades, decided to earn a writer's living: ""If you were good enough rules were no longer rules."" So: a teen column at 14 for the local store and career opportunities galore. But then, at 18, came World War II and the nice boy she loved, Tony Bronski. How could she let him down? Reluctantly, then, Lois married and followed Tony from camp to camp, taking jobs here and there (eating was a higher priority than sex), returning to writing only when he was overseas. Radio shows, advertising triumphs ensued--and when Tony returned, there was an amiable divorce. Then: years of failed love affairs (one abortion)--till trustworthy ad-man George Stalvey and motherhood. One day, however, ""it was almost relaxing to look up at George and realize that I did not like him at all."" And when her eldest left for college, Lois suffered severe, suicidal depression. So, through psychiatric help she uncovered at last the self that survived early traumas and the disaster of her marriage; and now she revels in a special and wonderful ""aloneness. . . I was absolutely free."" All in all: a glossy curriculum vitae from a pleasantly facile writer--but the self-examination doesn't cut deep enough to illuminate some very familiar (and, here, somewhat muddled) female conflicts.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum