GENERATIONS by Myriam Miedzian


A Century of Women Speak About Their Lives
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 Unadorned recollections of women's lives, spanning all the generations born in this century. Miedzian (Boys Will Be Boys, not reviewed) and Malinovich, a mother-and-daughter team, interviewed dozens of women, dividing the remembrances into sections about growing up, family, and work. In their exchanges, the authors tried to span not only differences in age, but economic, religious, and cultural variations. Certainly, the differences are stark. To the women born in the early part of the century, sex was a taboo topic- -young girls began menstruating without a word of warning from mothers or grandmothers, and baby brothers or sisters would appear in the home as if by magic. Among the young women born in the '60s and '70s (one of whom runs a condom shop), no topic seems to be taboo. To women born before 1920, marriage was virtually the only choice for their adult lives and they were subject to their husbands, however reluctantly, as they had been subject to their fathers. Women born after the late '60s seem to have a plethora of choices, about work, marriage, children, and sexual preference. The differences are interesting, and the similarities are striking. Women born in the early 1900s worked from dawn to long past dark, cooking, cleaning, canning, tending children, and managing a household; women born in the late part of the century also work from dawn to long past dark, juggling demanding jobs, children, and household management. Women born from the 1930s to the 1950s are the bridge generation who caught the wave of the protest movements: civil rights, Vietnam, and feminism. They, perhaps more than the others, found themselves thrown onto the sand at midlife in a different world. Some interesting raw material here, but both the drama of the individual lives and the analysis that would lend them weight are missing. (First printing of 40,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-87113-678-3
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997