THE LANGUAGES OF LOVE by Sara Maitland

THE LANGUAGES OF LOVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mythic and medical speculations concerning one woman's obsessive need for pregnancy are strenuously threaded through this tale of Liz, an English career woman and activist who desperately wants a baby. Married to Ian, a kind and gentle ex-homosexual who also yearns for offspring, Liz learns from Dr. Marshall, head of the Clinic, that her inability to ovulate probably stems from a rejection of her own femininity. So, over the next nine (of Course) months, Liz will hammer on promising doors to enlightenment: raps and dialectic with her women's group; playing with bizarre solutions, like Ian having her baby by another woman; self-analysis with journeys into a past of fatherly ""betrayal"" and lovers' tyranny; and identification with the ancient mysteries and powers of Woman--bleeding, conceiving, birthing, and nourishing. (Throughout there are meditations on women of the Bible, from the rage of Jael to the ""assent"" of Mary.) And, while the women's group flings around theory, the endless chatter just accelerates Liz's terror and anger: Ian and Liz at one point come to blows, and Liz has a brief adulterous episode with her boss. But then there's a cleansing aftermath, a friend begins labor in Liz's home (aided by her lesbian lover), and finally Liz may be pregnant. . . as she hears Ian's confession about his need to be a father. Like many feminist novels penned in the thin air of mountain-top Women's Metaphysics, this tends to politicize and to zero in on the pelvic region (there's more about female plumbing than most readers care to slosh about in). However Maitland, while typically fevered in outlook, writes with a touch of class, and the dialogue--trendy, pithy--is often quick and bright; so, though most readers will find it all quite enervating, feminists with a mythic turn of mind may be intrigued.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday