A WOMAN'S LIFE by Susan Cheever


The Story of an Ordinary American and Her Extraordinary Generation
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 Cheever (Elizabeth Cole, 1989) tried to use her own life as fodder for previous books; this time around she uses somebody else's. Here she tells the true story of Linda Green in order to explore the meaning of the American Dream for the ``average'' woman baby boomer. Born in 1948, Linda grew up in Passaic, NJ, as ``a princess,'' showered with pretty dresses and her family's undivided attention. Linda didn't disappoint them--she was a sensitive, ``pliant'' teenager who continued to live a 1950s life in the middle of the 1960s. During high school, she met an intelligent jock named David; later, in college, she got engaged to him, went on the pill, had sex, and got married. Unfortunately, her dream of Prince Charming fell apart when David dropped out of law school (because he no longer believed in the system), smoked pot constantly, ridiculed her job as a teacher while expecting her salary to support them, and promoted and practiced open marriage. Ultimately, Linda gathered enough self-esteem to leave. Not long after, she married Clint, an ex-pupil who at first seemed sensitive to Linda's needs but who turned out to be conservative, self- centered, and inflexible; yet she defends him, insisting that ``his life is hard too.'' Today, she sticks with Clint and their two children and continues her meaningful teaching career (although at a significantly slower pace than she would like). Despite her complex experience as a modern woman, Linda's simple dream ``is to have a happy family.'' Cheever's feminist interpretations of Linda's choices, drawing from the likes of Carol Gilligan and Susan Faludi, add little clarity or insight into Linda's condition. A less than extraordinary exploration of a woman who still puts everyone else's needs before her own, offering little hope of genuine fulfillment for her generation.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12194-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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