Annie Ernaux | Critical Review by Kirkus Reviews

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Annie Ernaux.
This section contains 353 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Kirkus Reviews

Critical Review by Kirkus Reviews

SOURCE: A review of A Frozen Woman, in Kirkus Reviews, Vol. LXIII, No. 5, March 1, 1995, pp. 250-51.

In the review below, the critic summarizes the plot of A Frozen Woman.

French writer Ernaux (Simple Passion, 1993, etc.) continues her thinly disguised fictional autobiography [with A Frozen Woman], this time recalling with numbing intensity her passage to a womanhood trapped by convention and domesticity.

The unnamed narrator reworks some old ground as she describes growing up in a bourgeois but unconventional family. Her parents operated a small convenience store, a "landscape" where there were no "mute, submissive women." Her father peeled potatoes, her mother kept the books, and both encouraged their daughter to excel at school. "Dust doesn't exist for her [mother], or rather it's something natural, not a problem," and her mother teaches the narrator that "the world is made to be pounced on … enjoyed … that there is absolutely no reason at all to hold back." But as the protagonist grows up, even though her parents spare her "the idea that little girls are gentle and weak, and that they have different roles to play," she learns otherwise from her classmates. They boast of their mothers' domestic talents; then, as they grow older, it's fashion and boys. By high school, though tempted by their thinking, the narrator continues to aim for higher education and a career. In her final year of college, her resistance weakens when she falls in love and marries. Soon, she feels trapped by domesticity, and when pregnancy interrupts her finals she's desperate; even the furniture is an "insidious entrapment" demanding to be cared for. She completes her degree, starts teaching, then finds, like all women, that she has two jobs: Men are free after work; the supermarket is her reward "for going out." Finally, another pregnancy and unending housework lead to her admission that "pursuing a career" is best left to men. She teaches part-time, her husband is successful, she wears expensive clothes, but she's a "frozen woman."

Very Gallic, very rational, very true. But, still, of all Ernaux's writing: the most polemical and arid.

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This section contains 353 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Kirkus Reviews
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