Pushing Against the Apocalypse

“It seemed that Lessing was a writer to discover in your thirties; a writer who wrote about the lives of grown-up women with an honesty and fullness I had not found in any novelist before or since,” Lara Feigel writes in the opening pages of her memoir Free Woman: Life, Liberation, and Doris Lessing. Feigel returns to The Golden Notebook during summer wedding season. After “white weddings, gold weddings; weddings in village churches, on beaches, at woolen mills,” she finds herself wondering: Is this it? Why do her friends seem so eager to throw their selves away for a man or a family? “They began by identifying as part of a couple and then once a child arrived they identified themselves primarily as mothers.” She is happily married and trying for a second child. Yet she begins to resent “the apparent assumption that this remained the only way to live.”
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