Braided Lives (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Poetry, feminism, and political activism are the strands that have composed Marge Piercy’s public life for the past twenty-five years. Her seventh novel, apparently more autobiographical than previous books, explores the experiences that mark Jill Stuart’s passage into womanhood. Despite the book’s autobiographical basis, it is not primarily personal; like many women’s coming-of-age novels, it tells of entwined lives. Although Jill is essentially an outsider, many women of her generation passed through college in the 1950’s and through first marriages in the 1960’s to become the new feminists of the 1970’s. Why were they not permanently misshapen by the enormous pressures toward conformity, the feminine mystique, the rigid sex roles, the massive lecture classes, the fraternity pins and cashmere sweater sets, the rush to achieve marriage before the end of four college years? Answering these questions, Braided Lives is political in the broadest sense: it not only traces the convictions that grow from personal experiences but also contains a political message for the 1980’s.
Jill Stuart is able to forge an identity of her own, in part, because she is a chronic misfit. The Kazan-Jewish looks inherited from her mother do not suit the name that comes from her Welsh father. Very few white children attend her Detroit grade school—and the...
(The entire section is 2055 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Books and Bookmen. July, 1982, p. 15.
Library Journal. CVII, January 1, 1982, p. 109.
Ms. X, June, 1982, p. 18.
The New Leader. LXV, January 25, 1982, pp. 18-19.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, February 7, 1982, p. 7.
The New Yorker. LVII, February 22, 1982, p. 128.
The Progressive. XLVI, July, 1982, p. 62.
Publishers Weekly. CCXX, December 11, 1981, p. 51.
Saturday Review. IX, February, 1982, p. 60.
Times Literary Supplement. July 23, 1982, p. 807.
Wilson Library Bulletin. LVI, March, 1982, p. 548.
(The entire section is 62 words.)