Lois Gould Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Gould, Lois 1938(?)–

Gould is an American novelist, journalist, and former magazine editor. Her protagonists are contemporary women facing the complex problems of freedom in a society of shifting mores and values. (See also CLC, Vol. 4, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)

Annie Gottlieb

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["A Sea-Change,"] a weird, "Persona"-esque fable about power and sexual identity, is what will be called controversial. Freudian analysts, if there are any left, will call it penis envy. Feminists (and lesbians) will call it reactionary. It will also be called racist, and maybe even sick. Apart from all that, does it work on its own terms? Is it a good book?…

There is considerable suspense in "A Sea-Change," but surely not in the sense the author intended. One reads on not to see what Gould is going to do, but whether she will be able to figure out what she wants to do. In this murky psychological fable, swirling and swelling with inchoate forces, the writer seems as uncertain of what will...

(The entire section is 656 words.)

Anne Tyler

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In Lois Gould's third novel, "Final Analysis," the almost ludicrously masochistic heroine eventually straightened herself out by withdrawing alone to a deserted beach cottage to write a book. It was a curiously sudden sort of resolution—perfunctory, vague, as if the author herself were not entirely convinced of its feasibility.

Now in "A Sea-Change," Lois Gould's fourth novel, we find another woman withdrawing to another beach cottage—maybe hoping to get it right this time…. [We're] back with the heroines of "Final Analysis" and "Such Good Friends"—women who feel a sense of disgust for themselves and who are drawn to men who share that disgust. (p. 4)

The purpose of Jessie's...

(The entire section is 333 words.)

Ella Leffland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If this novel had been written ten years ago, I doubt that it would have been published. Bad writing in itself never kept a book from print if its subject was hot, but what audience in prelib days would have been thought ready for an oppressed woman who at the climax of a hurricane turns into the gunman she was raped by? Supernatural sex change could be entertaining (Orlando, Turnabout), but what would one make of the subject drenched in mythology and awash with symbols, a dark churning vehicle for the sufferings of Woman in a male-dominated world?…

Once an idea's time arrives, the novels rush forth in droves to meet the demand. Some meet it creatively; too many, like A Sea-Change,...

(The entire section is 836 words.)

Judith Viorst

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

At the end of this witty and intelligent collection of essays ["Not Responsible for Personal Articles"] Lois Gould wonders what has happened to what she terms "the old ethical feminism." "We used to come together from very different places," she writes, "and we came not to judge, destroy, appease or lie to each other, but to find the connective tissues, without ever disowning our differences. Therein used to lie our strength."

Whether or not that strength has been lost to the women's movement … there is plenty of connective tissue in this book, which takes a feminist look at the meaning and morality of everything from ERA to Bloomingdale's. And, while readers may find themselves—as I...

(The entire section is 245 words.)