The main character, Marie, was horrified by the way women were treated in her life and community. One of the most surprising things in this book was her open discussion of having two abortions and her tremendous fear of childbirth and control by men. It was heartbreaking to read of her trying to commit suicide when she discovered that she was pregnant. It made me really appreciate how much birth control has changed the lives of women, before we really didn’t have much of a choice about how to live.
It was a book about struggle, a struggle to survive and a struggle to grow. I felt that Smedley’s writing reflected the life journey of her main character and that the style improved as the character grew up and matured. What was interesting was her move towards helping the Indians in their struggle for independence from the British. It was interesting to see an underground movement in America for a change. The rape and subsequent imprisonment of Marie was just terribly sad and hard to believe that this was 20th century America.
When reading Agnes Smedley’s report of life in China during the Second World War and the civil war, I was always amazed at what she was able to endure and how strongly she was able to sympathise with the suffering around her. Having read this book I think I start to realise that there really wasn’t that much of a difference between her lives. I also think I may have to give up my idea of her being a lesbian. She definitely seemed to have a few close women friends, but I find it hard to believe that she could have been as open as honest about her relationship with men, and her attitudes towards everything else, and not be able to admit any of that. But an incredible read. One I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in gender issues or women’s history....Continua