Feminist Friday: A Woman

Dear Reader,

Today sees my tenth Feminist Friday post! For those of you who are new, each month I select a book to read that fits my own feminist criteria, which I then share with you on the second Friday of the month. For me, the books I choose must embody female strength of character and be inspirational to read. I try to explore work from a wide variety of genres, reading anything from classics and memoirs to fiction and poetry. So without further ado, here is my choice for October: A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo…

A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo

This month the book kind of chose me… I was unpacking the delivery at work when the unusual cover caught my eye. Described on the back by La Republica as ‘The first Italian feminist novel’, I was instantly curious and promptly bought it before it reached the shelf!

A Woman is an autobiographical novel. It reads in compelling and heartfelt prose, by a nameless narrator. The story accounts the journey from a childhood of aspiration and intellectual freedom to a suffocating and brutal marriage. First published in 1906, A Woman was remarkably ahead of it’s time. Both incredibly perceptive and honest, it left nowhere to hide. Married young, and to her childhood rapist, with no family support, the narrator takes us through her survival and the effect of her overwhelming love for her child. She is also acutely observational of the repeating patterns and motifs in parenting, passed down from generation to generation, each one affecting the next, and talks of ways to break the cycle. Through all this she also highlights the plight of women at the dawn of the 20th Century Italy, and her observations on faith, socialism and education offer an insight into the mind of a truly courageous woman.

To love, to sacrifice oneself, and to submit! Was this what all women were destined for?

Sibilla Aleramo, ‘A Woman’, 1906.

So powerful and utterly heart wrenching, I was moved to tears. For someone in a living hell she was so full of empathy and understanding. Her ability to recognise the pain of others through her own suffering was incredible. Despite her constant questioning of the world around her and the dark side of life, humanity and human suffering, it is this ability to question, this curiosity about life itself that ultimately keeps her alive…

Sibilla Aleramo is the pen name of Marta Felicina Faccio
(1876-1960).

Her discovery of self respect and of personal growth, control of her own decisions and discovery of steely confidence, as well as the strength to do what she loved – write – showed through in her choice of words as the novel unfolded to both a tragic and liberating climax. Thought provoking and deeply philosophical, with brave observations on the power of books, reading and learning to grant mental freedom, understanding and escape.

To say I enjoyed the book seems an inappropriate expression for the context. However, I was blown away by her incredible prose, and also her courage to stand up and share her experiences and ask if this is how humanity should be treated.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve read this book or have been inspired to read it or any other of my Feminist Friday choices.

See you next time 🙂

Meg Readz xx

4 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: A Woman

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