By Kate Chopin
“She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before.”
This short but impassioned novel, first published at the turn of the 19th century, portrays a new way of thinking; a dissension among the women of North America and Europe, which caused excitement and consternation in equal measures.
Kate Chopin’s clever, lyrical story, set on the Louisiana Gulf coast and in New Orleans, draws on the lives of the Franco-Creole beau monde, using their apparently sparkling lives as a backdrop to highlight the strict social conventions of the day.
The young Edna Pontellier, an attractive, seemingly happily married woman, dreams of putting her needs before those of her husband and children. She is far from contented with her cosseted but strictly controlled existence, and becomes wilful and defiant. Her subsequent behaviour is considered unacceptable and unwomanly in such a patriarchal society.
Chopin is a magnificent storyteller. Her frank portrayal underscores the very real frustrations experienced by her contemporaries and vividly depicts the tremendous courage required for a woman to slip her shackles.