The Awakening by Kate Chopin is the 7th book in my summer book project. This is the only book in my group of 10 that I had started to read previously and never finished. I must have been in my early 20's and I could not get into the book. I was surprised that The Awakening was never a required book in my school years. All of my friends had been required to read it, so I figured I should see what I was missing. I only got about 20 pages and then I stopped. I just couldn't get past the slow pace of this story. But now, being much older and with a different perspective, I found this book enjoyable this time around.
Written in 1899, the book was very controversial when it was first published. So much so, that the author never quite recovered from the scandal it caused. Reading the story in 2011, it seems almost comically conservative. The story surrounds Edna, who had been content to live her listless life with her husband and kids until she falls in love with another man. The pain and suffering this love caused her was worth it to her because she finally understood what it meant to be fully alive. That freedom of choice was so tempting, that she couldn't return to her past life where she only went through the motions of living.
This is a very small book and my version also contained many short stories in it. I was glad it was only 153 pages, because it is such a slow moving book. It reminded me a lot of Virginia Woolfe's, To the Lighthouse. I was also able to read it in only a few sittings. And while I did enjoy the book, it didn't move me greatly. I was ready to move on to book 8.
I love that not one word has been omitted. It's wild that this printing happened almost 100 years after the first printing. The cover painting "The Carnation" has always been a favorite of mine. I think that's the main reason I've kept this book on my shelf for so long.
Next book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand