Book Review: Woman on the Edge of Time
Posted by Dianna Gunn
On my trip out of town I finished the book I’ve been reading for most of the summer, Woman on the Edge of Time. It’s an old book but you can still find it on Amazon if you follow this link.
The back cover reads:
Woman on the Edge of time is the fascinating story of Connie Ramos, a Chicana woman in her mid-thirties, living in New York and labeled insane, committed to a mental institution. But the truth is that Connie is overwhelmingly sane, heroically sane, and tuned into the future.
Connie is able to communicate with the year 2137. Two totally different ways of life are competing. One is beautiful-communal, nonsexist, environmentally pure, open to ritual and magic. The other is a horror-totalitarian, exploitative, rigidly technological.
In Connie’s struggle to keep the institution’s doctors from forcing her into a brain control operation, we find the timeless struggle between beauty and terror, between good and evil… with an astonishing outcome.
As a Reader:
My history teacher recommended this book during my African History class (which should be called a history of Africans and the Americas or something similar, actually). We were discussing utopia and I said I believed it impossible to please everyone. He showed me this book and told me to take a look at it and the utopian future in it.
I did and all I can say is wow. Connie’s honest narration is clear, concise, and simultaneously brutal and loving. The language isn’t exactly pretty, and Connie could surely make a sailor blush, but it’s real. It’s true to her existance-a woman whose grown up all her life in different ghettoes and who lost her only chance to escape them several years before the story. Connie is a good woman who isn’t really crazy with anything except love for her family. And she’s a woman who’s been beaten down by society her entire life, for being poor and being brown and being a woman.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so connected to a character, or lived in anyone else’s head the way I lived in hers. Though my life has been-and hopefully will be-much easier than hers, I felt her pain with her, and I understood it. I felt how she felt when they called her crazy. When she got angry at her niece’s pimp, I was angry with her. When she mourned her lost loves, I mourned with her. When she played the doctors’ game to get out of the mental institution, I could have played that game side by side with her.
The future to which she travels is amazing, beautiful, pure. As she was amazed first by the stranger from the future, I was amazed. As she decoded the common language of the future, I decoded it with her. As she stared in awe at everything around her and asked her questions, I asked all the same questions and held all the same amazement. I felt I made the same friends she did. When one of the characters died I almost broke down right along with them.
Long story short-though it’s a bit late for that-this book is fantastic. I recommend it to everyone, reader, writer, and most of all to every woman.
As a Writer
As a writer I would like to take my hat off and bow my head to the author of this book, Marge Piercy. As I think about it there’s nothing I would have changed.
The voice of the narrative is real, the characters are real, and the story of Connie’s present is heartbreakingly true. My favourite line in the entire novel is an intense spoiler, but let’s just say there were quite a few times when I had to put the book down and take a few deep breaths.
The ending left something to be desired, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I closed the book unsure if I was satisfied. Despite that, I do appreciate the ending and I think that it was very classy. As a writer I’m absolutely stunned by what this writer has accomplished. It’s been a long time since a book touched my heart like this one has.
I recommend this book absolutely and completely to anyone, especially women of all ages, backgrounds, and colours.
You can buy it on Amazon here.