Wednesday, January 26, 2005

REVIEW: Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

I read this as part of a bookring started by SandDanz, it not being the type of book I'd usually pick up of my own accord. However, with SandDanz's recommendation, I decided to give it a whirl. Let me also preface this review by stating that my rating and review stems from my own personal preferences as opposed to how I believe it will be received by others.

The plot was fairly decent. I appreciated what Jane, the author, who's also the main character, was doing by coming out, placing her ad, and trying to get what she wants out of life, despite society's frowning on such behaviour. I applaud her courage and strength of self for such actions. However, much of the book also tells the story of her life leading up to her current age of 67, and I found it more difficult to empathize with this part of her life. Sure, it gave me a bit more appreciation for the kind of sexually repressed environment she was raised in, and the fact that she was able to overcome all that later in life. But times of sexual repression have always been a major sore spot for me. People who are afraid to talk about sex, express their sexuality, or even look at or touch their own bodies... well stuff like that just raises my hackles. I'd have never been able to live before the time of the sexual revolution, for I'd most certainly have been put down for sure, or hung up as the case may be. ;) Perhaps in a past life, I was a victim of some sort of sexual repression, and thus the need to be such a free-spirited, sexually-liberated woman now. The point I'm making is that because of all this, certain parts of her story made me angry, when it was clear at the time that that wasn't the author's intention, and because of all this, I felt more emotionally distanced from the main character during all these parts of the story. (I wonder if this will make sense to anyone reading this besides myself.)

In any case, I also disliked all the timeline jumping around she did, sometimes even within a single paragraph, and more often than not, multiple times in a single chapter. Often times, while reading of a particular event, I kept forgetting whether it was taking place while she was much younger, or closer to the present day, or even somewhere in between. A journal format, similar to the way Bridget Jones's Diary was written, would've probably worked better for this book, making the constant shifts between timelines easier to focus on.

Okay, now that I got the stuff I didn't like out of the way first, let me tell you what I did. I definitely appreciated the tales of Jane's more current adventures, after she placed the ad, and began to let go of all her hangups, misconceptions, and paranoia. I empathized more with this later-in-life Jane, and though she still had a hard time with certain things, she was starting to slough away all the bullshit that had been burned into her (brainwashed) all her life. I was happy that in the end, she finally seemed to let go of the last of her inhibitions and *gasp* even had sex with the light on! That last hurdle finally being overcome. Shouts of "Bravo!" and "You Go Girl!" immediately come to mind. :)

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