Book Burning


If you’ve ever fantasized about throwing up your hands … don’t. They can be real page turners.

But really now.

If you’ve ever fantasized about throwing up your hands, leaving everything behind, and taking up painting in a seaside cottage, this read will have you glued to its pages. Welcome to Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

The Awakening tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a young Creole wife and mother who has long suppressed disappointment with her passionless life and stern patriarchal husband. Edna’s life is passive, receptive, and propelled by social pressure—not uncommon for a Southern woman in the late 1800s.

Edna begins to awaken to a more vital, self-directed life. Once she’s tasted this new awareness, there’s no going back. But going against the grain and casting off her obligations comes at a price; Edna realizes that drastic measures may be necessary to give her life a course correction.

The Awakening was (gasp!) a banned book. By today’s standards, you’d be hard-pressed to figure out why. But at the time (1899), the story of a woman questioning her marriage, family, and place in the world and gravitating toward art was more shocking then than it would be now. Condemnation and vitriol forced Chopin into financial crisis and literary obscurity. It’s only now, over a century after her death in 1904, that Kate Chopin is appreciated as a visionary author, and The Awakening as a peephole into a world that few authors explored at that time.

Teaser: Whomever finds the word REMONSTRATE in The Awakening (found in here in Gleaming Word-a-Week) and can tell me the page number will get an adorable hand-crocheted hankie in the mail.

  1. Amy says:

    I read The Awakening in high school. Wow, that seems like a long time ago! I believe the word remonstrate can be found on page 22 of the book 🙂

    • Jane says:

      Page 22 it is! “She could not but believe it to be thoughtlessness on his part, yet that was no reason she should submit to it. She did not remonstrate, except again to repulse him quietly but firmly. He offered no apology.”

      TEASER: Also from The Awakening, page 118:
      “Outside, away from the glow of the fire and the soft lamplight, the night was chill and murky. The Doctor doubled his old-fashioned cloak across his breast as he strode home through the darkness. He knew his fellow creatures better than most men, knew that inner life which so seldom unfolds itself to unanointed eyes. He was sorry he had accepted Pontellier’s invitation. He was growing old, and beginning to need rest and an unperturbed spirit. He did not want the secrets of other lives thrust upon him.”

      Hankie on its way, my dear! (Please send your address to

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