More than a decade after the New York Times bestselling anthology The Bitch in the House spoke up loud and clear for a generation of young women, nine of the original contributors are back—along with sixteen captivating new voices—sharing their ruminations from an older, stronger, and wiser perspective about love, sex, work, family, independence, body-image, health, and aging: the critical flash points of women’s lives today.
“Born out of anger,” the essays in The Bitch in the House chronicled the face of womanhood at the beginning of a new millennium. Now those funny, smart, passionate contributors—today less bitter and resentful, and more confident, competent, and content—capture the spirit of postfeminism in this equally provocative, illuminating, and compelling companion anthology.
Having aged into their forties, fifties, and sixties, these “bitches”—bestselling authors, renowned journalists, and critically acclaimed novelists—are back . . . and better than ever. In The Bitch Is Back, Cathi Hanauer, Kate Christensen, Sarah Crichton, Debora Spar, Ann Hood, Veronica Chambers, and nineteen other women offer unique views on womanhood and feminism today. Some of the “original bitches” (OBs) revisit their earlier essays to reflect on their previous selves. All reveal how their lives have changed in the intervening years—whether they stayed coupled, left marriages, or had affairs; developed cancer or other physical challenges; coped with partners who strayed, died, or remained faithful; became full-time wage earners or homemakers; opened up their marriages; remained childless or became parents; or experienced other meaningful life transitions.
As a “new wave” of feminists begins to take center stage, this powerful, timely collection sheds a much-needed light on both past and present, offering understanding, compassion, and wisdom for modern women’s lives, all the while pointing toward the exciting possibilities of tomorrow.
Presented in a well-paced, episodic anthology style, these mini-memoirs from a number of different women (some writers, but not all) in their mid-thirties and up discussing such personal and broad range of topics, I was surprised to discover that I, quite honestly, found that my opinion on this book did not always waver in its favor.
Going back and forth between agreeing and understanding to a sense of disconnect in relatability, mainly on the basis of social-economic statuses, racial/ethnic background/up bringing differences and professional experience levels, which hindered any real ability to be 100% moved by this book as a whole.
There were a just a hand few essays and stories from this book that seemed to reflect small portions of the women I might be in ten, fifteen years from now, while others represented older mentors, friends and family members I’ve known throughout my life.
Likewise, on matters of new found independence, self-reflection and perspective shifts in regards to professions and family, the internal debates on body image and the juxtaposition some feminists believe it imposes, or the power and freedom that comes with open acceptance of female sexuality, I found to be the most relatable and interesting parts to read.
I also rather enjoyed the fact that this book offers so many different perspectives and voices and would have liked to have seen a stronger diversity balance in the mix of writers from this book. Mainly because for all the great topics and areas that are chiseled out among these pages from these 20+ women, as a twenty-six year old, single, childless—but the eldest-child, so-automatic-mother-hen-of-the-family—bisexual, African American, freelance writer with a Masters degree, I was not able to identify with any one story or writer directly.
So, while I did not find that I was entirely moved or entranced by all of the authors’ tales in this book, I did enjoy these in-depth snapshots into their lives.
Cathi Hanauer is the author of three novels—My Sister’s Bones, Sweet Ruin, and Gone—and is the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay collection The Bitch in the House. A former columnist for Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen, she has written for The New York Times, Elle, Self, Real Simple, and other magazines. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband, New York Times “Modern Love” editor Daniel Jones, and their daughter and son.
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