Review: ‘Big Women’ by Fay Weldon

Welcome back for another book review 🙂

I read this one a while ago, but I have some very strong opinions on it so I thought it was time for a review.

‘Big Women’ is about a collective of women who decide to create their own publishing company in the 1980s,  which publishes books by women, about women, trying to lead the women’s movement towards greater equality for all.

As well as focusing on the failures and triumphs of this collective, the book also centres on the women as individuals. The author considers their love lives and personal struggles as each character goes through her life, battling against a society which is ever-changing.

I really enjoyed this book because it gave an interesting spin on the radical women’s movement in the 1980s and 1990s, which I don’t know much about.

Although I thought the idea of a collective publishing house supporting women authors was a good one, that was where my admiration of the women in this book stopped.

Many of the characters in this book were not nice people. Right from the start, the less outspoken women were shouted down- and those who chose to support their families over the women’s movement were even exiled.

There was no female solidarity right from the start of this book, and the characters continually double crossed each other- sleeping with each other’s husbands and breaking up families with little regard for their fellow women.

I’m not sure if this book is a comment on how women feel as if they are pitted against one another, or simply a demonstration of the flaws of radical feminism.

For me, a central part of what feminism should be is letting a woman choose whatever path she wants, and this book, while set in the 1980s, reflected a lot of issues of exclusivity that we find in women’s movements today.

The women in this book- white, middle class, rich- represent an image which is still all too prominent in the feminist movement today.

While this book followed the changes of the 1980s, with record of exciting protests throughout this period and women taking change into their own hands- most of the characters in this book seemed bored, depressed, and lonely. Throughout the book, I was definitely left wanting more.

Overall, although this was an interesting read, the characters and general angry and misguided feminism of the period, made me infuriated. Some of the ways in which they acted towards others in society, as well as the women they supposedly represented, really made me question how much good they did.

I’d be interested to check out the TV series at some point, too!

Have you read this book? Have you read any of Fay Weldon’s other works? What do you think of this representation of radical feminism?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy reading 🙂

Picture credits here

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