Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.
My Thoughts: From the moment I began reading The Female Persuasion, I was swept back in time. To coming-of-age moments; to growing up female in a time of misogyny; to the first stirrings of female empowerment in the Second Wave Feminist movement in the 1970s; and then to the rise of the “Me-Too” movement in the present-day world of chaos…all of these moments in our lives as females could trigger that “click” we all have heard at one time or another. A recognition of the unfairness of it all. A knowledge that the war is not over. Battles have been won along the way, but we have not won the war.
The characters who so eloquently illustrated these moments and reminded me of my own were like real-life people. Greer, with her shy voice, who learned to use her “outside voice,” would struggle, would find her mentor along the way in Faith Frank, a woman who could have been a slightly younger version of Gloria Steinem, and would stand up and ultimately shout out in her own louder voice. A college case of sexual harassment would start Greer on her journey, and even as she struggled along the way, she kept picking herself up and continuing to use her voice.
The story took us back and forth in time, from Faith’s beginnings as a young woman to Greer in her thirties, finally using her voice for good despite whatever challenges she faced.
Near the end of the book, we find this section that illustrates the journey, as the characters celebrate Greer’s novel: “One full year that seemed to put a thumb in the eye of the big terribleness (referring to the return of sexual harassment in a big and noticeable way). The book, certainly not the first of its kind, was a lively and positive-leaning manifesto encouraging women not to be afraid to speak up…”
By the final page, I wanted the story to continue. I wanted to shout out at the victories, but often felt discouraged by all that remained the same. Definitely a 5 star read for me.