The level of truth in A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux is so deep that I am not even willing to cop to some of the passages that most resonated with me. That is a testament to memoir if there ever was one.
I finished the book today and when I read the last word on page 192 I almost wept. Had I not been sitting outside at Starbucks, I might have. The difference in the book’s energy, in the energy of Ernaux, from the first to the second half is so striking. Her phenomenally independent spirit gives way to reluctant traditionalism and it just cut me to my core.
Bless her scathing truth. I’ve never read anything like it. One minute she is “weeping with perplexity” at all the possibilities before her in college, the next she sees her former goals “becoming strangely blurred” in marriage despite choosing a man who appreciates her intellect. She writes, “Ever since the beginning of the marriage I’ve had the impression of chasing after an equality that continually eludes me.”
The book was published in 1981, but right here, right now, I am profoundly affected.