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A Life of One's Own

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474621243

Price: £10.99

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‘A beautiful, deeply philosophical book about reading as a form of existential consolation’ Literary Review
‘Acute and tender . . . alive with discovery and desire’ Observer
‘A meditation, by turns glorious and aching, on what it means to be a woman and to try to be free’ Amia Srinivasan
‘A gift to readers of all ages. Engaging . . . poignant . . . uplifting’ Washington Post
‘I adored this book . . . a generous, enlivening work, destined to be passed from friend to friend for a long time to come’ Megan Hunter

In this intricate, intimate and dazzlingly original group biography, Joanna Biggs looks to eight revolutionary women writers who each sought freedom and intellectual fulfilment in their lifetimes and asks: why is it so important for women to read one another? By illuminating the motivations, desires and disappointments of Mary Wollstonecraft, George Eliot, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison and Elena Ferrante, Biggs lights a way past the traditional goals and expectations of femininity and towards a life lived generously and joyfully for oneself.

Reviews

A powerful collective portrait of women writers who are often only studied via their isolated exceptionalism . . . An enlightening meditation on the intersections of art and freedom
KIRKUS
Book lovers will swoon over this smart meditation on life and writing
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
Acute and tender . . . alive with discovery and desire
Hephzibah Anderson, OBSERVER
Joanna Biggs is an unmissable writer. She gives new scope and fresh meaning to the idea of literary empathy
ANDREW O'HAGAN, author of MAYFLIES
Such beautiful, meaningful writing on the pursuit of beauty and meaning. It's the book equivalent of sinking into a hot bath after a difficult day
EMMA FORREST, author of BUSY BEING FREE
Written with profound sensitivity and a singular eye for detail, A Life of One's Own is engrossing, surprising and moving reading for anyone interested in what it means to write, and to live
LAUREN OYLER, author of FAKE ACCOUNTS
By laying down the conventional tools of contemporary criticism, that arsenal of theories and various lenses (Marxist, feminist, Lacanian etc.), Biggs meets us on equal terms, as a fellow reader - a quietly defiant act. If personal criticism like A Life of One's Own succeeds in returning the craft to its original purpose, and thus to a larger audience, then it is very welcome
Charlotte Stroud, ENGELSBERG IDEAS
[An] absorbing, eccentric book. Alongside Biggs's search for a way to be a woman apart from being a wife is her search for a way to be a writer apart from being a critic. On the evidence of A Life of One's Own, she has found it
Lauren Michele Jackson, NEW YORKER
In this trenchant and wide-ranging book, Biggs writes about starting over after divorce while seeking wisdom from a canon of great female authors. In Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, George Eliot, Simone de Beauvoir, Elena Ferrante and others, Biggs finds inspiration, advice and cautionary tales that shade her experience
NEW YORK TIMES (19 Works of Nonfiction to Read This Spring)
A beautiful, deeply philosophical book about reading as a form of existential consolation . . . wonderfully inconclusive, moving and original . . . a brilliant exploration of uncertainty and a compelling anti-guide to art and life
Joanna Kavenna, LITERARY REVIEW
I adored this book. I started turning down pages to note favourite parts, then found myself turning down almost every other page. It's such a generous, enlivening work, destined to be passed from friend to friend for a long time to come
MEGAN HUNTER, author of THE END WE START FROM
[Biggs] explores how exceptional writers of the past might guide today's women in charting a path after life-altering events. The result is a moving biblio-memoir that's a gift to readers of all ages. Engaging . . . poignant . . . uplifting
Devoney Looser, WASHINGTON POST
Joanna Biggs is one of our sharpest critics and wisest interrogators of how to live. This is a deeply moving and invigorating book
FRANCESCA WADE, author of SQUARE HAUNTING
A meditation, by turns glorious and aching, on what it means to be a woman and to try to be free
AMIA SRINIVASAN, author of THE RIGHT TO SEX
To make sense of and find a shape to one's life within the context of one's literary predecessors is the project of Biggs's brilliant book, which combines incisive biographies with a personal story of starting over. This book reframed my own life in the most startling and revealing ways, illuminating complicated desires and lifelong debates via the absorbing stories of nine women authors who I now consider sisters, teachers, kin. A deeply moving meditation on reading and writing, friendship, desire, the life of the mind, and the woman writer's perennial yearning to be free
RACHEL YODER, author of NIGHTBITCH

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