This collection includes 30 stories, ranging from four to seven pages. Each satirical selection varies in tone from whimsical to humorous to provocative. Every title starts with "The Woman Who…," such as "The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck" to "The Woman Who Had a Strong Suit." The unnamed women face their challenges and relatable dilemmas. In "The Woman Who Blew Away," the risks of excessive dependence on social media are highlighted. In another story, a tongue-tied heroine relates her fear of public speaking. An older woman desperately fears invisibility in "The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared." Some stories are surprisingly realistic; others are allegorical fables or surreal futuristic statements. Although not each piece is entirely successful, Ahern (PS, I Love You; Love, Rosie) offers many that clearly hit home. Readers get to experience and inhabit these situations through these feminist sketches. VERDICT Bold, imaginative, eclectic sketches feature women at the crossroads. Their resilience when faced with hardship and their methods of overcoming obstacles help to create a thoroughly challenging, pertinent, and ultimately uplifting read.—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA
Ahern’s fantastic collection features stories of unnamed women facing modern life and its attendant difficulties, each told with fablesque twists. In “The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged Her Husband,” men are literally on the market, able to be bought, returned, and exchanged. In “The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf,” a woman spends half her life sitting on a shelf her beloved husband builds for her next to his other trophies. And in “The Woman Who Was Swallowed Up by the Floor and Who Met Lots of Other Women Down There Too,” a woman mortified while giving a presentation is literally swallowed up by the floor, falling into a black hole where other embarrassed women are working up the courage to climb back. Ahern’s women are by turns insecure and ambitious, quiet and challenging, as they struggle with careers, marriages, parenting, and social structures beyond their control. Ahern (P.S., I Love You) blends magical realism with keen observations about contemporary gender dynamics, offering readers a sharp selection of nuanced parables encouraging bravery, compassion, and self-reliance. (Apr.)
is a wild and daring collection. The stories are ingenious and surreal, brilliantly and hilariously articulating what it means to be a woman today. Cecelia Ahern has crafted something of a revolution within these pages. A powerful must-read."Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six
"These provocative and witty stories prove it's time to recognize
Cecelia Ahern as one of our finest writers."John Boyne, New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
"An empowering book for women, Cecelia Ahern uses wildly inventive stories to reveal a simple truth - the power to create the life we want to live has been inside each of us all along. The world Ahern creates on these pages is fantastic yet authentic. Every woman will recognize herself in these stories and be inspired by them."Jennifer Palmieri, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Madam President
"Curiously delightful...each story resonate[s] as simultaneously personal and universal...A sharp, breathtaking collection."Kirkus Reviews
"Fantastic...Ahern (P.S., I Love You) blends magical realism with keen observations about contemporary gender dynamics, offering readers a sharp selection of nuanced parables encouraging bravery, compassion, and self-reliance."Publishers Weekly
"This collection includes 30 stories, ranging from four to seven pages. Each satirical selection varies in tone from whimsical to humorous to provocative...Some stories are surprisingly realistic; others are allegorical fables or surreal futuristic statements...Bold, imaginative, eclectic sketches feature women at the crossroads. Their resilience when faced with hardship and their methods of overcoming obstacles help to create a thoroughly challenging, pertinent, and ultimately uplifting read."Library Journal
"Ahern's previous work, including PS, I Love You, There's No Place Like Here and The Gift are funny, light and often wise but didn't entirely presage "Roar," which is funny, wise and weighty - in a very good way. After all, when you write 30 stories about the dilemmas of people who hold up half the world's sky, things are bound to get heavy. The women in these fables cope with discrimination, loneliness and abandonment, among other things . . . It's best to read just one or two of Ahern's fables at a time. That way you can truly appreciate their wit, pathos and imagination. The author includes Helen Reddy's famous lyric 'I am woman, hear me roar' as an epigraph, but she might just as easily have used 'I'm every woman. It's all in me.'"
Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
As they near 60, smart, savvy women become increasingly invisible in our ageist society. Who can diagnose, much less fix, maladies of a sociocultural nature?
Acutely attuned to the subtle sexism, ageism, racism, and every other -ism constricting women's live, Ahern (Perfect, 2017, etc.) returns with a collection of curiously delightful fables imagining what would happen if the emotional trials of women's lives manifested in reality. Each tale's protagonist is simply named "the woman," letting each story resonate as simultaneously personal and universal. With echoes of Kafka's Metamorphosis and Sexton's Transformations, Ahern lets each of her protagonists physically manifest the tribulation that social, cultural, and familial expectations have pushed her to internalize. A woman who has escaped a war zone only to face relentless discrimination, particularly from the wealthy tennis moms at her children's school, grows gorgeous wings. A young mother of three, struggling to balance the demands of children, husband, and work, suddenly finds herself covered in inexplicable bite marks, as if she were being eaten alive by her never-quite-fulfilled responsibilities. In a fantastic world in which women can buy, return, and exchange husbands, one empty nester faces the difficult decision of whether to accept her flawed husband and their imperfect love. In a dystopian work in which gender roles are enforced through a police state, one woman strives to make a difference for her child, who may not easily fit in such a binary world. And in "The Woman Who Roared," multiple women, from multiple walks of life, all roar back at a stifling world, channeling their inner Helen Reddys, who, of course, announced, "I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore."
A sharp, breathtaking collection of fables.