©1973, 2001 Erica Mann Jong; (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers
"Extraordinary....At once wildly funny and very wise." (Los Angeles Times)
"An amazing tour de force." (Cosmopolitan)
I very nearly gave up on this one. I'm a woman in my 30's. I have always considered myself a modern, liberated woman. I had a memory of this book on my (feminist) mother's bookshelf, and of being titillated by the racey cover. I had heard that it was a seminal feminist book. So, I finally decided I should fill in this gap in my literary repertoir and "read" it for myself.
However, as I listened I found I really despised the main character. I was completely unable to relate to her. My generation is very different from hers. I am happy in my marriage, my interpersonal relationships, and my self-image. I've never felt oppressed or smothered by anyone. This woman just seemed disgustingly whiney, neurotic, and childish.
I am stubborn, though. At first I kept myself going by telling myself how good it was to see how far we'd really come since then. I thought it was heading for all kinds of extreme endorsements-- live in communes, forsake all commitments, want nothing more from life than perpetual free sex and empty "freedom". I kept thinking, thank goodness the pendulum has swung back from that extreme into some sanity!
In the end though it didn't go where I feared it would. It more than redeemed itself, and I'm glad I stuck with it. It's about a woman finding her own identity, and while the details of path she took to get there ARE rather dated, the journey itself is as pertinent today as it ever was. It IS a wonderful insight into the dilemmas of being a woman, of the differences and conflicts between the sexes, and of what it means to really grow up and be a whole person.
About 10 years ago my kids gave me an Audible account for my birthday. It was the best birthday present ever!
I read this book about 20 years ago and wanted to re-read it now to see how it holds up with the passage of time. I really enjoyed it a lot. Hope Davis is great as the narrator. Really believable. I can still see why this book was considered "ground-breaking". Isadora's unembarrassed search for who she is still speaks to me and her open acceptance of her sexuality still seems pretty radical and brave. And not just because she talks openly about sex and uses a lot of "swear words". But because it really isn't about finding the right man, which she eventually figures out.
I notice the split between male and female readers in the list of reviews. I read a lot and am always curious about the female perspective. I read this book as a young man in the 70's, vaguely remembered enjoying it, and thought I would take another look at it from the distance of decades.
Now I think its appeal to me as a young man was the titillation of hearing a woman describe sex partners in frank, colorful ways. Isadore's conflict of adventure versus security is timeless, but the context of the narrative is so dated, and today we have so much more nuance in the discussion, that I was bored. The narrator's self-absorption, the step-by-step description of her passage through a crooked corridor of mirrors, seemed adolescent. The long side-passages that were unconcerned with pleasure, like describing how the narrator rediscovered her Jewish heritage while living in Germany, were glib and shallow to a mature reader.
Evem after "skimming" the audio, I just couldn't get through it.
Amazing. Like iris Murdoch but happier.
Narrarator was good but a tad too bubbly for me. I like hope Davis but she had a desperation in her voice which frustrated me. But I can't imagine another reader now
I couldn't stop listening to it - the authors insight
And experience were so real yet outrageous at times.
Wish I had read this one - think I'll have to re-read it now!
Whew! I can't believe I hung in there until the end. The main character is too darn neurotic - I wanted to throttle her.
Not my kind of book.
The interview with the author at the end of the story was interesting.
Jong's unflinching narrator finds her voice and her core through the course of this book. Many contemporary culture makers such as Lena Dunham owe a debt to this book.
Books? Movies. I would compare all of Woody Allen's movies and later Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture and Girls to Fear of Flying.
She carries the right outrage and coolness the book's narrator contains.
Handbook for Young Women: How to Avoid Distraction Through a Series of Questions
I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to read this. I hope it will provide her with iconography that she can identify necessary and sometimes painful transitions by. It is not theory, this conversational book, it is literature.
If you make it to the end, listen to the interview with Erica Jong. It reveals her lifelong support of women's voices.
Audible Member Since 2003
I purchased this book more out of curiosity than a desire to partake of good literature. In that vein I suppose I deserve what I got. I listened all the way to the end just to be sure I didn’t sell this loudly ballyhooed best seller short.
Just because a book is popular, doesn’t make it praise-worthy (except maybe to the agent and accountant of the author). Maybe I am missing something, because I really didn’t find much to cheer about in this book.
Could its popularity be explained because of the gratuitous use of the “f” and “c” words? Maybe in 1973 these words spewed from the lips of a woman was considered liberating? I am no prude and am not offended by this language insomuch as I was bored by it. Frankly, I found the main character, Isadora Wing, to be a shallow, self-centered, disillusioned and dissolute individual. I have a strong suspicion she was the fictional embodiment of the author, as is so often the case.
If you crave a story of a whiny young woman looking to “find herself” by sexing her way across Europe, you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for a great story, well written, you will be sorely disappointed.
The book was very well written. The narrator did an excellent job. At no point did her portrayals feel robotic or inauthentic. But the story itself is lackluster. It's nothing but the author complaining and whining for hundreds of pages. Nothing really happens. There are no interesting characters and there's nothing controversial about the sex. The narrator is an obvious feminist but her actions are in complete contrast. There's direction here. I could only make it to the halfway mark and I struggled to get that far.
No. In the 70's, this was a timely book.
When I read the book the first time, I was a twenty-something and was part of the women's liberation movement. For a woman to write about how women feel about sex and marriage was revolutionary. Today, this is not so shocking.
Isadora. In trying to find herself, and thinking she knew what she wanted, she discovered she didn't. It would be fun to have a sequel and---just read that Erica Jong is actually playing around with the the concept of a book about grown-up Isadora. I'll be eager to see who she is as an adult. Hope Jong publishes a book.
Maybe. It's written in journal like form with explicit content. It was the "Fifty Shades" book of the seventies. The actual journey of discovery was interesting, but I thought the plot was a little thin. They might have to take some literary license and beef it up.
I loved the narration by Hope Davis it made the book come perfectly alive. I loved the way she did the British and French accents (her German was a bit off). It was like listening to someone talking to you.
I enjoyed getting an insight into the mindset of a woman growing up in the 50-60s and being fully emancipated. I did constantly have to remind myself of the period the story takes place. Amazing how progressive in tought and subject matter Fear of Flying must have been when it was first published. Today, after Sex and the City and 50 Shades of Gray, we are used to women being so outspoken about such topics. No way was that so in the 70s!Self-analysis was a bit annoying at times. I kept thinking whether I was so naive and clueless when I was 27. But then again, I had to remind myself of when Izadora grew up and how analysis was the answer to everything at that time.
Izadora! Her attitude and internal monologues and dialogues cracked me up
Don't try to judge the book according to 21st Century standards and background because you will have a completely different experience.
This made me laugh out loud at lots of points. I did have to turn down the volume when playing the book through my speakers with the kitchen door wide open....there's a fair bit of use of the c word which would probably offend the neighbours!
I'm glad I've finally 'read' the book after it was constantly referred to in (my Mum's) copies of Cosmopolitan in the '80s!
Great story, so valid despite being written nearly 50 years ago. Recommended for everyone. Interesting insight into feminist literature and female issues.
"Timeless classic? not for me"
Finally got round to this book and I can imagine it was a bit of a shock at the time. We are used to sex in books now though and I found Isadoras rather aimless voyage of self discovery merely tiresome. Life may not have a plot but novels really ought to.
Excellent narration and production.
Full of quality, humour and the spirit of the 70s - I definitely recommend it to all the young women out there.
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