Book review: Herland

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Published by Dover Thrift Editions

Synopsis: When three American men discover a community of women, living in perfect isolation in the Amazon, they decide there simply must be men somewhere. How could these women survive without man's knowledge, experience and strength, not to mention reproductive power? In fact, what they have found is a civilisation free from disease, poverty and the weight of tradition. All alone, the women have created a society of calm and prosperity, a feminist utopia that dares to threaten the very concept of male superiority.

How did this book end up in my hands? A friend of mine had recommended it to me as a ‘must read’ for any self-respecting feminist and I followed her advice.

Was it a page-turner? Not for me. I found myself wanting to pick up the book purely because I hoped that the interesting part might be just around the page!
Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? Not entirely. The synopsis is accurate but I was expecting more from this book.
Did I like the ending? The ending was fine in an overall disappointing book.
Did the book leave me with unanswered questions? A great many questions! I would have liked to know more about how such a society could work and about the relationship among the women.
Three words to describe it. Slow. Disappointing. Repetitive.
Do I like the cover? Yes, I think it is a rather clever cover.
Have I read any other books by the same author? No.
Will I want to read other books by the same author? Yes, possibly.
Will I be recommending this book? To selected people, yes. Despite the slowness and the flaws I’ve perceived, it is nonetheless an interesting read for people interested in utopias and feminism.


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