*1001 Books Book
Chopin, K., & O’Karma, A. (1987). The awakening. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.
When perusing the audio bookshelf at my library, I saw The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Remembering comparisons to Flaubert’s Madame Bovery, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and part of Lahiri’s The Namesake, I readily grabbed the audiobook. With the soft-spoken narration of Alexandra O’Karma, I soon enjoyed The Awakening.
The Awakening begins in late nineteenth century Grand Isle, Louisiana, a resort for the New Orleans “who’s who.” The lovely and intelligent wife and mother of two, Edna Pontillier focuses intently on her conversation with Robert Lebrun. Edna’s husband, Léonce, looks upon her as a cherished possession and so Edna basks in the attentions Robert, the grown son of the owner of the Grand Isle resort. Growing up in a Protestant home and converting to Catholicism in order to marry Léonce, Edna is much the outsider. No matter how much she spends time with friend Adèle Ratignolle, Edna’s disconnect and discontent pushes her into a metamorphosis or awakening all of her own. Once Edna rises from this deep slumber that has been her life, she strives to capture personal happiness in late nineteenth century New Orleans.
I liked many aspects of this book. Chopin captures the life of Edna Pontellier so well. Additionally, both heroine and writer are women. Where Flaubert and Tolstoy felt sympathetic towards their respective heroines, Chopin portrays more empathy for Edna Pontillier. Also, Chopin’s characters clearly stood out in my mind.
I did not like the resolution of the story, though. What happens in the end is quite debatable and I will leave it for future readers to interpret. Does Edna Pontillier triumph? Let me know what you think. . .
Four out of Five Pearls Places: Grand Isle, LA; New Orleans, LA, Kentucky
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