Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Negotiating Identities in Women's Lives: English Postcolonial and Contemporary British Novels

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Negotiating Identities in Women's Lives: English Postcolonial and Contemporary British Novels

Article excerpt

Christine Wick Sizemore, Negotiating Identities in Women's Lives: English Postcolonial and Contemporary British Novels (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), x + 190pp. Cloth. £51.95. ISBN 0-313-32163-9.

Christine Wick Sizemore considers novels by Margaret Atwood, Keri Hulme, Anita Desai, Margaret Drabble, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing and others to explore women's identities as narratives 'written from a place of hybridity, from the interstices of culture', and presents a convincing case.

She examines women's identities in girlhood; women as sexual, cultural, social and political beings; in terms of nationality; and in the face of death. Within each of her chapters, she presents the identities she discusses through a series of searches: The Search for Adulthood . . . Intimacy . . . Place . . . Space . . . Integrity . . . and for a Legacy, and does so by ranging across several continents. The Zimbabwe of Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions and the Canada of Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye are examined in the discussion of girlhood identities. The New Zealand of Keri Hulme's The Bone People and the postcolonial India of Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day are among the backdrops for the examination of women's sexual and national identities. The post-apartheid South Africa of Nadine Gordimer's None to Accompany Me is paired with the Thatcherite Britain of Margaret Drabble's The Radiant Way for an exploration of social and political identities. Women's cultural identities within the African American and Martinique settings chosen by Paule Marshall in Praisesong for the Widow are set beside the white settler culture of Australia and a mythical English Camelot unpicked in Jessica Anderson's Tirra Lirra by the River. …

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