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About the Book


Just as the light of the early feminist movement breaks bright over the horizon, her alcoholic husband leaves her. For this woman, now a single mother and an aspiring writer, feminism's message of a woman's strength and independence resonates deeply encouraging her to follow her dreams. But this is not where her story ends. The woman is happy to be able to pursue a career as a writer, but she is far more fulfilled by her life as a mother. Trapped in a paradox, she must part ways with other feminists, who label her unambitious-unfeminist-because she makes her children a priority. Scorned by mainstream society for her literary aspirations, shunned by feminists for devoting herself to her family, this woman must face the road ahead alone. So reads the story of Anne Roiphe's life-but it could be the story of any one of countless women who have felt left out of the women's movement for wanting to be wives and mothers. Now Roiphe finally gives voice to these longings and conflicting desires.

Fruitful--nominated for a National Book Award- looks at motherhood in all its profound complexity, with language that is both forceful and poetic. Roiphe tells the intimate, compelling story of raising her children and stepchildren in the gray area between the cult of motherhood and radical feminism. With heartbreaking candor, she details the difficult adaptations and painful rebellions that can haunt a parent's conscience. Filled with fierce pride in her family's accomplishments, Roiphe also shares her disappointments and worries, bravely discussing her eldest daughter's drug addiction and infection with HIV.

At the same time, Fruitful offers an intelligent examination of the limitations of contemporary feminism. Roiphe understands the reluctance that many women feel in identifying themselves as feminists-strong, independent, women who say, "I'm not a feminist, but..."

Unafraid to enter deeply into the many contradictory issues feminism raises, Roiphe freely admits her own ambivalence and confusion; yet, she also offers concrete, imaginative ideas about how to get past rage and finger-pointing in order to create a society that honors and encourages whatever choices women may make about their lives, particularly the choice to raise strong and secure children.

Frank, informative, intimate, and filled with wit, Fruitful offers a hopeful message-without slogans or easy answers-for every woman who has felt torn between her own ambitions and the needs of her family.

by Anne Roiphe

  • Publication Date: October 1, 1997
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0140266720
  • ISBN-13: 9780140266726