Ella Price's Journal: A Novel

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Feminist Press at CUNY, 1972 - Fiction - 265 pages
2 Reviews
A pioneer novel of women's consciousness-raising, this quietly powerful narrative traces the journey of a women rebeliing, searching, and gradually coming to know herself, for the first time in her life, at the age of thirty-five.

   The novel begins on the first day of class at a Bay Area community college, and unfolds as a series of entries in the diary the title character has been instructed to keep as an assignment for her English class. Ella Price is a suburban housewife with a reliable, good-natured husband, a teenaged daughter, and a typical working-class life. Yet she is plagued by fears she cannot name; by a sense of being somehow a "freak" in her comfortable, predictable world; and by a gnawing discontent. For her, deciding to begin college at the age of thirty-five is an act of defiance and courage; for her husband, it is a whim to be temporarily indulged.

   But Ella's exposure to a new world of books and ideas-and to the self-revelatory process of journal writing-has consequences that even she could not have imagined.  As her growing consciousness begins to shake the foundations of her life, she becomes for the first time engaged in the political tumult of the 1960s-and also in a passionate, doomed affair with her married English professor. She tries to seek refuge in the security of her home, where her husband is ready to "take care of her" agian. But eventually she must come to the realization that she is irrevocably changed-and that to be true to herself, she must make painful choices.

   First published in 1972, Ella Price's Journal is a seminal novel of its time-an exquisite and deeply authentic literary rendering of a woman's struggle to give voice to what Betty Friedan in the Feminine Mystique called :the problem that has no name." Described as The Women's Room of the working class and as The Awakening for the 20th century, Ella Price's Journal inspired 200 letter of response when it was serialized in Redbook, including many from women who wrote that they felt, for the first time, that their lives had been reflected in a work of literature.

   Dorothy Bryant's compassionate depiction of the conflicts women face-between security and freedom, between attachment and independence, and between the dull comforts of conformity and the frightening challenges of forging a self-determined identity-will bring no less of a shock of recognition today. A moving and unique version of the traditional bildungsroman, Ella Price's Journal affirms the possibility of growth toward a richly intense and authentic life at any age.


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Ella Price's Journal: A Novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

These two books by Bryant share similar themes: Ella Price's Journal (1972) and Miss Giardino (1978) both tell stories of women whose fates are changed by education late in their lives. Read full review

Review: Ella Price's Journal

User Review  - Mary Ann - Goodreads

I read this book in college and loved it--a coming-of-age story about a housewife who becomes politically and socially aware through the act of keeping a journal for a class that she takes. Read full review

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About the author (1972)

Dorothy Bryant draws on her family history in Montana, on her lifetime of living and writing in the Bay Area, and on meticulously researched history. With characteristic irony, compassion and honesty, she weaves these elements into another of her unrelenting accounts of good intentions, high hopes, mixed motives, unpredictable consequences, and lessons learned or denied.

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