THE WOMAN DESTROYED by Simone de Beauvoir

DAMN this book is so good…

The Woman Destroyed is a collection of three short stories. Each one is about a woman struggling to cope with love, loss, and age. The first is about a woman who is disappointed in her son for being all about the money (and at her husband for understanding him). The next one is a woman on New Years Eve raging all night about how wildly lonely she is after her husband left with the kid (her other child died). The last story is written as a series of journal entries by a woman whose husband is leaving her (for someone else).

The writing itself is amazing. These aren’t quick tales. Simone De Beauvoir takes her time building everything up and out. She gets deep into these women’s feelings and obsessions. Did I ruin my kid’s life? Did I ruin my life? Did this guy really just betray me like that? How could this happen? The answers are frustrating. It’s like each narrator is sad as hell but at least they get to be explained here like this. There’s something validating about documenting something so well.

The last story (about the woman being left by her husband in her 40’s) questions tho what writing it down even does. The narrator is like:

For a fortnight I have written nothing in this notebook because I read over what I had written before. And I saw that words say nothing. Rages, nightmares, horror–words cannot encompass them. I set thing down on paper when I recovered strength, either in despair or in hope. But the feeling of total bewilderment, of stunned stupidity, of falling apart–these pages do not contain them. And then these pages lie so–they get things so wrong. How I have been manipulated!

(“The Woman Destroyed” 223)

That’s part of why the diary-style is so perfect for nature of the story. She pops in to vent, and you get consistent updates. But like she says, what’s written depends on when you had a moment to write. A paragraph here, a couple pages here. A day or two in between. Missing dates and times. Journaling is all about finding the opportunity to write in the middle of life’s happenings.

And as far as heartbreak goes, Simone de Beauvoir just gets it. Asking “had he loved me as I loved him?” (“The Age of Discretion”). Complaining “he doesn’t give a fuck. Here I am torn to pieces by heartbreaking memories I call him and he doesn’t answer” (“The Monologue” 103). Her prose are clean and true.

-Rachel Wagner


My blogs:
–  Girtalk
–  Read or Die

My books: 
– Jacob’s Hip: Poems
– FEM: New Millennium Beauty & Fashion
– Abandonment Issues: Alive in New Jersey
– Back Like I Never Left: Dating as a Single Mother

My bookstore: Ten Dollar Books

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