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December 12, 2022 66 min

The Awakening is an American classic, first published in 1899. The novel’s focus is the inner life of Edna Pontellier, a 29 year-old a married woman and mother of two boys, whose husband Léonce is a New Orleans businessman of Louisiana Creole heritage. The book’s notoriety derives from Edna’s refusal to accept the role that American society of the late 19th century has allocated to her. After the controversy that greeted it on publication, The Awakening sank from view until it was rediscovered by a new generation of readers after the Louisiana State University Press published Chopin’s collected works in 1969. Now acclaimed as a feminist classic – it was published in the UK in 1978 by The Women’s Press and is now both a Penguin and an Oxford classic, a Canongate Canon, and one of the most popular university set texts in America. We’re joined by the Irish American writer Timothy O’Grady and publisher Rachael Kerr to find out why. This episode also finds Andy revelling in Beware of the Bull, a new biography of the incomparable Yorkshire singer-songwriter Jake Thackray (Scratching Shed), while John enjoys Louise Willder’s Blurb Your Enthusiasm, the product of her twenty-five years as a copywriter at Penguin.

Timings may vary as a result of adverts:

04:57 Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder

11:00 Beware of the Bull: The Enigmatic Genius of Jake Thackray by Paul Thompson and John Watterson

18:59 The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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