For Claire Lacombe and Pauline Leon, two poor women of eighteenth-century France, the lofty ideals of the coming revolution could not seem more abstract. But when Claire sees the gaping disparity between the poverty she has known and the lavish lives of aristocrats as her theater group performs in their homes, and Pauline witnesses the execution of local bread riot leaders, both are driven to join the uprising. They, along with upper-class women like Madame Manon Roland, who ghostwrites speeches for her politician husband and runs a Parisian salon where revolutionaries gather, will play critical roles in the French people’s bloody battle for liberty and equality.
Author Marge Piercy’s thrilling and scrupulously researched fictionalized account of these real women’s lives shines with emotional depth and strikingly animated action. By interweaving their tales with the exploits of men whose names have become synonymous with the revolution, like Robespierre and Danton, Piercy reveals how the contributions of these courageous women may be lesser known, but no less important. Rich in detail and broad in scope, City of Darkness, City of Light is a riveting portrayal of an extraordinary era and the women who helped shape an important chapter in history.
When her best friend’s death rattles her sense of complacency, college professor Leila Landsman decides she’s finally had enough of her cheating husband. Leila throws herself into her work and encounters Becky Burgess, a local woman who climbed her way out of poverty but whose success is completely halted when she becomes the prime suspect in her husband’s murder. Meanwhile, Leila’s housekeeper, Mary Burke, is no stranger to failed marriage. Abandoned by her husband for a younger woman, and unable to support herself on her own income alone, Mary now secretly sleeps in her clients’ houses, hiding her homelessness to remain employed and survive.
Flawed but resourceful, frightened yet determined, these three women must draw on an inner strength they never knew existed to make it without the men they’ve come to depend on. Although their situations differ, Leila, Becky, and Mary have all reached their tipping points—and each is about to be pushed to the brink—in this gripping and relatable story of the dangers of dependence and the liberating power of self-reliance.
Heartbroken after her girlfriend leaves her for another woman, Leslie, a history grad student, follows her thesis advisor from Grand Rapids to Detroit for a fresh start. There she befriends seventeen-year-old Honor, who sparks a familiar passion within her. Feeling that she can’t act on her desire, she sleeps with Honor’s older friend, Bernard, a gay former street hustler who resents his past and, to make matters more complicated, also lusts for Honor.
As the three grapple with issues of sexuality and identity, author Marge Piercy manages to be both intimately attuned to her characters’ emotions and aware of their role in a larger social and economic context. Leslie, Honor, and Bernard struggle financially in a city that doesn’t offer many opportunities, and they discover that expressing their sexuality and finding love may be privileges they cannot afford.
“A novel as ambiguous and fascinating as life itself.” —The New York Times
“Piercy goes over her subjects with a fine-tooth comb and provides food for thought about some of our directions, feelings and values.” —Publishers Weekly
Epic in scope, Marge Piercy’s sweeping novel encompasses the wide range of people and places marked by the Second World War. Each of her ten narrators has a unique and compelling story that powerfully depicts his or her personality, desires, and fears. Special attention is given to the women of the war effort, like Bernice, who rebels against her domineering father to become a fighter pilot, and Naomi, a Parisian Jew sent to live with relatives in Detroit, whose twin sister, Jacqueline—still in France—joins the resistance against Nazi rule.
The horrors of the concentration camps; the heroism of soldiers on the beaches of Okinawa, the skies above London, and the seas of the Mediterranean; the brilliance of code breakers; and the resilience of families waiting for the return of sons, brothers, and fathers are all conveyed through powerful, poignant prose that resonates beyond the page. Gone to Soldiers is a testament to the ordinary people, with their flaws and inner strife, who rose to defend liberty during the most extraordinary times.
For more than a decade, Dinah, Susan, and Susan’s husband, Willie—artists and neighbors in a small Cape Cod town—have enjoyed an unconventional, but deeply satisfying, three-way relationship. When the annual summer crowd flocks to the Cape, Dinah misses her quiet afternoons composing music in the woods, and Willie, a sculptor, puts aside his own work to do carpentry jobs on lavish vacation homes. Susan, though, envies the glamorous lives of the summer residents. And one visitor, Tyrone Burdock, a wealthy and seductive financier, offers her an enticing glimpse into his world that may jolt the foundation of her ménage à trois.
The clash between moneyed newcomers and the soulful artists who live on the Cape year-round shakes the threesome’s external world and the bonds holding them together as they see their bohemian enclave becoming a bourgeois retreat. Bestselling author Marge Piercy skillfully navigates this unique landscape with vivid details and an eye for emotional complexity, bringing these singular characters to life as their relationship undergoes profound changes that will resonate long after the summer people have left.
Piercy offers her distinct slant on each element of the feast and provides dozens of her own wonderful recipes, which she delivers in the same warm, commanding voice as is heard in her poems and prose: “When I told Ira that I was going to explain how to cook matzoh brei, he thought I was crazy. Everybody knows how to make matzoh brei, he said. But I am of the opinion that there is no longer anything that everybody knows how to cook.”
It is in that spirit–no question too simple–that Piercy welcomes readers to her kind of seder: a homemade and personal affair, the kind we all wish we could attend. This charming and instructive book of Passover wisdom, brimming with favorite dishes and Marge Piercy’s own moving Passover poems and blessings, invites us to look at an important Jewish ritual in a whole new way.
From the Hardcover edition.
Growing up, Beth always dreamed of her wedding day. But a few months into her marriage to Jim, whose affection she once clung to desperately, she realizes she didn’t anticipate life beyond the altar. Jim spends his nights out drinking with his buddies and criticizes every meal Beth cooks, and the only solution her family suggests is to have a baby—which she knows would trap her in this miserable life forever. So she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Boston. There she meets Miriam, an ambitious computer science PhD candidate who nonetheless gives up her career for an unfulfilling marriage.
Alongside a cast of intellectuals, budding feminists, and political activists, Beth and Miriam find themselves rapidly evolving as they are swept up in the tumultuous social upheaval of the sixties. Experimenting with relationships and sexuality, and taking a stand for women’s rights and against the Vietnam War, they learn to trust their instincts and lean on each other. Small Changes is a glimmering example of bestselling author Marge Piercy’s knack for capturing the authentic struggles and desires of contemporary women with clarity and compassion.
After a cross-country tour promoting her latest cookbook, Daria Walker is ready to return to her beautiful home in an affluent Boston suburb and her beloved husband, Ross, a prominent attorney whose rough-hewn good looks have never stopped charming her. But when she arrives, he blindsides her by announcing he wants a divorce. Surprised and devastated, Daria suspects he may be having an affair, but the reality is far worse and will tear apart the illusion of her perfectly happy family.
When a boy dies tragically and a scandal erupts involving a mercenary slumlord, Daria is outraged along with the rest of the city. But when she learns that Ross may have a connection to the case, she sets out on a journey to discover the truth—a quest that will cast a shadow over the comfortable life she once enjoyed.
From the New York Times–bestselling author of Woman on the Edge of Time, Fly Away Home is the story of a woman forced to question her values, her relationships, and herself—“a tale of love, betrayal, and revenge set against a backdrop of sterile suburbs, confrontational politics [and] the evils of gentrification” (The New York Times).
Intertwining the lives of three generations of contemporary women, master storyteller Marge Piercy plunges into the deepest, most elemental basics of life -- love, aging, illness, and death -- and emerges with a brave, compassionate exploration of the volatile ground between mothers and daughters.
A local university plans to bulldoze and replace parts of a predominantly African American Chicago slum with student housing. But for those who live there, the affordable if run-down homes are havens for creativity and self-exploration, and a setting for developing meaningful relationships. Among the residents are Anna, a teacher; her lover, Rowley, a soul singer; and their friends, documentary filmmaker Leon and the beautiful yet mysterious Caroline. The university may have more money and political clout, but these determined young people aren’t willing to let the wrecking ball tear through their world without a fight.
Their relationships are strained and their convictions are tested as secrets are uncovered and they battle with a changing economic climate that jeopardizes their very way of life. The city has turned its back on them, and they have nothing left to lose. Bestselling author Marge Piercy combines social commentary and her talent for depicting characters’ emotions with unflinching precision in this novel that has as much to say about the consequences of gentrification as it does about the vulnerabilities of the human heart.
While Melissa and Blake's attraction is immediate and fiery, a dangerous secret lurks beneath their relationship -- one that could destroy them ... and their families.
Provocative and beautifully written, and dealing with themes of love, honesty, identity, and the consequences of ambition, The Third Child is a remarkable page-turner.
In the tradition of her bestselling World War II epic Gone to Soldiers, Marge Piercy once again re-creates a turbulent period in American history and explores changing attitudes in a land of sacrifice, suffering, promise, and reward.
With searing honesty, Piercy tells of her strained childhood growing up in a religiously split, working-class family in Detroit. She examines her myriad friendships and relationships, including two painful early marriages, and reveals their effects on her creativity and career. More than a reminiscence of things past, however, Sleeping With Cats is also a celebration of the present and the future, as Piercy shares her views on aging, creativity, and finding a lasting and improbable love with a man fourteen years younger than herself.
A chronicle of the turbulent and exciting journey of one artist's life, Sleeping With Cats is a deeply intimate, unforgettable story.
When Cape Cod high school star pitcher David Greene left home, everyone in his small beach town rallied behind his dream of making it in the pros. No one expected the local legend to return broke a few years later, with an undistinguished minor league record and a painful divorce behind him. As he tries to rebuild his life, David begins an affair with Judith Silver—one that her much older, terminally ill husband, Gordon, condones on the condition that David run for a seat on the town’s board of selectman against Gordon’s political rival.
Set in a lushly drawn seaside resort town, this thrilling novel pushes its complicated and fascinating characters to extremes of emotion. Driven by passion and a lust for power, David, Judith, and Gordon are all guilty of seduction and manipulation that will result in irrevocable consequences. As David’s romantic and political involvements escalate at a fever pitch, a forceful storm rolls in off the ocean, leading up to a tumultuous climax.
Connie Ramos is a Mexican American woman living on the streets of New York. Once ambitious and proud, she has lost her child, her husband, her dignity—and now they want to take her sanity. After being unjustly committed to a mental institution, Connie is contacted by an envoy from the year 2137, who shows her a time of sexual and racial equality, environmental purity, and unprecedented self-actualization. But Connie also bears witness to another potential outcome: a society of grotesque exploitation in which the barrier between person and commodity has finally been eroded. One will become our world. And Connie herself may strike the decisive blow.
Praise for Woman on the Edge of Time
“This is one of those rare novels that leave us different people at the end than we were at the beginning. Whether you are reading Marge Piercy’s great work again or for the first time, it will remind you that we are creating the future with every choice we make.”—Gloria Steinem
“An ambitious, unusual novel about the possibilities for moral courage in contemporary society.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A stunning, even astonishing novel . . . marvelous and compelling.”—Publishers Weekly
“Connie Ramos’s world is cuttingly real.”—Newsweek
“Absorbing and exciting.”—The New York Times Book Review
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions--and the ability to kill....
From the imagination of Marge Piercy comes yet another stunning novel of morality and courage, a bold adventure of women, men, and the world of tomorrow.
From the Paperback edition.
In her trademark style, combining the sublime with the gritty, Marge Piercy describes the night she was born: “the sky burned red / over Detroit and sirens sharpened their knives. / The elms made tents of solace over grimy / streets and alley cats purred me to sleep.” She writes in graphic, unflinching language about the poor, banished now by politicians because they are no longer “real people like corporations.” There are elegies for her peer group of poets, gone now, whose work she cherishes but from whom she cannot help but want more. There are laments for the suicide of dolphins and for her beloved cats, as she remembers “exactly how I loved each.” She continues to celebrate Jewish holidays in compellingly original ways and sings praises of her marriage and the small pleasures of daily life.
This is a stunning collection that will please those who already know Marge Piercy’s work and offer a splendid introduction to it for those who don’t.
About Marge Piercy's collection of her old and new poems that celebrate the Jewish experience, the poet Lyn Lifshin writes: "The Art of Blessing the Day is an exquisite book. The whole collection is strong, passionate, and poignant, but the mother and daughter poems, fierce and emotional, with their intense ambivalence, pain and joy, themes of separation and reconnecting, are among the very strongest about that difficult relationship.
"These striking, original, beautifully sensuous poems do just that. Ordinary moments--a sunset, a walk, a private religious ritual--are so alive in poems like 'Shabbat moment' and 'Rosh Hodesh.' In the same way that she celebrates ordinary moments, small things become charged with memories and feelings: paper snowflakes, buttons, one bird, a bottle-cap flower made from a ginger ale top and crystal beads.
"She celebrates the body in rollicking, gusto-filled poems like 'Belly good' and 'The chuppah,' where 'our bodies open their portals wide.' So much that is richly sensuous: 'hands that caressed you, . . . untied the knot of pleasure and loosened your flesh till it fluttered,' and lush praise for 'life in our spines, our throats, our knees, our genitals, our brains, our tongues.'
"I love the humor in poems like 'Eat fruit,' the nostalgia and joy in 'The rabbi's granddaughter and the Christmas tree,' the fresh, beautiful images of nature--'In winter . . .the sun hangs its wizened rosehip in the oaks.'
"I admire Piercy's sense of the past alive in the present, in personal and social history. The poems are memorials, like the yahrtzeit candle in a glass. 'We lose and we go on losing,' but the poems are never far from harsh joy, the joy that is 'the wine of life.'
"Growing up haunted by Holocaust ghosts is an echo throughout the book, and some of the strongest poems are about the Holocaust, poems that become the voices of those who had no voice: 'What you carry in your blood is us, the books we did not write, music we could not make, a world gone from gristle to smoke, only as real now as words can make it.'
"Marge Piercy's words make such a moving variety of experiences beautifully and forcefully real."
Feisty and funny as always, she turns a sharp eye on the world around her, bidding an exhausted farewell to the twentieth century and singing an "electronic breakdown blues" for the twenty-first. She memorializes movingly those who, like los desaparecidos and the victims of 9/11, disappear suddenly and without a trace.
She writes an elegy for her mother, a woman who struggled with a deadening round o fhousework, washin gon Monday, ironing on Tuesday, and so on, "until stroke broke/her open." She remembers the scraps of lace, the touch of velvet, that were part of her maternal inheritance and fist aroused her sensual curiosity.
Here are paeans to the pleasures of the natural world (rosy ripe tomatoes, a mating dance of hawks) as the poet confronts her own mortality in the cycle of seasons and the eternity of the cosmos: "iam hurrying, I am running hard / toward I don't know what, / but I mean to arrive before dark." Other poems--about her grandmother's passage from Russia to the New World, or the interrupting of a Passover seder to watch a comet pass--expand on Piercy's appreciation of Jewish life that won her so much acclaim in The Art of Blessing the Day.
Colors Passing Through Us is a moving celebration of the endurance of love an dof the phenomenon of life itself--a book to treasure.
From the Hardcover edition.
"The Chuppah" comprises poems actually used in her wedding ceremony with Ira Wood. This section sings with powerfully female love poetry. There is also a sustained and direct use of her Jewish identity and faith in these poems, as there is in a number of other poems throughout the volume.
Readers of Piercy's previous collections will not be surprised to encounter her mixture of the personal and the political, her love of animals and the Cape landscape. There are poems about doing housework, about accidents, about dreaming, about bag ladies, about luggage, about children's fears of nuclear holocaust; about tomcats, insects in the rafters, the influence of a name, appleblossoms and blackberries, pollution, and some of the ways women objectify one another. In "Does the light fail us, or do we fail the light?" Piercy writes with lacerating honesty about our relationships with the elderly and about hers with her father.
Some of the most moving poems are domestic, as in the final sequence, "Six underrated pleasures," which finds in daily women's tasks both pleasure and mystery, affirmation of serf and connection with the mother.
In all, My Mother's Body is one of Piercy's most powerful and balanced collections.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Here are poems that chart the milestone events and fierce passions of her middle years: the death of her mother, whom we meet first as a young woman, “awkwardly lovely, her face / pure as a single trill perfectly / prolonged on a violin,” and again as an older woman musing on what the afterlife may hold for her. There is a new marriage which she celebrates not only for romantic beginnings but also for the more intimate details that emerge over time: “love cherishes too the backpockets, / the pencil ends of childhood fears.”
Some poems convey her long-held, never-wavering political convictions, which she declares in language unmistakably and colorfully her own, as when she encourages her feminist readers to go to the opera instead of the movies because at least there the heroine is real, “fifty and weighs as much as a ’65 Chevy with fins.”
Living out to sea on Cape Cod settles her into the rhythm of seasons and provides poems of planting and harvests, odes to tomatoes and roses, tributes to the power and freedom of whales. And in these years she rediscovers her Jewish heritage, celebrating holidays and making of them something new and original.
She begins to examine her own legacy:
I have worn the faces, the masks
of hieroglyphs, gods and demons,
bat faced ghosts, sibyls and thieves,
lover, loser, red rose and ragweed,
these are the tracks I have left
on the white crust of time.
From the Hardcover edition.