The Awakening (by Kate Chopin) is a bit of an odd one to describe. There’s nothing offensive about it, but not a lot really happens… I’d probably describe it as a less dire version of Madame Bovary. The protagonists are very similar in their outlook, adventures and endings, but Edna is much more appealing than Emma. Edna does what she does because she has a completely different view of what motherhood and femininity are, compared those around her. Emma does what she does because she’s bored.
I would say that The Awakening is less pretentious, and because it’s not so hyped up, I didn’t know how it ended before I began. I can also imagine this one being more controversial at the time; Chopin describes female sexuality in a less than subtle way whereas Flaubert provides a critique on the French bourgeoisie.
It is a very short novel, so I struggled to form an attachment with the characters as I would with something longer. However, the narrator actively encourages you to sympathise with certain characters and be suspicious of others. This sort of made me feel as though my response to the book was not my own; it was predetermined by Chopin.
I’m not sure what else to say… I read it because I had to, and knowing that I have to study it is what propelled me on… I didn’t think it was terrible, but nor would I recommend it to anyone. It’s rare I’m so lost for words…