Completely magnificent. It breaks my heart that Chopin only wrote two novels, The Awakening and At Fault, and a few stories which were published in magazines; there’s so little to read! I adore the simplicity of her writing. Her relaxed tone. The way she loops descriptive passages from the beginning of the novel into its end, giving the story a rounded completeness. And the phenomenal depth and complexity of her female characters. Women who revel in traditional gender roles, women who’ve cast them unabashedly aside, and women who aren’t sure what they want. And it was written in 1899! One hundred years later and we’re still writing books that don’t have the same level of female character complexity as The Awakening.
However, because this book was written in 1899 the terminology used for people of colour is not what we would use today and may be disturbing to some readers. There’s very little racist behaviour in the text itself, especially considering the time of its publication, but the terms are assertively antiquated. I’ve definitely read worse, and worse written more recently. Just so you’re fully aware. Though I realize it’s impossible, I want everyone to appreciate this book as much as I did. In my humble opinion it is a gem of literary achievement.