An essential discussion of how strong women experience their power: The Power Notebooks

The Power Notebooks
by Katie Roiphe
Narrated by: Katie Roiphe
Length: 6 hrs and 14 mins
Published March 3rd 2020 by Simon Schuster Audio
ISBN13: 9781797102863

Katie Roiphe, culture writer and author of The Morning After, shares a timely blend of memoir, feminist investigation, and exploration of famous female writers’ lives, in a bold, essential discussion of how strong women experience their power.

Told in a series of notebook entries, Roiphe weaves her often fraught personal experiences with divorce, single motherhood, and relationships with insights into the lives and loves of famous writers such as Sylvia Plath and Simone de Beauvoir. She dissects the way she and other ordinary, powerful women have subjugated their own power time and time again, and she probes brilliantly at the tricky, uncomfortable question of why.

In these informal musings and notes, Roiphe delves into treacherous, largely untalked about, contradictions of contemporary womanhood, going where few writers dare. The Power Notebooks is Roiphe’s most vital, thought provoking, and emotionally intimate work yet.

My Thoughts

This is my first experience with Katie Roiphe. I've not read any of her previous works, but I am aware she has ruffled some feathers with her previous books and articles. But I don't care. The subject of this memoir is what captured my attention. The Power Notebooks is a series of essays in which the author is trying to learn more about herself. The whys of her actions.She dissects her life as well as the lives of famous writers. She explores how some women in their writing seems so powerful as well as in public, but in their private lives they long to be subjugated. Which begs the question: Should women show vulnerability? 

I found the whole content of this book to be incredibly interesting. Roiphe lays herself bare sharing intimate details of her life. And listening to The Power Notebooks as an audiobook made Roiphe seem even more vulnerable. Roiphe is a gifted writer who makes you think about women and their choices. Why we do the things we do. Why we want the things we want. It takes courage to let people into your life. And even more courage to put it out there on paper for the world to see. Roiphe is not perfect. She doesn't claim to be superwoman or have all the answers. It's as if this book was saying: This is me. This is who I am. 

I don't agree with all her insights into the authors she writes about, and I cringed when she talked about an affair she had when she was fifteen with a 30-something year old rabbi. But it was interesting to hear her point of view nonetheless. I am so glad I picked this book up. It not only introduced me to Roiphe herself, but a few other authors I haven't had the pleasure of reading yet. And I've added more books to my wish list because of it. 

*My thanks to S&S for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.