I'm very on the fence with this book, thus the three stars. A solid middle ground. This book is being heralded as a feminist classic... but to be honest, I don't really see it. Estés talks a lot about the masculine/feminine nature, spirituality, and psychology, but nothing really about about feminism. Perhaps its the idea of it 'unlocking' the desires and feelings women it claims to do, through analysing fairy tales, folk tales and mythology through a Jungian lens. However, I didn't really conncect to anything, except the chapter about body image. And there was barely even any analysis in that chapter, just a recollection of thoughts and feelings on Estés end, that I agreed with. The thing was, Estés is talking like all women have a collective experience, like, we all want to give birth, for instance. Also, in the beginning, Estés says something like 'this book is for all people, no matter their class, education, gender, sexuality', but I found some problems with that. The book is very academically inclined and unnecessarily dense and filled with jargon that I would have a hard time imagining a non-reader or a 'casual reader' even finishing this book. A lot of the analysis of the stories are somewhat heteronormative and you can tell is only directed towards cisgender women. It was published in the 90's, so maybe I can forgive the oversight, since mainstream conversations about trans rights were barely starting, and I can't imagine a cis woman who shys away from calling herself a feminist (which I don't have a problem with, but this book is supposedly feminist, so it seems a little strange to me) even thinking about the topic. So. I really just ended up skimming the last half. At least one section was worthwhile.
One of the most profound reads of my lifetime. I have read and reread this book over the past twenty years and bought multiple copies for friends and strangers. It speaks to women the world over and has been translated into dozens of languages. Most will not read this cover to cover in one sitting. Think of the richness of chocolate cake this is a book you will dive into digesting in small portions over time, years even. You might also have days where you read chapter after chapter as you see yourself in those words. Either way, you can pick something from the contents or index and read a stand alone page and still find treasure in a paragraph or two. I recommend you keep a journal handy reading this will have you thinking and feeling on so many levels! Enjoy and read the longest poem in her-story - do that and you'll gain a deeper understanding of the way this is written!
This book has been a great find for me. It deals with many issues which have affected me throughout my life particularly my early development and the trauma I suffered within my family culture of rape and torture. Reading Estes has been a gift to me, providing many intellectual explanations , often using story telling as examples, which is now helping me to understand the dark underside of human nature, its anthropological, cultural and historical evolution, and ways for me to personally resist further mental and emotional anguish and suffering, and renew my life with vigour, passion, creativity, and self belief. The truth must be spoken, silence destroys the soul. I recommend this book to women and men who suffer from trauma and abuse, as a way to empower them to grow strong and independent of dominant people and bullies.