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Now, Voyager by Olive Higgins Prouty
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Now, Voyager (1941)

by Olive Higgins Prouty

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When I found this hidden in the stacks at the library, I snatched it as though it was a prize jewel. For a long time now, I've wanted to take a crack at Prouty's work, especially since becoming aware of her connection with Sylvia Plath. But unfortunately, like Plath, I'm not crazy about Prouty's writing style. Alas. The plot, however, is fantastic, and extremely unconventional for the time. ( )
  TRWhittier | Apr 25, 2014 |
Not the book I expected it to be. I've seen the Bette David movie based on this book a dozen times, so I expected a slightly weepy romance. What I got was a rather surprising story filled with subtext, a story about a woman breaking the mold for women of her class and her time -- single by choice, in charge of her own money and her own sexuality, raising a child on her own and maintaining her own life. Not what I'd expect of a book written in the 1940s.

Of course, if you aren't familiar with the story of Charlotte Vale, of the Boston Vales, then you might be forgiven for not quite seeing in this story what I see, but it's all there -- hidden a bit because of the expectations of those times, muted with wind blown curtains and swelling violins, but it's there. She's a remarkable woman despite her rich white privilege -- yes, today it seems like she hardly has any problems at all, just a domineering mother who wants to control every aspect of her life and a flock of family ready to see her strait jacketed into a preconceived role in life.

The book surprised me, and I feel a little ashamed to have been surprised. It's sometimes more shocking to realize the things about life and society we think are so contemporary, so modern, were really just as much a part of life 50 years ago. ( )
1 vote Murphy-Jacobs | Mar 29, 2013 |
Saw the movie as a teen, (it's my second favorite movie) then finally read the book. Loved it, it's very well written, the story flows back and forth without missing a beat but that said - it is different than the film in a lot of ways I didn't like, especially the Durrens character. Seems more of a failure to me in the book, but you can decide for yourself, I guess.
  PamilaDaniel | Apr 13, 2012 |
Another book I received because it was the basis of one of my favorite movies. The book and film are very close in story and I enjoyed the story of Charlotte Vale (who could now be no one else but Bette Davis) even in my second reading. There is a little history hidden throughout - a documentation of expected roles and options for women in the 1940s. ( )
  melissavenable | Apr 30, 2011 |
After my recent disappointment with The African Queen, I was quite relieved to find that this book is quite worthy of another of my favorite movies. The movie follows the story closely and lifts much of the significant dialog verbatim. The story is richer in detail, giving more insight into the motivations of Charlotte, Jerry, and even to a certain extent Dr. Jaquith. I'm now on the hunt for Olive Higgins Prouty's other books about the Vale family. ( )
  MuseofIre | Jul 7, 2009 |
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A blizzard was raging in New York, so she had read on the bulletin board before she left the ship.
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""Don't let's ask for the moon! We have the stars!" The film that concludes with Bette Davis's famous words, reaffirmed Davis's own stardom and changed the way Americans smoked cigarettes. But few contemporary fans of this story of a woman's self-realization know its source. Olive Higgins Prouty's 1941 novel Now, Voyager provides an even richer, deeper portrait of the inner life of its protagonist and the society she inhabits. Viewed from a distance of more than 60 years, it also offers fresh and quietly radical takes on psychiatric treatment, traditional family life, female desire, and women's agency." "Boston blueblood Charlotte Vale has led an unhappy, sheltered life. Lonely, dowdy, repressed, and pushing 40, Charlotte finds salvation at a sanitarium, where she undergoes an emotional and physical transformation. After her extreme makeover, the new Charlotte tests her mettle by embarking on a cruise - and finds herself in a torrid love affair with a married man which ends at the conclusion of the voyage. But only then can the real journey begin, as Charlotte is forced to navigate a new life for herself. While Now, Voyager is a tear-jerking romance, it is at the same time the story of a woman who finds the strength to chart her own course in life; who discovers love, sex, and even motherhood outside of marriage; and who learns that men are, ultimately, dispensable in the quest for happiness and fulfillment."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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