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The Bleeding Heart by Marilyn French
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The Bleeding Heart (1980)

by Marilyn French

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Marilyn French is known for her adamant position of seeking gender equality; advocating women’s rights and supporting women’s issues. Her fiction is somewhat outdated. Published in 1980, this novel takes place in the previous decade. The typical American family was not yet largely accustomed to divorce, single parent families, and women in the pursuit of a professional career. "The Bleeding Heart" illustrates just how difficult it once was for women to become independent, to achieve their own livelihood, and establish equality at home with their marriage partners.

This is the story of Dolores Durer. She’s been through hell with a marriage that ended tragically and is determined never to fall in love again. Everywhere she looks she envisions male domination. The story personifies the worst of both physical and mental abuse by men. And during this era, even when no visible abuse took place, male domination was always apparent.

My first reaction was that Dolores was a whiner… deeply bitter and a man-hater. Just because her husband was a monster does not mean all men are bad. Consequently, I rapidly became tired of her disparaging attitude. She was down on anything that exudes power- capitalism, business, industry, and government… but mostly marriage and men in general. While this became a little tiring, it must be noted that the impetus of her story had not yet completely unfolded. But even after I understood the source of her animosity towards men, I sometimes sided with the “enemy”- concurring with the male point of view.

About the plot... it’s a tear jerker. Dolores does manage to fall in love again. And through the process of turning a random romantic tryst into a serious love affair, she reveals the story of her life. And in return, her lover Victor, shares his story which is every bit as tragic.

In love Dolores and Victor were definitely compatible, but in philosophies and politics they were polar opposites. They both accused each other of being an idealist. She never wavered, sacrificing everything for her principles- sure that the world could be changed if every woman stood firm, demanded equality, and rejected power. She despised people with power. Victor saw power to be a good thing and believed women already had more power than they realized. “Not until you and the millions of people like you who live with their heads in the sand move into accepting power, to see it as a positive thing, not something tainted and corrupting. See power as the wonderful, liberating thing it is! As a creative tool. If people start thinking that way, solutions will bubble up, will simply emerge naturally.” And Victor argued that women furtively exercise tremendous power in passive aggressive behavior which they use in an effort to gain the upper hand and control their husbands. Victor and Dolores had some powerful arguments as they tried to find common ground in their relationship.

Perhaps it was women like the fictional Dolores or Marilyn French herself that helped change the culture of society by making women aware that they could stand up for themselves. And reading "The Bleeding Heart" may have helped women realize that ending a bad marriage may be better for the children than staying together in a relationship filled with tension, resentment, and anger.

"The Bleeding Heart" is not a “classic”, nor is it on any “best novel” list, but it is an excellent representation of feminist issues and a good example of why women’s liberation became prevalent. ( )
  LadyLo | Dec 1, 2016 |
I personally found The Bleeding Heart by Marilyn French to be incredibly difficult to get through. It was such a heavy read with a very depressing theme. It was a lot of man-hating throughout the whole book with women thought as the superior gender but they were just put down by men.

The Bleeding Heart starts out by two strangers meeting on a train. They do not talk at all, in fact, when Victor enters the smoking car, Dolores glares at him hoping he would leave. Dolores is a self-proclaimed celibate woman. However, after that fateful train ride her self-proclamation was no more. They begin a year long relationship together, when they are both in England for year -long business. You would think it would be all chocolates and flowers. This is NOT the case in this book. In fact, most of the book is about hating on men and blaming everything on them. It was very depressing to read Dolores’ thoughts on men and how woman are superior. I found myself getting mad and annoyed at all her men hating lectures. I just wanted to shake her and say “you have a great man right here with you. Shut up and enjoy life!” Throughout the book, you learn why she is the way she is, but you don’t really learn truly why she is that way until the very end of the book. What happens to Victor and Dolores after the year is over and they have to go back to America? Will they stay together? Why is Dolores so against men? What has happened in her life to make her this way?

I really did not like this book at all and I found it did not capture my attention at all. However, towards the very end of the book when you learn why Dolores is how she is, I did feel better about all her men-hating lectures, but still it was too heavy and depressing for me. The writing and the descriptions were really well done but the plot for me did not truly showcase French’s writing ability. I would give this book 3 stars, because I personally wasn’t a fan but I think if you were going through a hard time with a breakup this might be the perfect book for you. ( )
1 vote srkromer | Mar 6, 2014 |
Every woman and girl should read Marilyn French. In The Bleeding Heart she sets out to do what she intended - show up our misogynistic society (and world) for what it is. She is intense yes, and I don't agree with everything - but she manages to get her true feminist ideals noted within the context of a fictional story. Excellent story regarding men and women's relationships and interactions. To me, the absolute sequel to The Women's Room. ( )
  HoladayB | Oct 17, 2009 |
Broken Heart, i read this book ions ago and all i can remember is that i cried my heart out and that i loved it. ( )
  AstridG | Mar 6, 2007 |
From the Inside Flap
By the author of the groundbreaking feminist novel THE WOMEN'S ROOM, THE BLEEDING HEART is a compelling novel about the devastating power of marriage -- and the unexpected power of love. A love story for and about adults, it speaks to the hearts and minds of women and men everywhere.
Dolores and Victor are both both successful, both Americans living alone in England. They meet and fall instantly in love, only to discover they agree on nothing. From the start they know they have only one year together. Their affair is sometimes bitter, always passionate, and, in the end, an extraordinary revelation for them both.
"A monumental achievement." -- Cosmopolitan
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  gnewfry | Feb 1, 2006 |
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Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
Dolores and Victor, both parents, both successful in their careers, both living in England without their families, both old enough to know better - meet on a train to Oxford and fall instantly in love, totally immersing themselves in a relationship that must end in one short year. Both have known the pain and guilt of failure, how to live in a present haunted by the ghosts of other times, other places. Together they explore the passion of loving and living with a ferocious intensity that will mark them for the rest of their lives.
By the best-selling author of The Women's Room, The Bleeding Heart is a classic of modern fiction that marks a milestone in our understanding of human relationships.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345288963, Mass Market Paperback)

By the author of the groundbreaking feminist novel THE WOMEN'S ROOM, THE BLEEDING HEART is a compelling novel about the devastating power of marriage -- and the unexpected power of love. A love story for and about adults, it speaks to the hearts and minds of women and men everywhere.
Dolores and Victor are both both successful, both Americans living alone in England. They meet and fall instantly in love, only to discover they agree on nothing. From the start they know they have only one year together. Their affair is sometimes bitter, always passionate, and, in the end, an extraordinary revelation for them both.
"A monumental achievement." -- Cosmopolitan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the bestselling author of The Women's Room comes a resonant novel about love and marriage. Dolores Durer, a divorced English professor and the mother of two adult children, has sworn off love after a series of disastrous affairs. Electronics executive Victor Morrissey is in England to open a branch office. He has four children and is unhappily married. From the moment they meet-on a train-their connection is instant and passionate. The two Americans abroad embark on an affair that will have consequences in both their lives. Each carries baggage. Dolores is haunted by family tragedy; Victor is tormented by marital estrangement. Driven by an impending sense of urgency, knowing their time together is finite, they struggle to transform their pasts into a hopeful future.… (more)

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