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When Women Were Dragons

by Kelly Barnhill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9762721,084 (3.97)49
"Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950's America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex's beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn't know. It's taboo to speak of. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this disturbing event: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and helping to raise a beloved younger girl obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the forced limitations of girlhood. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small-their lives and their prospects-and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve"--… (more)
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» See also 49 mentions

English (26)  Dutch (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
In this novel, women sometimes become dragons - sometimes in individual instances and others in mass. For all that this is a fantastical element, these dragons exist in a world that is very much our own. The Mass Dragoning of 1955 centers this novel, which is very much about one family and the impact of members leaving, staying, and returning. The process of becoming a dragon is something only addressed in whispers and discouraged by society even as it continues to happen. Metaphors abound in this novel and while one could certainly read this novel as a metaphor for many things, one could also simply enjoy it as a great story. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jan 23, 2024 |
This book is rather obviously an allegory for women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, and an exploration of the anger of women. But it doesn't creak though it repeats, and repetition is part of the structure. It's is a bit impeded by wanting to tell more story than quite fits into a compact plot so there is some roughness in the flow when the thrust of the rather slow quiet action shifts. ( )
1 vote quondame | Jan 12, 2024 |
Beautiful book. Everything well-described, great characters who are distinct and varied. Great story. ( )
  zjakkelien | Jan 2, 2024 |
Really good. I think I would have liked it better when I was younger, when my rage was always boiling. I'm not thrilled with the ending: it felt like the most fairy-tale part in a story that has a lot of dragons.

I would still recommend this to my dragon loving friends. I'd talk about it with a feminist book club. It just doesn't quite align with me. ( )
  embly | Nov 4, 2023 |
The audiobook is marvelously narrated. This story is different and wonderful that it is beyond description. A slow but wonderful burn.pissibly my favorite audiobook of 2023. ( )
  Tosta | Oct 20, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kelly Barnhillprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Day, CharlotteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahon, EmilyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The dragon is in the barrow, wise and proud with treasures. -- Anglo-Saxon proverb
They were ferocious in appearance, terrible in shape with great heads, long necks, thin faces, yellow complexions, shaggy ears, wild foreheads, fierce eyes, foul mouths, horses' teeth, throats vomiting flames, twisted jaws, thick lips, strident voices, singed hair, fat cheeks, pigeon breasts, scabby thighs, knotty knees, crooked legs, swollen ankles, splay feet, spreading mouths, raucous cries. For they grew so terrible to hear with their mighty shriekings that they filled almost the whole intervening space between heaven and earth with their discordant bellowings.

-Life of Saint Guthlac by Felix, an East Anglian monk, approximately AD 730, in which the good monk describes the original occupants of the barrow where the Saint had attempted to build his hermitage.
If I, like Solomon...

could have my wish--

my wish... O to be a dragon,

a symbol of the power of Heaven--of silkworm

size or immense; at times invisible.

Felicitous phenomenon!
-- "O to be a Dragon" by Marianne Moore, 1959
Dedication
For Christine Blasey Ford,

whose testimony triggered this narrative;
And for my children --

dragons, all.
First words
Greetings, Mother--

I do not have much time.
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"Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950's America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex's beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn't know. It's taboo to speak of. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this disturbing event: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and helping to raise a beloved younger girl obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the forced limitations of girlhood. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small-their lives and their prospects-and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve"--

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