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Now, Voyager (1941)

by Olive Higgins Prouty

Series: The Vale novels (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1848116,942 (3.78)45
"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 novelNow, 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. Dowdy, repressed, and pushing forty, Charlotte finds salvation in the unlikely form of a nervous breakdown, placing her at a sanitarium, where she undergoes treatment to rebuild her ravaged self-esteem and uncover her true intelligence and charm. Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women's writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series:Bedelia;Bunny Lake Is Missing;By Cecile;The G-String Murders;The Girls in 3-B;Laura;The Man Who Loved His Wife;Mother Finds a Body;Now, Voyager;Return to Lesbos;Skyscraper;Stranger on Lesbos;Stella Dallas;Women's Barracks.… (more)
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» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The film has a special place for me, even though I find its world view not always comfortable. The book seems to be more assertive about Charlotte and her awakening, even if it still comes to much the same unsettling ending. I really enjoyed reading this, Charlotte came very alive for me and J.D. was a much more fleshed out character. Tina still remained much of an enigma but it feels deliberate and she is perhaps more of a means to an ends than a fully developed part of the story.I am still not finding the feminist message in it but it was a good and thought-provoking read.
  amyem58 | Apr 5, 2021 |
Honestly, I didn't care for this story. I don't think I've seen the movie--or it's been so long ago I forgot it--but of course I recognized that famous last line. And that sums up my issues with it. I know this is supposed to be a story of transformation and of a woman making her own life for herself, but transformation doesn't seem so challenging when you've got tons of money, and I still felt that in the end, Charlotte had constructed her life around a man--a man she couldn't have. You've got the stars--be happy with that! Hopeless love, isn't it romantic? No, it's not; it's depressing. I didn't like how the betrayed wife was portrayed: so one-dimensional and unattractive in every possible aspect that she didn't seem real but rather a construct to make us more sympathetic to her adulterous husband. Finally, Charlotte taking in her lover's youngest child didn't bother me so much as her belief that the child was actually hers and her lover's--that seems more than a little pathological to me. I'm surprised this is part of the Femmes Fatales series as it doesn't read like pulp to me at all. ( )
  sturlington | Jul 23, 2020 |
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 |
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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 novelNow, 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. Dowdy, repressed, and pushing forty, Charlotte finds salvation in the unlikely form of a nervous breakdown, placing her at a sanitarium, where she undergoes treatment to rebuild her ravaged self-esteem and uncover her true intelligence and charm. Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women's writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series:Bedelia;Bunny Lake Is Missing;By Cecile;The G-String Murders;The Girls in 3-B;Laura;The Man Who Loved His Wife;Mother Finds a Body;Now, Voyager;Return to Lesbos;Skyscraper;Stranger on Lesbos;Stella Dallas;Women's Barracks.

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