An intense exploration of the life and works of Doris Lessing and how their themes are reflected in the writer's own life.
Free Woman begins at a wedding and ends in the African bush. This is a memoir of Feigel's own journey as a writer, which becomes enmeshed with that of Doris Lessing. Co-opting a dead novelist into an obsessive, ambivalent relationship, Feigel sets about learning from her about how to live.
Rereading The Golden Notebook in her midthirties, shortly after Doris Lessing's death, Lara Feigel discovered that Lessing was a writer who spoke directly to her about her experiences as a woman, writer, and mother in a way that no other novelist had done. At a time when she was dissatisfied with the constraints that she felt she and her generation seemed to accept blindly, Feigel was enticed particularly by Lessing's vision of freedom.
Part memoir, part biography, and part literary criticism, Free Woman is an examination of Lessing's life and work, structured as a series of nine investigations of sexual, psychological, intellectual, and political freedom. Feigel combines incisive writing, elegant exploration, and intimate revelations with a delicate sensitivity to relationships (both real and in literature) in times of great stress to mesmerizing effect.