About Women: Conversations Between a Writer and a Painter

About Women: Conversations Between a Writer and a Painter

Lisa Alther

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 038553986X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A provocative and wide-ranging conversation between two distinctive women—one American and one French—on the dilemmas, rewards, and demands of womanhood.

Lisa Alther and Françoise Gilot have been friends for more than twenty-five years. Although from different backgrounds (Gilot from cosmopolitan Paris, Alther from small-town Tennessee) and different generations, they found they have a great deal in common as women who managed to support themselves with careers in the arts while simultaneously balancing the obligations of work and parenthood. 

About Women 
is their extended conversation in which they talk about everything important to them: their childhoods, the impact of war on their lives and their work, and their views on love, style, self-invention, feminism, and child rearing. They also discuss the creative impulse and the importance of art as they ponder what it means to be a woman.

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shirts or jerseys, mostly from a store called Old England. But the party dresses for special occasions were supposed to be individual statements. On Sunday, we went for lunch to my paternal grandmother’s with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles, and for that you had to be well dressed. During afternoons off from school, we would see other children, and for those occasions we had to dress up. But at school, we even wore black pinafores. LA: Did the really popular girls wear their school hats or

incubator company before she married. After she married, she had five daughters, and it sounds as though she went into a permanent depression. The only thing she enjoyed was organizing the sales and dinners at her church. She hated cooking and housework. Her spinster sister, a nurse who lived with them, did most of it, along with her daughters, my aunts. So that grandmother was fairly revolutionary in her youth, but marriage and motherhood damped her down—just as they seemed to my own mother.

interesting aspect of that surge of female creativity between the two world wars had to do with the influx and input of the White Russian immigrants from Moscow and St. Petersburg, who brought to Paris their folkloric traditions, their zest for life, their modern ideas, and the urgent need to make a living. My grandmother befriended some Russian women and learned to decorate blouses and dresses with point de croix embroidery in different colors. Many of these new Paris residents became

Frenchwomen were unconcerned by what was going on during World War II because they remained as elegant as they could. That was the period when they wore the most extravagant hats. Since there were no cars, everyone had to travel in the subway. So in the evening you saw those marvelous hats, and the Germans couldn’t comprehend why Frenchwomen would be so frivolous as to think about something like that at that time. In fact, it was because the Germans had forbidden the French to use fabric for

these sects with minor points of difference. My grandmother’s uncle was a Baptist preacher famous in southwest Virginia—John Calvin Swindall. He was the head of the Soft-Shell Baptists and spent his entire career fighting against the Hard-Shell Baptists. The only difference was that the Soft Shells believed anyone had the potential to be saved. The Hard Shells believed, first of all, that only Baptists could be saved and, second, that there was predestination. Whereas Soft Shells were into

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