Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

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This is the kind of book that I don’t like to review (because I didn’t really like it and many others in the blogosphere do), so I’ll keep this post short.

I liked bits of Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier (1999), and then the author started really irritating me. My main issue was a misunderstanding of what Ms Angier hoped to accomplish in her volume. When I began reading, I thought I was picking up a pop science book about the majesty of woman’s body, scientifically examined. That is not what this is. After a hundred pages, I realized that this is a personal view of women as written by a journalist with a background in science.

In the introduction, Natalie Angier calls this her “fantasia” on women.  One definition of “fantasia” on M-W.com is “a work in which the author’s fancy roves unrestricted.” This is what Ms. Angier does in her tome about womanhood, so given her self-description I should not have been surprised by the non-scientific tone. From chapters on the organs specific to women (some of which garnered double chapters) to the hormones that function in the background, Woman certainly does cover a lot of ground. I didn’t want an incredibly scientific tone – pop science does appeal to me. But Woman became far more political and opinionated than I had anticipated.

I consider myself middle of the road politically – conservative on some issues, liberal on others. But this liberal author became irritatingly overbearing as she discussed some issues1 Especially her later chapters felt like opinion and not fact, and it was a major turn off as I continued reading.

I was incredibly disappointed, since I had hoped for a more fact-based look at that majesty of my womanly body. If you don’t mind opinion mixed in with scientific facts, then this may be just the pop science/journalism book that you want to read about women.

For a positive “must read” post about this book, see Eva’s blog.

  1. I choose not to go in to the specifics that annoyed me.
Reviewed on October 3, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Yeah, I don’t think I would like this book either. I politically in a similar situation as you, and pretty much anything political bothers me. Great review!

  • I started reading this a few months ago — I do think I’ll probably return to it at some point, as it sounds like it has lots of good information in it — and I found myself getting really frustrated with the style of the writing. It was just so swooshy and overblown! I wanted her to calm down and give me some straight talk instead of writing like a weirdo. We’ll see how I manage when I try again.

    • Jenny » YES! You’ve nailed it. Maybe it wasn’t the subject matter so much as just the annoyance factor. I reread some of the quotes on Eva’s post and I kept thinking, yeah, I agree with that and all, but in the context of 350 pages of her opinion and VOICE it was just so annoying. Glad I”m not the only one annoyed by her style.

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