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Secret Voices A Year of Women’s Diaries

"Spanning centuries, this day-by-day anthology of excerpts from women’s diaries is an engaging, enlightening pleasure."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Traversing four centuries, Secret Voices: A Year of Women's Diaries sees biographer and journalist Sarah Gristwood present an enlightening record of female experiences, revealing what has and — crucially — what hasn’t changed through time.

Illuminating and often entertaining as it covers domestic life, working life and social life, sex, children, men, and engagement with the wider world, Gristwood notes in her introduction that though incredibly varied, the entries are connected by one telling theme: “if I were to pick out the single strongest emotions voiced through all these diary entries I think it would be anger – frustration. And that is something that our cultural norms have allowed women to voice only secretly. The diary has been the echo chamber for a woman’s own voice, as opposed to what she was supposed to say".

In this context, Secret Voices is organised by day from 1st January, so we spend a year in the company of the women whose words it shares. Each day features writings by several voices that traverse generations, geographical location, background and ages to present thoroughly fascinating insights into the thoughts, anxieties, dreams and desires of dozens of women, from writers, intellectuals and political figures, to actors, society personalities and poets.

Mixing writings by famous figures (Virginia Woolf, Oprah Winfrey and Alice Walker, for example) with the words of unknown women, a rich tapestry of insights and experiences are brought to life by these pages. 

Joanne Owen

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