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Bitter Bitch
Cover of Bitter Bitch
Bitter Bitch
A Novel

On a miserable January morning, Sarah is sitting on a plane to Tenerife, Spain—without her husband or her children—for a week-long vacation. At the age of thirty, she's just realized that she's very angry with her life, her choices, and her family—and that she's becoming a bitter bitch. For plane reading, she carries a copy of Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and suddenly wishes it were 1975 instead of 2005—although she wonders how things have gotten so bad that all she craves is a full night's sleep instead of a zipless f**k.
Sarah never intended for things to turn out the way they have: She just dreamed of love like everyone else. But now she's sitting on the plane, thinking about all the injustices she's suffered. Thinking about how thoroughly fooled she was by the storybook promise of love—the one that makes us want to start a family. Thinking about all the women she knows who, like her, were drained of all their energy and sentenced to a family prison—an inheritance passed down directly from generation to generation, from her restless mother's eczema-covered dishpan hands to her own nervous over-achiever complex.
Angry and candid, Bitter Bitch is a wild, uncompromising novel, at the heart of which is one of the most important women's issues: How can we ever have an egalitarian society when we can't even live in equality with those we love?

On a miserable January morning, Sarah is sitting on a plane to Tenerife, Spain—without her husband or her children—for a week-long vacation. At the age of thirty, she's just realized that she's very angry with her life, her choices, and her family—and that she's becoming a bitter bitch. For plane reading, she carries a copy of Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and suddenly wishes it were 1975 instead of 2005—although she wonders how things have gotten so bad that all she craves is a full night's sleep instead of a zipless f**k.
Sarah never intended for things to turn out the way they have: She just dreamed of love like everyone else. But now she's sitting on the plane, thinking about all the injustices she's suffered. Thinking about how thoroughly fooled she was by the storybook promise of love—the one that makes us want to start a family. Thinking about all the women she knows who, like her, were drained of all their energy and sentenced to a family prison—an inheritance passed down directly from generation to generation, from her restless mother's eczema-covered dishpan hands to her own nervous over-achiever complex.
Angry and candid, Bitter Bitch is a wild, uncompromising novel, at the heart of which is one of the most important women's issues: How can we ever have an egalitarian society when we can't even live in equality with those we love?

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 25, 2011
    The inequalities between men and women spawns a dry, forthright work by Swedish radio and TV producer Sveland. Armed with Erica Jong's Fear of Flying to keep her company on a solo holiday to the Canary Islands, Sara compares herself to Jong's protagonist, Isadora: 30, tired of sex-stifling married life, and appalled by the persistently patronizing attitude of men toward women. But unlike Isadora, the advocate of the original "zipless fuck," Sara does not want to sleep with any one but her husband; she just wants to own her own life. Ensuing chapters cut back to momentous periods of Sara's life: her father's treatment of her mother soured Sara's sense of marital relations; her schoolteachers assured her that as an attractive girl she did not need to be a serious student; and her husband's long absences for work when she had a newborn son left her feeling abandoned. Over her week's reflection—some thoughtful, some tedious—Sara makes a few resolutions about how to best live her life. Not much actually happens; it's close, quiet, and more interested in ideas than in narrative.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2011

    Just when one dares to think that contemporary society has attained equality between the sexes (at least within industrialized nations) along comes a feminist rant in the form of a novel (a best seller in Europe) by a young Swedish author. In dire need of a retreat from domesticity, Sara breaks away from her husband and toddler son and takes off for a week in the Canary Islands equipped with Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. Has the world truly taken a few steps back from the "you've come a long way, baby" revolutionary 1970s? This novel shouts a resounding, "Yes!" Free from her responsibilities, Sara ponders her life, her loves, her needs, and asks the existential questions: Is this all there is? How does a woman reconcile her role as wife and mother with her own individuality and unique gifts? Why can't a woman be as sexually free as a man without being denigrated as a whore? Sprinkled throughout the text are reverential paeans to early women artists and feminist writers like Simone de Beauvoir and Virginia Woolf. VERDICT The reader must put up with a certain amount of narcissistic navel-gazing to obtain a voyeuristic but interesting view of a smart, cosmopolitan, young woman's life.--Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Bitter Bitch
Bitter Bitch
A Novel
Maria Sveland
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