Kate Chopin’s novel, a landmark work of early feminism, is seen as a pre-cursor to the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The upper-class Creole society of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century is brought to audio in a stirring performance by Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger.
Edna Pontellier, vacationing for the summer with her family on Grand Isle, has a great desire to find and live fully within her true self. However, her struggle to reconcile her unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South brings the story to a tragic conclusion. The Awakening’s blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity is the first in a tradition that would culminate in the modern masterpieces of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.
Matriarch of fine literature Kate Chopin unfailingly delivers psychologically complex characters and stunningly visceral environments. Set in an upper-crust section of Louisiana towards the end of the 19th Century, The Awakening is meant to be performed. Award-winning actress Kim Basinger employs a crystalline tone when narrating this insightful and irony-rich work of fiction. Her voice is nimble enough to allow for dead-on mimicry of characters ranging from parrot to Frenchmen. Protagonist Edna Pontellier struggles to overcome feminine stereotype in a society that is determined to thwart her freedom. Rebelling against her cruel husband, Edna dallies with a young man of rakish character. Basinger’s taut voice enables listeners to hover with Edna between want and denial. Basinger’s cerebral yet poignant performance illuminates this profound novel.
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