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Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Greig (Book Review)

Title: A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy
Author: Charlotte Greig
Publisher/Publication Date: Other Press, LLC/May 2009


First sentence: I woke up late that morning.


About the book: Susannah’s official boyfriend, Jason, is the perfect foil for her student lifestyle. He is ten years older, an antiques dealer, and owns a stylish apartment that prevents her from having to live in the seedy digs on campus. This way, she can take her philosophy major very seriously and dabble in the social and sexual freedom of 1970s university life. But circumstances become more complicated than Susannah would like when she begins to have an affair with her tutorial partner, Rob. Soon she is dating two men, missing her lectures, exploring independence and feminism with her girlfriends, and finding herself in a particularly impossible dilemma: she becomes pregnant. Forced to look beyond her friends and lovers for support, she finds help and inspiration from the lessons of Kierkegaard and other European philosophers. A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy is a delightfully insightful, bittersweet coming-of-age romp, in which love is far from platonic and the mind—body predicament a pressing reality. It even succeeds where many introductions to philosophy have failed, by effortlessly bringing to life the central tenets of the most important European philosophers of modern times. (from the book cover)

My review:
I really enjoyed reading this book. The book was set in the 1970's - and even though the date is never mentioned, there are many clues regarding fashion, cars, etc, that lead you to the time frame. Susannah is very engaging and she drew me in immediately. Even though she did not want to live on campus and be a normal student, she seemed to crave the quiet that she found when she stayed at her friend's empty dorm room. It was almost like she was still a little girl who seemed to think she was supposed to be an adult, but didn't know how to get there. (I guess that is why they call it a coming-of-age book. . .) It was excellent in that regard. I wanted to shake her at times when I felt that instead of taking control of her life, she was letting it just sort of happen to her. Don't be intimidated by the European philosophers that they mention. The book is divided into sections depending on the philosophers that she is studying in her philosophy class. It does a nice time laying out what they believe and how she tries to apply these belief systems to her current situations. So not only do you get an entertaining read, but you also pick up some knowledge at the same time.

About the author: Charlotte Greig worked as a music journalist in print and radio before becoming a folk singer and songwriter. She has made five albums and written a book on girl groups, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?: Girl Groups from the 50s On. She is also a playwright, for radio and stage. She lives in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., with her family. A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy is her first novel.

A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy
Publisher/Publication Date: Other Press, LLC, May 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-59051-317-0
288 pages

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