A provocative and wide-ranging conversation between two distinctive women—one American and one French—on the dilemmas, rewards, and demands of womanhood.
Lisa Alther and Françoise Gilot have been friends for more than twenty-five years. Although from different backgrounds (Gilot from cosmopolitan Paris, Alther from small-town Tennessee) and different generations, they found they have a great deal in common as women who managed to support themselves with careers in the arts while simultaneously balancing the obligations of work and parenthood.
About Women is their extended conversation in which they talk about everything important to them: their childhoods, the impact of war on their lives and their work, and their views on love, style, self-invention, feminism, and child rearing. They also discuss the creative impulse and the importance of art as they ponder what it means to be a woman.
American novelist Alther (Kinflicks) and French artist Gilot (Life with Picasso) converse on an array of topics including their vocations, cultural differences, fashion, and family histories. Gilot recalls a girlhood living in turmoil in France in between the World Wars; Alther grew up in a southern Appalachian factory town during the Cold War era. Family stories are woven into a larger conversation; comments on feminism and the different relationships between the sexes in France and North America lead to a discussion on women as vessels of oral history and Alther's suffragette great-grandmother. The two find fertile ground for agreement when discussing the creative process, both noting the importance of the oral tradition. Alther suggests that the American South produces so many fiction writers because it is "the only part of the country where people can sit still long enough." Lighter topics include the progression of women's undergarments, the little black dress, and the formalities of wedding ceremonies. In this tribute to the length and quality of their friendship, the authors adeptly draw one another out, challenge each other, and build on each other's ideas. The conversation is consistently funny, interesting, and thoughtful.