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This review is taken from PN Review 65, Volume 15 Number 3, January - February 1989.

EXPLORING THE WILDERNESS Jane Rogers, The Ice is Singing (Faber), £9.95

Not another book about a victim-woman, slightly mad, rejected by husband, rejecting children, running away to find herself? Not more fine writing about female anomie and despair? Jane Rogers, however, has the patience and energy to avoid the clichés and make us see what we thought was safe, familiar territory as a fascinating wilderness, full of unexplored tracts and dangerous possibilities. That wilderness is of course the female psyche, and it is rare to find someone so clear of ideological prejudice that the map she offers is one which you can follow without being led back to the same old muddy paddock where the feminist workhorses plough predictable furrows of self-pity and revenge on man! (I write that as a feminist who believes feminism is best served by truth, however unpalatable it may seem.)

Marion, a woman in her late thirties, tells us how she has abandoned her baby twins to her sister and set off in her car across the snowy northern landscape to sort herself out. The weather is a metaphor for the freezing and melting of her emotions as she painfully puts together a picture of her past. She is a child-loving, low-earning wife who finally loses both high-flying husband and adolescent daughters to a younger woman during a bout of acute post-natal depression. In between gobbets of her own story she feeds us other tales, all about the parent-child relationship at its most parasitic and cruel.

There is Alice, the elderly ...

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