Let me begin this review by pointing out that not all food critics like all restaurants and not all film critics like every movie. After careful consideration, I have to give this e-book my "strawberry curl" award. Because when it was good, it was very, very good and when it was bad, it was awful.
The introduction was a fascinating read all about the oppression of women and their achievements, focusing mainly on composers and artists and their accomplishments. Before the 20th century, men were made to shine, but if a woman did the same, or better, it was greatly downplayed or not even mentioned. There were several examples cited so the introduction was quite lengthy while full of interesting facts. The author seemed almost desperate to prove a point. After that, two things practically stood up and waved. First off, the book read as though it were written for academia and secondly all this fighting for rights and recognition began to feel as though it had been done before. Of course it had. By Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in the 1960s. This was written and published in the UK so maybe women there lagged behind in being recognized as equals?
The book is exhausting. It's like reading War and Peace. At 784 pages it's too wordy and overly long. l was taught in grade school not to mix your metaphors. And don't mix your terminology either. In an attempt to be scholarly the author doesn't want to call her experiences reincarnation. Instead,she refers to them as deep memory. Her credentials state she is a deep memory process therapist. As she says, "What would appear to be past lives must be unique." I'll say! She got a little carried away when writing the book.
From here on it gets a little dicey. The author recounts all her lives. Amazingly, she had one every century, like clockwork. And she tells you about all of them, in detail. (Hence, the 784 pages I've already mentioned.) The other surprising thing is that, unlike most reincarnation memory recalls, she comes back as a woman. Every single time. And her recalls read like a litany of injustices against women, especially concerning sex. Fascinatingly, the scenarios all seem to support her theories -- all of them -- and the points she makes about gender-based injustice. She starts out in Atlantis, then we go to ancient Egypt, skip to being an orphan in 2nd century Persia, there's a lesbian in Japan, a concubine in India . . . lives in England, France, Spain, European and South American countries through the ages and, finally, the 19th and 20th centuries.
As you make your way through the fanciful stories after a while suspect scenarios emerge. Reincarnating souls don't get to choose their destinations but the author says that flashbacks came to her during her personal (modern day) travels to various parts of the globe. Amazingly, she has never had a past life in a place she has not visited, like Alaska or the Wild West or Ireland.
Woman Through the Ages isn't a bad book, it's just not what it purports to be. The stories are interesting but I hardly think they can be attributed to past life recall or even a deep memory process. They're too pat and way too much about what the author believes and wants to illustrate. She has a vivid imagination and is a good storyteller. If you'd like a good winter read to while away the time during the cold, dark days in the North, this will keep you entertained.
~review by Judy Blackstone
Author: Ann Merrivale
John Hunt Publishing, 2021