Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book & Movie Explore Challenges of Marriage

Doris Lessing in her 1950 novel, "The Grass is Singing," many of Edith Wharton's stories, and the recent movie "The Painted Veil" explore the tragic consequences of the socially upheld expectation of women to marry. In today's culture, women still feel compelled to "make a good match" even if they consider themselves modern or progressive.

Kitty Garstin, played by Naomi Watts in the 2006 film "The Painted Veil" was confronted by her family who implied that they no longer wished to financially support her and that it was time for her to get married, thus becoming someone else's burden. This film was set in the 1920's and Kitty did not have the skills and society did not have the infrastructure to allow a woman of her class to earn her own income and thereby support herself. Kitty's only path to "independence" was to get married, even if she didn't want to, or as in this case, was not in love with her suitor. Her marriage led her on a downward tailspin to the bleak, grim lands of inner China to a town decimated by a cholera outbreak. Left here, isolated from her previous life, Kitty is forced to not only grow up but to also forge her own path and identity.

Doris Lessing's female character, Mary Turner of "The Grass is Singing" does not fare as well as Kitty Garstin. The story opens with her murder and then back tracks to how she arrived at such a fatal ending. Mary Turner was unlike Kitty, and more like some of Edith Wharton's women, she worked and supported herself even if the income was meager. Mary Turner was successful with her office job and socially successful. She was happy and independent until she overheard some of her friends criticizing her for remaining single. Mary felt shame at their stigma, as if being single meant that she was incomplete or undesirable, instead of single by her own choice. Many women still experience this same stigma today. They hear exclamations like "Why is a nice girl like you still single?"

Mary, like Kitty, enters into a hostile, brutal married environment. It isn't that the husbands are horrible but where they live as the result of their marriage leaves them isolated. Edith Wharton's women also often leave a life of some independence to get married and "become fulfilled and respectable" only to find themselves in a bitter, often devastating struggle to survive. (Read "The Age of Innocence" and "Bunner Sisters")

Women's literature often explores the reconciliation of individual identity and marriage (whether it is one filled with love or not).

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About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Exploring the Dim Recesses of Our Imagination

Have you struggled to express an idea because you felt that others would think you were crazy? Have you ever thought that if others could read your thoughts they would think you were a freak? The creators of the movie "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" imagine how famous American photographer, Diane Arbus felt about her art and her private world.

Movie Review: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
2006 film starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downing Jr.

According to this film, Diane Arbus considered herself a freak because of the inner workings of her mind. Diane (played by Nicole Kidman) personifies her inner struggles, her inner voice and inner vision which finally led to her artistic expression. Robert Downing Jr. is disguised under a full body of fur. Downing, representing Diane’s core self, is afflicted with a hair growth condition that makes him a side show freak and an outcast. Diane slowly develops a relationship with this outcast and learns how to transform him into a public representation – her art.

The film is a little slow but it is still a fascinating, strange depiction of a woman's insistence on discovering and bringing forth her true identity. If you feel that you have dark aspects of your personality that are better left untouched and private then you may enjoy this film and Diane's struggle. She finally found the courage to manifest herself even though the process was painful.

The movie does not claim to be a biography but rather an imaginary portrait. Its portrayal is like a fantasy and reminds me of the way M. Night Shaymalan tells stories.

Diane Arbus was an American photographer who died in 1971. Her work focused on people who would not normally be featured in a photograph. She photographed transvestites, dwarfs, and people who were in odd poses. Her photograph of two twin girls, one looking somber the other one slightly happy, was the inspiration for the twin girls in the movie The Shining. A copy of the “Identical Twins” sold for $500,000 in 2005.*

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*Source cited:

About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reinventing Yourself, Changing Your Destiny – Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith book review

When we claim a moment to be magical, we feel as if that moment transcends our normal experiences, our ingrained rules, and our cultural outcomes. Magic raises us out of skepticism slowly but if it is good enough, we become fervent believers.

Magic realism is a literary term describing how a story is told. The stories are grounded in reality but some characters have "supernatural" or larger-than-life abilities. With magical realism, women can take flight with dewy, velvet wings, fleeing a life that only had one outcome by trying to escape her iron-clad destiny.

Authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera - which was just released as a movie) and Isabel Allende (author of The House of Spirits) and Gina B. Nahai (author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith) are some authors who write magical realism. Gina Nahai's character, Roxanna the Angel, took flight from a generational destiny and from Tehran where a woman's ability to escape her fate is so difficult that she must don silky white wings and leap from a balcony with all the faith that she will land softly in a new place.

"Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith" is a powerful, compelling, and fascinating novel depicting several women's lives, women who refuse to meekly accept the lot they were assigned in life and women who forged a new life for themselves.

These women didn't create their new lives without sacrifice, humiliation, pain, loss, or mistakes, yet they succeeded in reinventing themselves and elevating their human experience beyond the level of survival.

Mercedes the Movie Star used her extreme beauty to control the men who thought they controlled women. Fräulein Claude completely overhauled herself by denying her national heritage and insisting that she was of German noble descent. Alexandra the Cat also claimed a noble birth and presumed all the dignity that comes with such a claim. Roxanna the Angel literally flew away from her destiny until she could no longer avoid past and her choices.

The story is mostly about Roxanna and the effect her choices had on the people she loved, including her daughter Lili. When trying to make sense of her life and understanding her choices, Roxanna told her daughter:

"In the beginning, I tell Lili, there were many choices and I believing I was doomed, let them go to waste."

Even though Roxanna fled, she never believed she could truly escape her destiny and maintain any relationship with her family and friends - they were incompatible. This conviction led her to make devastating, painful choices.

I've heard the voices of many women who feel so trapped that they become convinced that absolute escape is the only solution. Famous female authors like Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf are two women who chose death as their reconciliation. Other women are not as extreme but they fight the chasm between who they think they should be and who they believe they are with an exhaustive force.

Do you ever feel like reinventing yourself or simply escaping? How would you do it? What would you be escaping? Is your reinvention completely incongruent with your current life?
I encourage you to read "Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith" (1999) by Gina B. Nahai to see how her characters managed their reinvention.

Gina B. Nahai was born in Iran who later moved to Los Angeles, California. She is also the author of a new book entitled "Caspian Rain," "Sunday's Silence," and "Cry of the Peacock."

--Looking for more? Visit Famiss, women making and discovering their own history

About the author: Allison Frederick is a writer and online marketing educator for other creative women. offers free Web 2.0 resources. She is also the author of an upcoming novel, A Portrait of Josephine, an academic-lite thriller. Find out how to receive a free copy of the novel by visiting

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Indian Writer Arundhati Roy Reminds Us About an Artist's Role in Society

Arundhati Roy's observation (taken from her book: Power Politics)

"Painters, writers, singers, actors, dancers, filmakers, musicians are meant to fly, to push at the frontiers, to worry the edges of the human imagination, to conjure beauty from the most unexpected things, to find magic in places where others never thought to look."

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Easy Way to Send Out Christmas Cards

I want to share a fun, inexpensive service with you. Jacquie Lawson is an excellent artist and business owner who created a service that offers animated cards that are fun and musical. The service is incredibly affordable. It costs $10 per year and you can send an unlimited number of cards.

She has a wide selection and offers great support. You receive an email when your card is sent and when it is opened. She has several Christmas and winter cards.

I hope you love her wonderful, easy, creative service as much as I do. Click here to access her electronic greeting card website.