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This collection of graceful and uncompromising essays charts her development as a feminist writer and critic, which has culminated in such groundbreaking works as reiventing womanhood and writing a woman’s life. Shakespeare’s Gertrude was first among many literary figures illuminated by Heilbrun’s feminist sensibility. Others include Homer’s Penelope – an archetypal single parent, weaving herself a new life for which she was given no script; Jo in ‘Littel women’, a model of autonomy for generations of female readers; Elizabeth Bennet, remarkable for the promise of friendship in her marriage with Darcy; and Harrriet Vane, outrageously unique on many counts. The consistency and clarity of Heilbrun’s vision in matched only by its heterogeneity, as she discusses Margaret Mead and Freud’s daughters, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, resistance to feminist studies in academia, mothers and daughters, fiction and myth, tomboys and surrogate sons, and the detective story, of which Heibrun herself (as Amanda Cross) is one of the ablest practitioners. ‘Hamlet’s mother and other women’ will spark recognition, again and again, in readers on their own quest for female redefinition.