Book Review. I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman.

40 women locked inside a cage are watched over by guards. There is one young girl amongst the women, who learns to think and question the reality of their lives. An event occurs, the guards vanish, and fortune favours the women in this cage, as theirs happened to have been in the process of being unlocked as this event occurred. They are free. They have few memories of before, as they explore their world beyond the cage. They discover they were not the only women to be locked inside a cage.

I loved I Who Have Never Known Men, a fictional story that was first published in 1995, in French.

The author Jacqueline Harpman was born in Belgium, in 1929, and being Jewish she, and her family, fled to France to escape the Nazi’s during the second world war. She was training to be a doctor, but contracted tuberculosis and this may have prompted her turning to writing. She did eventually qualify as a psychoanalyst, after having her first book published in 1958.

Unlike with a previous book I read, Everything you ever Wanted by Luiza Sauma, I didn’t mind that this book had more questions than answers. Such as: is this Earth? And what has happened to it for it to be a post-apocalyptic landscape, with infrequent weathers and no animals? How did the women come to be in cages, is this all a metaphor? The writing was so good as well. I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while to come.

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  1. 2022 Books Roundup – Poetic Insights Avatar
    2022 Books Roundup – Poetic Insights

    […] HL R, and Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird. I read a lot of great books in the summer, like I Who Have Never Known Men, The Weather in the Streets, and A Curious History of Sex. Also a book I could never write a review […]


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