I am doing a long-overdue book review of Fascinating Womanhood and giving away a copy of the book as well. It’s an older edition I picked up at a thrift store, like the one pictured above, a white hardback, only it also has a bright pink dust jacket that is slightly torn. (I will tape it with clear packing tape to patch it up so it looks like new). You can get a similar used copy of this edition online or get the latest edition. It is not out of print, but the older edition is fun to get too. If you would like to know how to enjoy being feminine, how to improve the quality of your marriage and even save your marriage, please read this book. If you know that you nag or criticize your husband, please read this book. If you know that you have tons of negative feelings about your husband and they sometimes spill over to others’ ears, please read this book.
I agree with about 90% of it. Some of it seems corny, I admit, like the parts about acting childlike and stomping your feet and tossing your curls when angry.This book is rather polarizing. People seem to either love it or hate it, including at least two of my friends, which I wrote about here. If you hate it, I suggest you read it again and look for the underlying principles for whatever bugs you about it. Like the part about stomping your feet and tossing your curls in a childlike way if you are angry. That’s a specific behavior Mrs. Andelin suggests, but the principle behind it is to break up tension in a charming way or a way that puts your husband off guard. Step back and look at it this way: the author is suggesting you find something that will ease the tension of the moment when you/and your husband are angry and fighting, something to ease the tension and preserve the dignity of both of you. If acting like a little girl makes you want to burst out laughing then maybe something else will work. It could be even something simple and direct, for instance, just stating clearly how you feel when your husband does such and such. Then drop it and move on.
I really like Helen Andelin’s model of the ideal female called Angela Human. Angela Human inspires celestial love. Whoever doesn’t like this book or even scorns it most likely is not enjoying this deep satisfying celestial love. I learned from the book that celestial love involves not just romantic love, and love that involves admiration, but it also involves a desire to protect, worship, and sacrifice anything for. Do you feel that kind of love from your husband? Do you want to? Andelin says you wake up that aspect of love by working on the human side of Angela Human. It was fun to read all of the references to classical literature, like from Dickens’ David Copperfield.
Overall, I think the book is a great guide to increasing happiness in marriage, because it teaches that men and women are different, and how important it is to just accept your husband and make him number 1. Before you implement giving your husband praise, compliments, and sympathy, practice doing it out loud so it doesn’t sound fake, or he will be on to you.
If you scoff at the book, I invite you to take a serious look at your marriage. Are you experiencing “Celestial Love,” the love that Mrs. Andelin describes in the book? If you are, then you are probably practicing the principles of the book. If you are not, then don’t scoff, swallow your pride, and learn from the book. Mrs. Andelin takes her description of Celestial Love from Victor Hugo. Here is what he says about it:
Do I exist for my own personal happiness? No, my whole existence is devoted to her, even in spite of her. And by what right should I have dared to aspire to her love? What does it matter, so that it does not injure her happiness? My duty is to keep close to her steps, to surround her existence with mine, to serve her as a barrier against all dangers; to offer my head as a stepping stone, to place myself unceasingly between her and all sorrows, without claiming reward, without expecting recompense…Alas! If she only allow me to give my life to anticipating her every desire, all her caprices; if she but permit me to kiss with respect her adored footprints; if she but consent to lean upon me at times amidst the difficulties of life.
As an interesting aside, I am great friends with Mrs. Andelin’s great-niece, Leah, who is in my homeschooling circles. I always laugh out loud a ton when Leah is near. She told me a lot about how the book got started and what it was like to be around “Great Aunt Helen.” She said that G.A. Helen practiced what she preached. She would dress femininely. Even when camping, she would have some dainty feminine touches to her clothes, like pretty sandals. Leah said she used to ask Helen, “What do you do about all these people (feminists who were angry about the book) who write mean and nasty stuff about you?” Helen responded with, “I just feel sorry for them that they will never feel the joy that I am feeling.” That joy is Celestial Love.
Another interesting aside: Mrs. Andelin wrote a sequel to the book, called The Fascinating Girl. I actually read that book when I was 17 or 18 and I thought it was cheesy and rather unrealistic for the modern feminist world. Maybe if I had applied the principles, I would have had more fun with guys, in a wholesome way, in high school. That’s when I thought they were all silly and immature. Then in college, at least the first year, I was just not interested in guys. I really didn’t know anything about flirting and looking back, I feel like I missed out! I found a copy of FG at the same thrift store and gave it to my daughter when she was 16 or so. She has devoured it! She took it with her to college, and she has actually applied the principles and has had no problem getting dates. So apparently it is not unrealistic advice for a single girl in this post modern world. She loves knowing these “secrets” and has been sharing them with her roommates.
Some people have created a documentary about Mrs. Andelin, which you can get the details about here. For $22 you can get viewing rights to see it on youtube.com. Sounds fascinating, ha-ha! Here is more about Leah shared with me and other tidbits I found from researching the book.
I am giving away the copy of the Fascinating Womanhood book, copyright 1963, that I picked up at the thrift store. Please comment below if you are interested in entering for a chance of winning the random drawing. I will announce the winner on Monday March 9, 2015.