The Heart of A Woman

The Heart of A Woman

Book - 1997
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In The Heart of a Woman Maya Angelou leaves California with her son, Guy, to go to New York. There she enters the society and world of black artists and writers. Not since her childhood has she lived in an almost black environment, and she is surprised at the obsession her new friends have with the white world around them. She stays for a while with John and Grace Killens and begins to read her writing at the Harlem Writers Guild. She continues to sing, most notably at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, but more and more she begins to take part in the struggle of black Americans for their rightful place in the world. She helps organize a benefit cabaret for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and then is appointed Martin Luther Kings Northern Coordinator.

Shortly after that, through her friend Abbey Lincoln, she takes one of the lead parts in Genet's The Blacks (it was a remarkable cast, including Godfrey Cambridge, Roscoe Lee Brown, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Raymond St. Jacques, and Lou Gossett), and even writes music for the production.

In the meantime her personal life has taken a tempestuous turn. She has left the New York bail bondsman she was intending to marry and has fallen in love with a South African freedom fighter named Vusumzi Make, who sweeps her off her feet and eventually takes her to London and then to Cairo, where, as her marriage begins to break up, she becomes the first female editor of the English-language magazine.

The Heart of a Woman is filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous people, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, but perhaps most important is the story of Maya Angelou's relationship with her son. Because this book chronicles, finally, the joys and the burdens of a black mother in America and how the son she had cherished so intensely and worked for so devotedly finally grows to be a man.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 1997, c1981.
ISBN: 9780375500725
0375500723
Characteristics: 272 pages ;,22 cm.

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h
hannabanana_2
Jan 23, 2017

She is one of the greatest writers ever! She has a way with words that makes me want to read more. This is the second of the 5 autobiographies she wrote that captures me, not so much with the story, but with the way it is written. I Know Why a Cage Bird Sings is the best of her books by far, but this is second best on the list. Her descriptions are second to none. I can sense what she senses.
I appreciate her insight into the heart of a black woman. Her honesty is refreshing, although disappointing. We have to live with each other. It is better to understand than to judge what people think and feel. It makes me want to have more interaction with a wider range of people to better understand and be understood. I never felt threatened by her or her thoughts, but realized we can never stop trying to welcome diversity.

m
michelle_mcgrath
Jan 04, 2017

The beginning of this book was incredibly intriguing and kept me wanting more, but by the end of the book I felt that what was in the heart of this woman was lacking. She showed almost no emotions, I expected to find so much more feeling in the heart of a woman. What I did notice is that she went from a phase of having white friends and being accepting to thinking that white people are all blue eyed devils and there can never be any true connection because of color. This breaks my heart, any person that judges another by the color of their skin is racist.

thart Oct 19, 2011

(Read 5/2009). This installment of the series was a great read (#4 of 6). Here she is really starting to come into her own as a woman, hence the title. She goes to NYC and does a little of this and a little of that: acting, singing, dancing, and so forth. She begins by still mostly thinking of herself as a performer and using the jobs she gets to pay the bills. At a certain point, her interest in writing is sparked and she joins the Harlem Writers Guild when prompted by friends.

In this book, she is discussing her life at the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, so, we see how she became active in the Civil Rights movement. She eventually ends up running an office for the SCLC and Martin Luther King, Jr. whom she has a face to face meeting with in her office. Maya also becomes engaged to a regular "average Joe" working stiff and then promptly drops him for another man, basically almost the 1st night she meets him. She ends up marrying this African activist (he calls himself a "freedom fighter") who is striving hard to free South Africa (unfortunately, Apartheid was still a reality at that time).

Eventually, she moves to Africa with him and her son Guy. This marriage doesn't work out either however; he doesn't take care of bills as he promises, and Maya is far too strong willed and independent to tolerate him any further. The book ends shortly after the "divorce" events, but, not before a rather dramatic finish. Guy, being kind and intelligent, drives a few drunkard friends home, only to be hit, while pulled over on the side of the road, by a rather large truck. He ends up with a near full body cast and his neck broken in three places.

Number five in the series of six, "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes," begins with further details on Guy's hospitalization and Maya's attempts to earn money and keep them in Africa.

c
Cabby
Nov 08, 2007

I didn't like this book and that made me feel guilty. Its hard for me to understand how a person can write 6 autobiographies - it seems a bit vain. She didn't seem like she was a good mother.

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