A second-year doctoral student from a Midwestern family, Frye is twenty-three when she marries a German professor ten years her senior. Previously sheltered, Frye seeks new vistas but instead finds herself confined by the demands of her life: wife to a volatile and domineering husband, mother of two young daughters, and aspiring academic. With her dissertation completed, she finally realizes that the only way to wrest her identity and freedom from her husband’s grip is by leaving him; she boards a bus with her two young children to embark on a new life.
In Biting the Moon, Frye powerfully recounts her struggle for independence and a successful career while remaining devoted to her daughters. Despite the many promises of the women’s movement—liberation from domestic work and the ability to influence social policy—she wrestles with the complex, often ambivalent, relationship between feminism and motherhood. Interwoven with literary references from Charlotte Brontë to Virginia Woolf to Tillie Olsen, Biting the Moon invites the reader along on Frye’s quest for self-expression and a life beyond the shadows of others. This deeply felt, courageous portrait of a woman’s life will be intimately familiar to an older generation of mothers and an inspiration to a younger generation.
Joanne Frye is professor emerita of English and women's studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. She is the author of Living Stories, Telling Lives: Women and the Novel in Contemporary Experience and Tillie Olsen: A Study of the Short Fiction.