The Many Faces of Woman (River City Press, 2001) is a unique volume of prose and poetry by six women from Southern Ontario: Delia De Santis, Venera Fazio, Peggy Fletcher, Norma West Linder, Hope Morritt and Carmen Ziolkowski. The collection includes twelve poems and twelve short stories. The editor, Marisa De Franceschi, is the author of the unsettling yet touching novel Surface Tension and the collection of short stories Family Matters.
Having demonstrated her editorial skills and her affinity for women's writing with Pillars of Lace: The Anthology of Italian-Canadian Women Writers in 1998, De Franceschi has found a remarkable way of interchanging prose and verse, emotion and reason, in The Many Faces of Woman. A poem by one of the six award-winning writers forwards and introduces the theme of each story.
Readers - women and men alike - of all ages and background will identify with many of the stories. They are about the relationships in our lives, the long-lasting, intense ones as well as the new hopeful ones. And, they are about making amends with the past in order to move towards the future as in Morritt's "The Quiet Room" and Ziolkowski's "The Line Down the Middle."
The contributors have written solid stories with strong messages; they do not shy away from putting into words that which all too often is not expressed for one reason or another. Whether it be of one's own doing or as a result of someone else's choices as in De Santis' "Abandoned Wedding Ring," "sweet-pain" is what life is all about. Morritt's character in "The Quiet Room" says it well: "Change is inevitable, you know
It's called progress." We all know that "momentary whiffs of yesterday tug gently" (Morritt) at us from time to time but, as this collection of writing illustrates through realistic characters and strong diction, we can either dwell on the past or focus on the present and keep on going towards the future.
The title, The Many Faces of Woman, refers to the subject matter and to the talented contributors whose creative expression is inspired by their many roles in daily life. In the introduction to the collection De Franceschi writes that "it is always thrilling to read what other women write, and always amazing to discover that women do indeed manage to find time to put pen to paper despite, or perhaps because of, all the other roles they play."
Marisa De Franceschi's role as editor in bringing together this book is to be commended. The collection features diverse but profound writing, which keeps the reader thinking long after the book has been put down. With a new year come new beginnings and resolutions and, for those of us who intend to make changes, reading this book is inspirational. The Many Faces of Woman is an original initiative and a welcome addition to Canadian writing.