I apologise, but I've slipped behind somewhat recently. Have just finished reading Can Any Mother Help Me?
and echo all your thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed it and similarly found it compulsive reading which, for a work of non-fiction, is quite unusual for me.
I found it fascinating seeing what was different to today: size of families, domestic arrangements (yes, no dishwashers and some of them had very little help but others had cooks, nannies and maids!) and obstetric arrangements (no fathers present at the birth for example). However I was also struck with what remained the same: divorce, feelings of frustration at being an intelligent woman 'trapped' in the home etc. - I suppose the common thread of humanity that runs through all generations of mothers.
As someone brought up in a post-feminist generation, some of the conditions and attitudes the women faced served as a keen reminder of the need for women's liberation and the desperate need for change. This was particularly so in the arena of women and work, and so good to see so many of the women becoming successful in this area.
I agree that the writing was of a high standard due it being self-selecting but I was still impressed by it, bearing in mind the variety of educational and class backgrounds covered within the group. I wonder if such a collection of persons were gathered together today the level of written communication would be as high?
I also really liked each woman having a pseudonym. I couldn't quite work out why this was necessary but it was a lovely way of capturing a snapshot of each woman's character. Perhaps we should try it on this blog?!
Val, in answer to your question of a few months ago (!), regarding John Banville's, The Sea:
no I didn't enjoy it that much. I didn't find it hard going, just slow and thought it was poetry at the expense of plot.
Will endeavour to get the next book read quicker this time and catch up with you all!