Review: The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman 

IMAG2023**** (4.5 stars)

I bought this book of short stories from Amazon, for the soul purpose of reading The Yellow Wallpaper and I am so glad that I did. The Yellow Wallpaper is a title that Charlotte Perkins Gilmans may be best known for today, as this is actually a semi-autobiographical short story, which she wrote after suffering from a severe bout of post-partum depression and using this as inspiration. I hate to admit this, but the first place I had heard about this story was from Pretty Little Liars and how the mental health aspect could be a hint to who A could be. Please don’t judge. But I recently saw this book on a book on a Book Haul or a Book Wrap up YouTube video and it reminded me of it, plus it sounded really good. So Amazon I went.

The copy that I have purchased is the Dover Thrift Edition, which contains seven short stories in total, including The Yellow Wallpaper, all wrapped up in 70 pages. So this was a perfect addition to my week Book-A-Thon. I would love to give each of these short stories a little individual review of their own, so that’s what I’m going to try and do, so lets see how this goes. There may contains some spoilers sorry 🙂

The first short story was, of course, The Yellow Wallpaper. This story begins with a husband, a wife and their new born baby moving into this newly rented house, with the soul intention of helping the mother (wife) overcome her depression/post partum depression that that has recently set in. It is believed by her husband, who is also a doctor, that by getting away from friends and family, getting some fresh air, no working, exercises, and staying in this house, will help with her “temporary nervous depression“. What I loved about this story was how it was built up and created and even though it was just a 15 page story, it was executed perfectly. You get to see how everything her husband and doctor thought was going to be good for her and make her better, was actually the worse thing for her and was the thing that made her worse. That even when she tried to discuss certain aspects, he would not listen to her and talk about it, or do something as simple as change rooms. This story was written from a first-person perspective, which just made this story that much better because it’s exactly how it should be written and expressed. How else do you express and portray depression, or post partum depression, than through your own words, thoughts and feelings? It’s just done so perfectly and I’m so glad and happy that I’ve finally read this story.

The next story in this book I read was, Three Thanksgivings. This story took me a while too get into, if I’m being honest, which is a strange thing to say when talking about a short story that’s only 11 pages, but by the time I got to the end of this tale, I had a big smile on my face. What I liked about this story is what you can do when you put your mind to it, that you don’t need a man and that you are never too old. Now that might sound vague, but I feel like I gave away too much with The Yellow Wallpaper, so now I need to hold back on the spoilers.

Following this story came The Cottagette. To me, while reading this story, the beginning started of somewhat like a fairytale. You get this couple, Malda and Ford, whom you believe are in love, purchasing this “Cottagette” out in the woods, named so because of its size, which has just one big room and two small rooms coming off of it. Its pretty simple, and just about had a bathroom with working pipes in it, but it was perfect for them and suited their needs. Malda is then told, as if by society, that if she wants Ford to love her and marry her, that she needs to change and become more domestic, as this is what every man wants. Wanting to keep Ford and make him love her more, Malda changed the house to fit a new kitchen area and changed herself, becoming more domesticated, believing this is what was right, as this is what society was telling her. Was society right? Is that what Ford really wanted? Did he want a more domesticated Malda or did he want the Malda he first fell in love with?

The next story I read was Turned. This was a story that had me gripped again and had me reading every word right up until the end, waiting to find out everything that was going to happen. This story can get you thinking about certain things, how little can be thought of women, of a child, of a wife, but then it can also make you realise how strong you can become. How you can take something so negative and unexpected and turn it around and make into something positive, or at least a little less negative. There is a quote within this story, which is one of the ones that sums up this story for me; “‘This is the sin of man against woman,’ she said. ‘The offense is against womanhood. Against motherhood. Against-the child’“.

The next story in this book that I read was Making A Change. This story reminded me alot of The Yellow Wallpaper in a number of ways. From the way the wife/new mother (Julia) is with the baby, to the way the husband (Frank) is towards the wife. But, there was another presence in this story, Mrs. Gordins, Julias’ mothering law, who Julia is finally able to confide in and in the end find help in, with a well kept secret and plan between them both. This not only works out perfectly for Julia, but also for Mrs. Gordins herself, but the question is, what does Frank think of it all? See I didn’t spoil it all. . . When I did come to the end of this story, I did really enjoy it and was one of the ones I remember fondly. 

The next story in this book was, If I Was A Man. I have to admit that I read this story twice, because the first time I read it I just skim read it and when it came to reviewing this story, I completely forgot what it was about, so I had to reread it. So on my second read I was completely shocked at myself. How could I not have paid attention the first time around? I suppose that if I missed the beginning then I may have missed what this main aspect of this story was about, but during my second read I was hooked. Have you ever wished that you were the opposite gender? (Being neutral ;)) Well that’s what Mollie Mathewson always did when it came to her husband, Gerald. Only one day she is shocked when it actually happens and she becomes her husband Gerald Mathewson. However, she starts thinking and feeling like a man does, and while having all of her own memories, she also has her husbands memories which are the ones that are important while being in his body, as she in now, in fact, a man. I wonder what, if anything, Mollie will learn and take from this experience. 

The last story in this book was, Mr Peebles’ Heart. What a story to finish this book of stories on. I will admit, yet another confession, that while reading this story, I thought that this was going to take a different turn. I am so glad that I was wrong! I really enjoyed this story. I don’t want to give away too much with this story, as I feel because these stories as quite short, that my reviews might be containing spoilers. So I’m sorry for that. So what I will say is; a visit from a sister-in-law changes everything. 

 All in all, I really enjoyed this book of short stories, especially the main story, The Yellow Wallpaper. There were some other stories that really stood out to me, such as; Turned, Making A Change and Mr Peebles’ Heart. I am so glad that I have finally read The Yellow Wallpaper and have this book in my collection, and I am even looking into more of her work, stories and her life as this just doesn’t seem to be enough. I love it, but as there were one or two I didn’t enjoy as much, that’s why I rated it 4.5 stars out of 5 (and now I hate myself and I wish I could rate each one individually). 

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