Maya Angelou has fascinated, moved, and inspired countless readers with the first three volumes of her autobiography, one of the most remarkable personal narratives of our age. Now, in her fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman, her turbulent life breaks wide open with joy as the singer-dancer enters the razzle-dazzle of fabulous New York City. There, at the Harlem Writers Guild, her love for writing blazes anew.
Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's history-making quest. A tempestuous, earthy woman, she promises her heart to one man only to have it stolen, virtually on her weding day, by a passionate African freedom fighter.
Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou's eloquent prose -- her fondest dreams, deepest disappointments, and her dramatically tender relationship with her rebellious teenage son. Vulnerable, humorous, tough, Maya speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.
From the Paperback edition.
Oprah Book Club® Selection, May 1997:
Maya Angelou has had more lives than the proverbial cat, and in The Heart of a Woman
she continues the account of her remarkable life begun in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
. In the first book of her bestselling autobiographical series, she describes her traumatic childhood in the small, segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas, during the 1930s. Gather Together in My Name
picks up the story in the postwar years, when Maya, a single teenager with an infant son becomes, in short order, a cook, a madam, a dancer, and a prostitute. Next comes Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas,
an account of her twenties and her unsuccessful first marriage to a white man. The Heart of a Woman,
the fourth in the series, takes us through one of the most exciting and formative periods of Angelou's amazing life: her beginnings as a writer and an activist in New York.
Angelou has a happy knack of attracting the best and the brightest into her orbit, and The Heart of a Woman offers a veritable cornucopia of black luminaries in its pages. Singer Billie Holiday, writers John Ellins and Paule Marshall, jazz musicians Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, and actors Godfrey Cambridge and James Earl Jones--Maya meets and learns from them all. Political activism soon follows as Ms. Angelou first organizes a theatrical benefit for the Reverend Martin Luther King and then becomes the director of the New York Southern Christian Leadership Conference office. Her involvement in the civil rights movement eventually brings her into contact with African freedom fighters Oliver Tambo and the charming Vusumzi Make, whom she marries and follows to Africa.
The Heart of a Woman is as honest, painful, funny, outraged, and outrageous as Angelou herself. From her debut at the Apollo Theatre to her meeting with Malcolm X, Maya Angelou gives us something to cheer about and plenty to ponder as well.