Burning Woman, by Lucy H. Pearce, Womancraft Publishing, pp. 240, £10.99 (paperback)
Designed to teach, inspire and empower generations of women who suffer from a deep internal burning; Burning Woman is a non-fictional, controversial exploration into how shame and guilt permeates the female identity. A book that gets to the very heart of a universal feminine affliction.
Published in 2016, Lucy H. Pearce’s Burning Woman is one of her seven books which specialises in the field of the feminine. Despite being published just over two years ago, the timeless book remains relevant for generations of women past, present and future. As a writer, Lucy guides women to reconnect and harness their intuitive yet deeply suppressed female power. Her tone fits perfectly with Womancraft Publishing’s overall ethos: to celebrate ‘paradigm shifting books by women for women.’
Before venturing further into the contents of the book, it would seem an injustice to not speak on the beautiful and captivating cover art by Robin Lea Quinlivan. Titled ‘Waiting to Fly,’ the artwork encapsulates the books pivotal theme of lifting oneself from restraints. We witness a rising phoenix, illustrated with vibrant oranges, reds and yellows – perfectly preparing the reader for the novels contents.
Burning Woman is separated into twelve chapters flowing seamlessly into one another. Without revealing too much; the book begins by defining the Burning Woman archetype, leading to how femininity is scorned and suppressed by patriarchal power, until finally offering insight into how we can build a positive relationship with our feminine essences. Each chapter concludes with exercises for those who feel inspired, or perhaps experimental, and wish to take their reading experience further. At it’s core, the book is a manual on how to cultivate, nurture and release the innate power in our feminine roots, without it being destructive.
Though the novel centres around femininity, it would be misguided to assume that men are excluded from Burning Woman. Lucy gives space to the male perspective in her third chapter titled ‘The Masculine Dark,’ with its subsections ‘The Dark Arts of The Patriarchy,’ ‘Fear,’ and ‘Shame’. Lucy reminds readers that feminine exists within the masculine, as depicted by the Chinese Ying and Yang, or Carl Jung’s Anima and Animus. The feminine essence innate to man undergoes the same burning from shame and guilt that constitutes a woman’s existence in patriarchy.
As the nature of the book is an investigation into the relationship between feminine power and shame, Lucy draws upon many spiritual and intellectual speakers alongside her own experiences, to give a detailed and thorough perspective. The book offers a comforting community of men and women who challenge patriarchal conventions, including psychoanalyst Carl Jung, Activist Leymah Gbowee, and Author/psychologist Clarissa Pinkola Estes of Women Who Run with the Wolves. Thus, Burning Woman satisfies our appetite for resistance, which, prior to reading, we may not know we had.
It comes as no surprise that the book received the Nautilus Silver Award in 2017 in the woman’s section, as well as being an Amazon bestseller. Spoken in the first person (sometimes plural for affect), Lucy’s tone is engaging and informal; ironically fiery at times, and extremely stripped back as she delves into the deep and existential topic of the female identity. Though the opening suffers with a somewhat slow and repetitive start, Lucy makes up for this as the narrative quickly builds momentum.
Lucy’s fifth chapter titled ‘The Feminine Dark’ is a particular favourite of mine, with the subsections ‘Initiations into Darkness’, ‘Journeys to the Underworld’, ‘Going Dark’, ‘Womb Space – Feminine Heart of Darkness’, ‘The Unconscious’, and ‘Dreams and Visions’. This chapter gets to the very root of female suffering; one of her faster-paced sections, Lucy explores the negative influence of patriarchal attitudes, re-defining our dark selves – which we are taught to fear – as transformative.
It is difficult to fully articulate the experience of reading Burning Woman. Beautiful words by a beautiful soul; Lucy H. Pearce takes the reader on a journey of unlocking and empowering the hidden and oppressed parts of the female psyche. I like to view the book as a gateway, an introduction into the grand and complex world of the feminine unconscious, and its archetypes. The beginning of the journey to understanding one’s self.
For those who enjoy Lucy’s exploration of the feminine, Burning Woman’s sister book titled Medicine Woman: Reclaiming the Soul of Healing is scheduled to be released this October.
Words by Briony Willis.
For more information and to purchase Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce, Visit Womancraft Publishing.
To discover more content exclusive to our print and app editions, subscribe here to receive 6 journals a year from The London Magazine, and full access to our extensive digital archive.
Want to be published in the UK’s oldest literary review? Enter our Short Story Prize.