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Publisher's Summary

What story would Eve have told about picking the apple? Why is Pandora blamed for opening the box? And what about the fate of Cassandra who was blessed with knowing the future but cursed so that no one believed her? What if women had been the storytellers? 

Elizabeth Lesser believes that if women’s voices had been equally heard and respected throughout history, humankind would have followed different hero myths and guiding stories - stories that value caretaking, champion compassion, and elevate communication over vengeance and violence. 

Cassandra Speaks is about the stories we tell and how those stories become the culture. It’s about the stories we still blindly cling to, and the ones that cling to us: the origin tales, the guiding myths, the religious parables, the literature and films and fairy tales passed down through the centuries about women and men, power and war, sex and love, and the values we live by. Stories written mostly by men with lessons and laws for all of humanity. We have outgrown so many of them, and still they endure. This book is about what happens when women are the storytellers too - when we speak from our authentic voices, when we flex our values, when we become protagonists in the tales we tell about what it means to be human. 

Lesser has walked two main paths in her life - the spiritual path and the feminist one - paths that sometimes cross but sometimes feel at cross-purposes. Cassandra Speaks is her extraordinary merging of the two. The best-selling author of Broken Open and Marrow, Lesser is a beloved spiritual writer, as well as a leading feminist thinker. In this book, she gives equal voice to the cool water of her meditative self and the fire of her feminist self. With her trademark gifts of both humor and insight, she offers a vision that transcends the either/or ideologies on both sides of the gender debate.

Brilliantly structured into three distinct parts, Part One explores how history is carried forward through the stories a culture tells and values, and what we can do to balance the scales. Part Two looks at women and power and expands what it means to be courageous, daring, and strong. And Part Three offers “A Toolbox for Inner Strength”. Lesser argues that change in the culture starts with inner change, and that no one - woman or man - is immune to the corrupting influence of power. She provides inner tools to help us be both strong-willed and kind-hearted.

Cassandra Speaks is a beautifully balanced synthesis of storytelling, memoir, and cultural observation. Women, men, and all people will find themselves in this book, and will come away strengthened, opened, and ready to work together to create a better world for all people. 

©2020 Elizabeth Lesser (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Cassandra Speaks

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approach avoidance

This absolutely should be read by everyone. By women with caution: it enrages our Cassandras.

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Must read!

Greta book that every person must read! At it seems obvious by the title what this story is going to be about however Lesser goes deeper and opens up a very important dialogue that we all must have! Recommended to all my friends.

1 person found this helpful

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Forgettable

Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser

Is topically forgettable.

For those listening to it, the narrator reads it like it’s a novel, and that makes many of the points loose it’s impact.

Really I need to preface this review with this is not what I thought this book was about. And for that I am disappointed. I thought it was about myths and how they relate and change our everyday images of women and society.

It is not.

In general it is about Lesser’s experience, her work at the Omega institutes, studies of how women communicate, ways to change societies to make it better. There is an entire section about war metaphors and idioms.

It was a good book but this being my month of myth and folklore reading I was expecting more background and insight into Cassandra, Eve, Kali, etc. The first section does focus more on it. But later Lesser takes so much time talking about meditations, her experience traveling, work, and her father.

It’s honestly part memoir and honouring our womanly nature that I did not sign up for.

Much of the book has been read and written before without much added or bolstered by Lesser. We certainly did not need another “how to” be a leaven woman.

Some concepts were good, the not using war metaphors, using more gardening/ baking ones instead seem fun. Making conscious efforts in who’s quotes we use. All valid. Did I need to hear it again, and again. No.

Did I want to hear the history, retelling, and impacts of certain myths on our cultures and others? Yes.

Part of this book also seems a little out of date, a little “another generation” and a little too insulated and not grounded in my reality or the reality I see on the news. It certainly tried to be intersectional, and that’s because it was too autobiographical to accomplish that

This book is for people that enjoy autobiographical self-help books that try to be too nice, too appealing to be of any interest or real impact.


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Empowering

After listening to this book I'm not afraid to use the word empower anymore. An incredible read!

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Great content, to read.

I'm really appreciating the respect the author has for all genders and the way she sees us going forward together, this is not about denigrating males or masculinity. Stories are used to highlight key views and moments along our historical path which led to the institutions that are in place now.

Knowing how we got where we are is bringing a deeper awareness to the filter on how I see things, and where I might start showing up differently (and I haven't even got to the part where it tells us how to do it yet). I will update at the end.

Audiobook note: I am sensitive to the tone of narration and while the content is delivered clearly, I'm distracted by how it's read versus being lost in the content as inflections seem exaggerated and pauses are out of place (to me).

The book is certainly worth reading or listening to, I still recommend it in either format.

update: the suggestions on how to be a part of the progressive change that we need to make are great and the strong back/soft front meditation was already a favorite and she brings deeper meaning to it. I will get the book to reread.

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A must read

A powerful book, one I will read more than once. I have already recommended it to the important people in my life.

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A powerful message for creating a new world

Elizabeth Lesser is compassionate and passionate guide for all genders and we begin to dream and create this new world of equality, nurturing and growth. Built on year of witnessing, studying and working with some of the greatest minds and ideas of our time she weaves them with history and facts to help us see clearly where we are and why we are frustrated but also how to change the narrative and find and share all our collective strengths and gifts for a new future. This audible version in her voice is beautifully read with heartfelt moments where I literally felt the power of her prose and also the stirrings in my heart. This book inspires action and was my perfect start to the new year.

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All Humans must read - especially women!

Excellent content. I will recommend to ALL the men and women in my life, and especially those interested in a broader perspective on what it means to be human!

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A book everyone should read!!!

I loved this book. I think womxn and men of all backgrounds would benefit from reading this book.

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  • jamie gass
  • 2020-11-12

Wow

This book helped me understand things about me I didn’t even know I didn’t know. Every woman who has felt lost, confused or frustrated with how they have been treated, or how they find themselves reacting to certain situations should read this.

Every man who says they want women to feel like they are equals should read this book.

Maybe, just maybe, it could help to change the footing between men and women.

44 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 2020-11-19

Wonderful!

I loved this book. I’m giving it to several young women I know for the holidays. I’m 58 and live in the northeast but was raised in the South in a deeply religious, patriarchal family. This book is helping with my healing from the brainwashing I encountered in my family and in organized religion.
The narrator was excellent.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Drea Weiner
  • 2021-02-20

The premise is great; I struggled as a Millennial

The importance of women telling their stories and hearing how stories like Cassandra and Pandora can be told to empower rather than to shame and blame women was a wonderful call to action. I did struggle with the author's observations about men and parenting because it felt patronizing coming from a generation where my male friends are stepping up to be proactive parents in their children's lives. This did not distract from talking points around the need to be aware of language and how it impacts ourselves and those we interact with or the other actionable items mentioned within the book.

This isn't necessarily the best book for someone beginning their journey on womanism. A basic understanding is needed so that the reader may be open to the discussion points within the book especially if this isn't their lived experience.

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  • Myriam
  • 2020-11-15

Nice

The book is ok. I think I had expectations of the stories more than the author explaining what we should be doing as women. Feels more like a self help book. Has great told bots of information but as a whole, I struggled to stay engaged.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Marlene Hilborn
  • 2020-11-09

This Book!

This Book?
This is one of those books you never forget the first time you read it; You remember where you were when you read it, how each chapter was like discovering a new flavor as a child, and what your life was like at the time you first read this book. This is one of ‘those’ books. This is the book you want in hard copy for your library. This is one of those books you want to buy all your friends. This is one of those books you want to listen to, reread, highlight, flag, share, discuss and use for years to come, to remind yourself, about what’s in THIS BOOK!
My heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth Lesser for writing this book.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-12-29

love it

one amazing book :) the origin story part left me with goosebumps and rethinking the embedded stories in our culture. "History isn't what happened. It's who tells the story" - this Roesch Wagner quote writer mentioned kept me thinking a lot. Much recommended

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  • BB
  • 2020-11-23

Devoured it!

As a mythologist, I love story as a doorway into deeper personal exploration. Cassandra Speaks unpacks a few of the foundational stories that set modern misogyny on its course and offers practices to help us grow and heal from the messages internalized from these stories. I hope modern people everywhere will read or listen to this book so we can all move forward with new interpretations of these bedrock stories and start to build societies upon more balanced foundations.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Amber Miller
  • 2020-11-23

Unlike anything I've ever read!

This book has quite possibly become my all time favorite. Thank you for opening my eyes and heart, I must share this with the world!

9 people found this helpful

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  • andrea
  • 2020-11-19

Powerful Book!

I feel so grateful to Elizabeth Lesser and her circle of women for doing the work to write and share this powerful and incredibly important book. The message is clear, kind, empowering and timely - for women, for our world, it’s current events and shifts, as well as for me personally. #gratitude

8 people found this helpful

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  • Yogi Dawn
  • 2020-11-22

Empowering book!!!

Absolutely loved it!!! Reccomend everyone to read!!! I feel so empowered and encouraged. I'm going to buy it for so many women!

7 people found this helpful

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  • AD
  • 2021-02-23

Word choice

I noticed something the first time I listened to this book : the use of PTSD as a joking exaggeration of how scared she was giving a TED talk. I highly recommend changing that word, as it's very triggering to people who experienced actual trauma. It's great that we as a society are becoming more familiar with the term, but overusing it banalizes it for people who are actually suffering.