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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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Gospel for 21st century

Buying this book for every woman I know and hoping for the end of plague so I can meet Elizabeth Lesser at some literary festival and chat to her.

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a book to build on.

This is a book everyone should read - people of all gender. it's the kind of book which can set a foundation for a new kind of world. beautifully read, with humour and gentleness.

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Phenomenal

I felt like I was being led around my own history that I did not know about. Beautiful, eloquent, challenging, brave, fierce, intelligent, and compassionate. It is rare that I read a book that changes my life but this one has.

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started off well

the book started off well, looking at reinterpretation of old stories and myths about women, but I lost interest by the end as it became too self helpy

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Inspired

Thank you for reminding women that we do have a voice and a choice to use it for good. I feel truly inspired. Thank you

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Wonderful book; could and should change the world!

Absolutely LOVED this book - activism as it should be - compassionate, relatable, intelligent, and IMPORTANT. Resonated so deeply with me, so timely, so gentle, so POWERFUL. A book that women AND men will enjoy. I hope that parents will take this vital message on board and pass these wise words on to their children, as I intend to.

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Excellent!

I loved it. A beautiful book peppered with great quotes and insights, which l look to reading again and again.

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Recommended listening for all women

Wow. So powerful. Learnt so much. I got through this audio so quickly. Highly recommend. So many gold nuggets.

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A wonderful book

Very insightful and what I liked was that although it is from a women’s perspective much respect was afforded to men. It isn’t a book bashing men just a useful narration on how things conks have been different. Loved every minute.

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Unputdownable. Unforgettable

Powerful, thought provoking and validating. This book lit a hundred fairy lights in my brain.
Plus, Xe Sands is a fabulous narrator - I could listen to her for hours.

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  • jamie gass
  • 12-11-20

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
  • 19-11-20

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.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Drea Weiner
  • 20-02-21

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.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Myriam
  • 15-11-20

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.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Marlene Hilborn
  • 09-11-20

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
  • 29-12-20

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
  • 23-11-20

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
  • 23-11-20

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
  • 19-11-20

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
  • 22-11-20

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