Kate Chopin's book The Awakening came in an edition that had a few hundred pages of critical notes, discussions of what society was like at the time, etc. The text itself was only 109 pages. I'm glad that that other stuff was included though because I think I would have missed some important nuances.
Edna Pontellier is a proper Southern lady who gradually comes to realize how limiting her existence is. Society places all these restrictions on her. She gradually works to be free of them. In some ways I agree and see why she has the feelings that she does. I also think, however, that women of that level of wealth at that time were comparatively lucky. Many women had to struggle to feed their families and care for them. It doesn't necessarily mean that the challenges of women like Mrs. Pontellier shouldn't be considered, just that they were lucky to be able to consider higher issues such as women's roles in society. I also didn't like how Mrs. Pontellier kind of abandoned her children and husband. Even if they were part of the social order that was causing her to feel so troubled, I kind of was sad that she discarded them so easily.
Anyway, definitely an important book and I'm glad I read it.