Inspirational female authors: Leni Zumas

2018 marks 100 years since women were legally able to vote and to celebrate this we are reviewing one book a month by an inspirational female author. So far we have reviewed Nobel prize winners, women forced to publish under male pseudonyms and some trailblazing feminist novels.

For this month I have chosen Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. It is a vision of near future America where abortions and IVF are illegal. It shows how these new laws affect four main characters: the Biographer, the Mother, the Daughter and the Mender. The Biographer is despite to have a child, but her biology and the new laws are working against her. The Mother is struggling with two children and the breakdown of her marriage. The Daughter finds herself pregnant at fifteen with no idea what to do next. And the Mender lives alone in the woods and offers treatments to the women that seek her.

This is a powerful novel that explores motherhood and a woman’s relationship to her body.  All the main characters are introduced to us not by their names but by their role to someone else, for instance mother or daughter, so it also considers the various “roles” women play. The world Zumas creates is frighteningly realistic and close to our own.

I loved the subtly unique voice of all the characters and how we gradually learn how they fit together. The plot is unpredictable and doesn’t take any easy ways out. It also doesn’t offer any easy answers to the many issues it raises.

It reminded me of The Power by Naomi Alderman, which was the first book I reviewed for the inspiration women series in March. You can read the review here.  You can also see the other previous reviews for April, May, June. July and August.

See you in November for the next review.

Philippa, Brompton Library

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