Inspirational female authors – International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, 8 March, is a date to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. It all began over a century ago and today it is observed all over the world. It is also a day to reflect on improving gender equality and for 2019 the theme is #BalanceforBetter.

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At Brompton library, we have been celebrating the literary achievement of women with a series of book reviews. Since International Women’s Day in 2018, I have been doing regular reviews of books by inspirational female authors. In total I have read eleven books by eleven amazing female writers. It is hard to pick a favourite because the books are all so different and written in different styles.

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I loved some of the books because of their subject matter or the worlds they created. There are the feminist dystopias of The Power, The Water Cure and Red Clocks which comment on gender equality in our own society. There is Helen Dunmore’s novel that explores how a female writer from the eighteenth century could be completely forgotten by history. Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood’s novels reimagine classic myths and fairy tales from a feminist perspective.

I found some of the books inspirational because of their authors. Such as Zadie Smith, who was published at a young age and has gone on to win many literary awards or Toni Morrison, who was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Then there is Malala Yousafzai, who almost lost her life standing up for women’s rights.

Because the books are from different eras, it made me reflect on the journey of women’s rights. Roxane Gay’s essays are a funny and insightful look into the struggles of being a modern feminist, whereas Emily Bronte, who had to publish Wuthering Heights under a male pseudonym, is a reminder of how far we’ve come.

I hope you have been as inspired as me by these great reads! And I’m sure you can think of many more inspirational female authors to add to this list.

 

 

Inspirational female authors: Angela Carter

Since March we have been reviewing one book a month by an inspirational female author and this series will continue up until International Women’s Day next year. This month I have chosen The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter.

It can be claimed that Angela Carter changed the path of fiction with her dark tales of magical realism and her influence can be seen in generations of writers since. Her novels are famous for focusing on women’s stories and The Bloody Chamber is my personal favourite. It is a collection of reimagined fairy tales, which put female voices to the front.

The collection of short stories is quite dark, with sex and violence as key themes. But, she uses this to explore issues around conventional femininity and gender roles. The language she uses and her style of writing is beautiful, in contrast with her sometimes brutal subject matter.

I love how she explores the potential of fairy tales and how she allows her female characters to be flawed and real. I think this book is a good starting point for anyone new to Angela Carter.

Join us in January for the next review of an inspirational female author. See you in 2019!

Philippa, Brompton Library