Inspirational female authors: Sophie Mackintosh

Since International Women’s Day in March, we have been reviewing one book a month by an inspirational female author. For November I have chosen The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. It is her first novel and it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year.

It is dystopian, but very different from anything else I have read in that genre. It doesn’t really explore the fictional world she has created, but instead it focuses on three sister’s stories. Grace, Lia and Sky are separated from the rest of the world by the sea. They rely on the rituals and rules of their parents to keep them safe from the danger of men and what lies across the water.

TheWaterCure

It is a book about isolation, suffering and sisterhood. I read it quickly, eager to know what would happen. There are moments of violence but the scariest part for me was the vague, hinted at horrors that men in the outside world are inflicting on women, which are never spelled out. Even when we hear from the women themselves, we just get glimpses of what they have endured. This seems to imply that their world might not be that different to our own.

It is a strange book, dreamy but violent and harsh. What I liked most was the intense atmosphere. I also liked the relationship between the three sisters. It feels honest and their love and hatred for one another is true to life, if slightly amplified by their strange existence. I think it’s the sort of book that will divide opinion, but I found it fresh and unique.

See you in December for our next (and last!) review of a book by an inspirational female author.

Philippa, Brompton Library

Inspirational female authors: Helen Dunmore

To celebrate 2018 being the centenary of women’s right to vote, we are reviewing one book a month by a female author. We started things off last month, on International Women’s Day, with ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman.

For April, I’ve chosen the poignant ‘Birdcage Walk’ by Helen Dunmore. As we are celebrating female authors, I felt it was appropriate to choose a novel that explores how a female writer from the eighteenth century could be completely forgotten by history.

‘Birdcage Walk’ is set in Bristol during the outbreak of the French Revolution. The main character is Lizzie Fawkes, a young woman conflicted by the ideals instilled in her by her radical, writer mother and her sense of duty to her husband. We witness how all the characters are affected by the revolution in Europe. Lizzie’s feminist mother and her friends welcome the change that the revolution promises. But for Lizzie’s husband, a property developer, the uncertainty the revolution creates means disaster.

I thought the plot was brilliantly unpredictable and all the characters were complex and well rounded. I felt the prologue added an interesting perspective as before we even meet any of the protagonists, we learn that their story will be almost entirely lost to history.

My favourite aspect of ‘Birdcage Walk’ is how personal it feels, as despite being historical fiction it gives an intimate view of one family’s life.

See you in May for our next review.

Philippa, Brompton Library

International Women’s Day – inspirational female authors

Today, Thursday 8 March is International Women’s Day; a date to inspire and celebrate women around the world, a celebration that began for over a century ago. It started with the campaign for better pay and voting rights and this is particularly pertinent this year as 2018 marks 100 years since women were first given the vote.

To celebrate, we will be reviewing one book a month written by inspirational female authors.

We’ll start things off with the electrifying ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman.
Like a lot of great plots, ‘The Power’ is based on a “what if?” idea. What if women suddenly had the power to cause incredible pain with the flick of their fingers? This is exactly what happens in this novel and we get to witness how this changes everything on a global scale.

Although we are shown the impact on the entire world, the book focuses on four main characters. There’s Roxy, the teenager from a criminal background who discovers the extent of her new found ability, and there’s Margot, ambitious for more political power. Then there’s Allie, who walks away from her troubled childhood to become the leader of a new religion. And there’s Tunde, a young male reporter who witnesses the dramatic global events unfold.

I loved how much this book toyed with my emotions, as one minute I was euphoric and the next horrified. It is impossible to read this without reflecting on how its themes of power and the abuse of power affect the world today.  This will appeal to fans of Margaret Atwood and anyone ready to view the world differently.

See you next month.

Philippa, Brompton Library