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.
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.
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.
Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to read more? Why not get some inspiration from our monthly reviews of inspirational female authors. We have been reviewing a book by a female writer (nearly!) every month since International Women’s Day in March last year. For January, I have chosen The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
The Penelopiad is a reimagining of The Odyssey, but instead of following the adventures of Odysseus, it is told from the perspective of Penelope, his wife. It is part of the Canongate Myth Series, where ancient myths were rewritten by a selection of contemporary authors.
Margaret Atwood chooses to retell the classic story from a female perspective and she creates a complex character in Penelope, who is more than the dutiful wife portrayed in the original. She also gives a voice to the mysterious twelve maids, who are killed by Odysseus when he finally returns from his voyage. In this version, the maids tell their tale as part of a chorus which interrupts the story with songs, children’s rhymes, an academic lecture and even a court trial.
I loved this retelling of the classic myth and in particular the way in which the maids tell their side of the story, which is fresh and unique. As is typical of a Margaret Atwood novel, it is intelligent but also funny, and that odd mix of disturbing but also engaging.
Come back in February for our penultimate review of an inspirational female author.
Philippa, Brompton Library
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