Today is International Women’s Day so I thought what better way to bookishly commemorate the day than by sharing some of my favourite women writers and their works. There are quite a few of them, and I could probably waffle on about Jane Austen for as long as anyone would listen, it could be days, so I’m going to limit myself to five authors that I love, and five authors that I’d like to read. Spoiler alert though: Jane Austen will feature and their will be some gushing involved. Sorry.
I know, what a surprise. A Jane Austen novel for me is like a warm woolly jumper I incessantly wear and refuse to wash. I am emotionally attached to them all. Before I read Jane Austen, I assumed the classics were boring dusty tomes mostly written by Charles Dickens. I had a traumatic experience with Bleak House that made me so reluctant to pick up anything remotely ‘old’ and as a teenager I wasn’t interested in reading anything that didn’t include at least one tortured vampire or loyal werewolf. Reading Jane Austen was a game changer, and it led me to reading novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, the Brontes and Virginia Woolf. Austen is witty and sharp and the women in her novels have a lot to lose.
Reading The Bell Jar for the first time felt like picking a book up for the first time. The language is achingly beautiful. I underlined pages of my favourite lines. It’s such a stark novel of what it means to be a woman, and to be a woman who has a mental illness, at a time when so little about it was understood.
The Power was my favourite book last year. I couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. It was so good. And it struck a chord with me. I think it perfectly demonstrates what can happen when one group are constantly put above the others and the way in which prejudice becomes ingrained in society and in our behaviours.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I read We Should All Be Feminists last year and couldn’t stop nodding my head the entire way through. I think I might have given myself whiplash. Then I watched her Ted talks and I just think she’s incredible. I’ve only read a handful of her short stories but I am definitely reading more of her work this year. It’s a must.
I think Elizabeth Taylor is underrated. I’ve read In a Summer Season and Blaming and while they are quiet in terms of plot, there is so much going on beneath the surface of their middle class politeness. Her characters are complex and engaging, and there is humour in the novels that reminds me of Austen.