I’d like to share two ideas upon which I firmly stand:
1. Women’s Literary Fiction is not just for women.
2. Reading classic literature provides a deep and rewarding scope of the world, which expands us as humans.
With this in mind, I warmly encourage you to get your hands on any or all of these 10 gorgeous books, since I can say each one helped me to grow in profound and important ways. I came to understand, one page at a time, just exactly what it means to be a woman, to love women, and to understand women (or the parts of woman within us all) a little bit more – a notable gift to any human being borne of women – and that means you.
Amy Tan’s One Hundred Secret Senses. (1995, 368 pages, Chinese-American) Kwan’s modern California life is woven with her mother’s fascinating Chinese ghost stories.
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899, 144 pages, French-American) Edna Pontellier’s privileged life in New Orleans tests her socially-supported marriage and her private desire to be free.
Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine (1984, 284 pages, Ojibwe) Erdrich’s debut novel of five interconnected tribal families living in Minnesotan and North Dakotan Native American culture.
Muriel Sparks’ The Girls of Slender Means (1963, 148 pages, British) Upon news of a man’s death in 1963, a familiar journalist researches his story, with flashbacks to 1945, when sometimes deviant and desperate young women lived at the May of Teck Club during the London Occupation.
Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916, One-Act Play, Euro-American) When Mrs. Hale is widowed, the investigators blindly determine Mr. Hale’s means of death.
Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place (1982, 209 pages, African-American) Naylor’s debut novel of seven women’s portraits living in one inner-city tenement.
Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits (1982, 512 pages, Chilean) Allende’s debut novel – the Trueba family in post-colonial Chili spans four generations which combines magical realism with Chili’s political history.
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (1957, 1088 pages, Russian-American) Rand’s magnum opus, a statement of Rand’s objectivism philosophy, with a female protagonist threat and the empowerment of Dagny Taggart’s self-reliance.
George Elliot’s Middlemarch (1871, 736 pages, British) Mary Ann Evans used her pen name to publish this social-political and romantic story of Dorothea Brooke, regarding idealism and disillusion, loyalty and love.
Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997, 342 pages, Jewish-American) Diamant tells of the Old Testament- Biblical story of Dinah, the overlooked daughter of Jacob and Leah from a few lines in the Book of Genesis.
No doubt there are more, and I have done my best to share a range of cultures, but forgive me for those I have not yet explored. These stories mentioned do hold timeless and universal themes, and each is written with the glory of masterful and eloquent language.
Do you have a women’s literary fiction title to share?
Blessed be, Isa