At the behest of a lovely friend, I have compiled my Top Ten Feminist Fiction Texts. Not all are necessarily Feminist although all are written by women and have beautiful women as characters.
2. Dorothy L. Sayer’s Gaudy Night: Probably the first Feminist mystery book. Technically the main character is male, but Harriet Vane is brilliant, funny and her own woman.
3. Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: It celebrates female friendships; there is nothing more Feminist than women loving and supporting other women.
4. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: I was a historian in a previous life and this is my favourite quote:
‘I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome: and yet, I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs – the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.’
So, it’s not the most feminist of texts but Jane Austen is brilliant [more so than V.S Naipaul in fact].
5. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible: The story of the 4 daughters of an abusive “Christian” man; a story of love, family, racism, and truth. It is a classic.
6. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: Another story of the power of women’s love. It is beautiful, soul-destroying and incredible.
7. Winifred Holtby’s South Riding: Holtby was a Feminist and she writes about Feminism. What else is there to say.
8. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: No explanation necessary for this one.
9. Andrea Levy’s The Long Song: It is a story of slavery but really the story of an incredible woman.
10. Charlaine Harris’ The Shakespeare Books: Harris is more well-known as the author of the True Blood books but this series is by far the most Feminist. It is, simply, about the systemic level of sexualised violence within our Patriarchal society. Many books deal with rape but very few deal with rape as a crime against all women; the way the threat of rape is used to control and punish women. And, just how common rape really is.
11. Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club: Again, a novel about the power of women’s relationships.
12. Marian Keyes’ This Charming Man: Everything Keyes writes is Feminist. It is an utter travesty that she is frequently dismissed as “chick lit”.
13. Margaret Lawrence’s The Diviners: She only wrote 5 books about the same area of Manitoba. All are brilliant but this is my favourite.
14. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. She rocked.
15. Kris Radish’s The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. The power of women’s friendship and the inspiration for this blog:)