Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I am in desperate need for some good reading material. I've been without a good book for a month or two now, and I'm getting depressed. Please give me your suggestions!

My preferred books:
  • *female authored
  • *fiction
  • *main character is a woman who is something of a non-conformist
  • *set in the past

My very favorite books have generally fit into the above categories, but I'm open to any real page turner that you have loved. And just to give you an idea of some of the books I love so that you can better offer suggestions...(and I'm a little embarrassed here because not all of these are particularly high brow. Some are just fantastic stories ...err....even romances... that really swept me up and resonated with me.)

I only ask for great character development (particularly within a powerful, interesting female main character), rich setting, some contemplation on human nature, and a page turning story. Thanks!


Blogger jana said...

I heard that the next installment in the outlander seris is out now. Have you read it yet?

2/08/2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Really? the 6th book is out? No I haven't. I have to admit that I actually never quite got through the 5th one. It just seemed to get bogged down there in the middle with all the characters and details. But I should pick it up and give it another shot.

2/08/2006 9:20 PM  
Blogger Heather P. said...

Have you read The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery? Such a good book. I highly recommend it. I think it fits in all of the above.

2/08/2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

This will send you back to middle school, but I keep passing my female students, "The Blue Sword" and "Hero and the Crown," by Robin McKinely. I must have read both a dozen times in high school, and still pick them up from time to time for a good read.

I also love "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe," (Fannie Flagg). It's not a fiction book, but you'd enjoy Susan Monk Kidd's "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" -- her journey into spiritual feminism -- and Annie Lamott's essays.

2/09/2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

Have you read anything by Jhumpa Lahiri?
The Namesake
Interpreters of Maladies

2/09/2006 5:16 PM  
Anonymous strange bird said...

If you liked Red Tent, you might enjoy some of Rosalind Miles' novels. I, Elizabeth is quite good (about Elizabeth I and probably her best novel), and the Guenevere series is entertaining if fluffy. I'd stay away from the Isolde novels, though; I just finished them and wow! Disappointing!

2/09/2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...


Some ideas:
_Second-Class Citizen_ by Buchi Emecheta--painful but redeeming.
_The Lovely Bones_ (told through the ghost of a murdered teenage girl) or _Lucky_ (non-fiction account of Sebold's rape experience) by Alice Sebold--both a bit gruesome.
_The Kitchen God's Wife_ by Amy Tan--I remember really liking this one, but I don't remember the book itself very well.

Maybe if you haven't already read them, _The Scarlet Pimpernell_ by Baroness Orczy Emmuska and _The Count of Monte Cristo_ by Dumas were real page-turners for me. _My Name is Asher Lev_ was so engaging for me--I was captivated by its theme of the struggle of the artist in an orthodox religion.

And one that is definitely not in your criteria but one I loved and couldn't put down was _Straight Man_ by Richard Russo.

2/10/2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger amelia said...

i second brooke's suggestions of amy tan, both of the Alice Sebold books (so incredible), and _My Name Is Asher Lev_ (the follow up is interesting, too, but not as powerful).

some more suggestions:

_Bailey's Cafe_ by Gloria Naylor
_Mama Day_ by Gloria Naylor
_the Age of Innocence_ by Edith Wharton
_Evelina_ by Fanny Burney
_jasmine_ by Bharati Mukherjee
_The God of Small Things_ by Arundhati Roy
_A Thousand Acres_ by Jane Smiley

that's all i'm thinking of at the moment. i'm sure there are others. and these probably aren't as heavy on the historical side of things as you want. but they're all great reads.

2/10/2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Amy, I just read _Age of Innocence_ this year and loved it. OOOHH, the ending!

2/10/2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Heather, thanks for The Blue Castle suggestion. Amy has told me before how wonderful that one is. I'll look for it in the library.

Deborah, I read Hero and the Crown a few years ago and loved it. I havn't done the blue sword yet. Have you read McKinely's Beauty? That was one I read over and over when I was a teenager.

I've not done anything with Lahiri, though I know she's got great critical acclaim. I'll have to check those out if you enjoyed them.

Strange Bird,
i've not read Rosalynde Miles, but she sounds like she's up my ally. I did enjoy Gregory's The Other Bolyn Girl, which is obviously the same era as the one you mentioned. Very fascinating.

Brooke and Amy,
Thanks for all these wonderful suggestions. Yippee! I will find good books and be happy again soon!

2/10/2006 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

These are all great suggestions! From your preferences, I think you might like A.S. Byatt's books. Start with "Possession", it's a bit dense, but an excellent read.

2/10/2006 9:04 PM  
Blogger Artemis said...

I second Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. THE Best.

Also, you might like Praisesong for the Widow, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Mistress of Spices. All on Amazon or your favorite super-conglomerate-corporate bookstore.

3/01/2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger kris said...

Caroline -- Are you willing to try some Canadian lit? I think Carol Shield's "The Stone Diaries" and Jane Urquhart's "Away" would meet your criteria. They are both excellent books.

3/11/2006 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Mike Kessler said...

Caroline, since you listed "Into the Wild," perhaps you might like "Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty." It's mentioned in "Into the Wild," and it's about a young man who disappeared in Southern Utah in 1934. The publisher's description: ""Everett Ruess, a bold teenage adventurer, artist, and writer - studied and lived with Edward Weston, Maynard Dixon and Dorothea Lange. He traded prints with Ansel Adams. He tramped around the Sierra Nevada, the California coast, and the desert wilderness of the Southwest pursuing his dream of ultimate beauty and oneness with nature." And, on a personal note, Buckley Jeppson did a lot of work on this book for Gibbs Smith Publishers, including trekking through Grand Staircase-Escalante (though you have to read the preface to find his name mentioned). You can follow the link from this page: .

4/05/2006 1:12 PM  

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