Literature by women has developed across centuries. Once, society set ongoing pressures on women’s writing – it was considered an act of rebellion against societal norms; yet women have been able to produce some of the most iconic and inspirational novels that have made a permanent marker in transforming history. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re going to share with you some jaw-clenching, eloquent and meaningful novels that have been written by some of our best feminist authors across generations.
Let’s jump back to the 1930s where Daphne Du Maurier blessed the literature world with a classic, metafictional novel that challenged conventions and inspired readers – Rebecca. Written in 1938, Du Maurier explores several genres and entwines them into one, meaning this isn’t your stereotypical romance. Du Maurier includes elements of homosexuality, gothic events, along with societal pressures on women. This beautiful book will open your eyes to how women survived the ongoing pressures they faced as they continuously strived to live up to an idealised woman in a demanding society. With twists and turns, Rebecca is a dark and mysterious novel that will have you gripping the edge of your seat, as Du Maurier includes a series of surprising events.
Now taking you to the 1960s, when Susanna Kaysen shared her special memoir, Girl Interrupted, as she confides in her readers; informing them of her mental health experiences when she was institutionalised. Transformed into a successful film in 2000, Kaysen relives a struggling period of her life through the character, Susanna. Reflecting on her time being institutionalised, Girl Interrupted explores a corrupt mental health system, where women were nothing but dismissed and degraded by not only society but also medical practitioners. Thus, it created an imminent divide between men and women and patients and professionals. This eye-opening text allows readers to gain a perspective of the challenges women faced when seeking support for any mental health-related illness in the 1960s.
Travelling back to the 2000s, Susanna Moore created a thrilling novel, In the Cut, that explores themes of sex and violence that will have you eager to keep flicking the page. Moore cleverly crafted a metaphorical title that not only represents the vagina but also a place to hide, which instantly grasped my attention and had me eager to open the first page. Also now produced into a successful film with the lead actress, Meg Ryan, In The Cut exploits women’s weaknesses when confronted by dominant and powerful men, whether that be sexually or on a casual basis. Somehow the narrator becomes oddly obsessed with sexual violence and murder after befriending a New York detective, Malloy and forming a sexual relationship with him. Moore devised several shocking and sinister events in this novel that are bound to keep your eyes peeled to the page. If you are one who enjoys sex, crime and violence related novels, then definitely give this one a go!
Taking a step back to the 2010s, I’m sure you’re all well aware of the most satisfying sequel of the century when E.L James introduced a collection of dark, mysterious and libidinous erotica’s: Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Yet James didn’t stop there. Before we knew it, Grey was published which followed the same seductive storyline as the sequel, but in the perspective of the main man himself, Christian Grey. James explores a male narrator – as opposed to her usual feminine one – and boy she does it well. The reader gets the opportunity to step into the mind of Christian Grey and relive this phenomenal erotica through the eyes of the dominant. As Grey ‘exercises control in all things’ and had us all eager to find out why; all the questions we had about his thought process behind this specific lifestyle are answered. If you weren’t ready to let go of these books before, then I suggest you pick up a copy of Grey soon!
Last but not least, a more recent book that is not one to miss is: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This inspirational text highlights a shift in both feminism and women’s mental health as the female narrator, Eleanor, takes her readers on a journey of recovery. Honeyman crafts a funny, relatable yet inspiring narrator that experiences a possible case of autism and also carries some mental health struggles throughout. With a troubled past and difficulty in communicating, Eleanor lives a lonely life as she confides in nothing but endless bottles of vodka. When forming an obsession with a popular musician, Eleanor suffers a nervous breakdown when things don’t go to plan. With a few extra surprises, Eleanor’s unique character will have you nothing but intrigued as you are bound to let out a few cheeky chuckles along the way too.
These are only a few choices of the many powerful texts written by some of the most influential female authors. So if you are stuck on what book to bury yourself into next, then you should definitely consider one of these sensational novels for your next read.