Laura L. Sullivan
In Milady, Sullivan imagines the life of Milady de Winter, the nemesis of the Three Musketeers. Aware that her reputation as a seductress and a murderer has made her a despised character, Milady puts forth a defense of her life that shows readers all the subtleties of her actions and her autobiographical reasons for being who she is. Love her or despise her, Milady de Winter presents a spirited defense of her actions.
The Chelsea Girls
The Chelsea Hotel has welcomed creative spirits and restless wanderers for generations. In the 1950s, two women fight to bring their play to the stage but find restrictions imposed on them by the paranoia about communism that infected the arts scene. In this stirring novel, the women must overcome their culture’s biases in order to succeed.
The Secrets We Kept
Before Doctor Zhivago became a film, it was a novel by Boris Pasternak, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature but prevented from leaving the USSR to receive it. His book never would have made it to the world if not for the courageous women of this novel, who helped smuggle the book out of the Soviet Union at great personal risk. Their daring story will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime.
Bringing Down the Duke
When Annabelle Archer arrives as a member of the first cohort of women students admitted to Oxford in 1879, she discovers that many of the male students don’t welcome the women’s presence. And, in exchange for her admission, Annabelle has committed herself to working for women’s suffrage, the right to vote denied at that time to all women. Surrounded by unpleasant and arrogant men, Annabelle must find a way to convince these same men to help her in her quest for her rights.
Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
Dexter Palmer brings to life the true story of Mary Toft, an eighteenth-century English woman who astounds male surgeons and doctors when she gives birth to rabbits. As she continues to produce rabbits, the mystery grows, and doctors descend on her small town to try to explain what is happening. By the time King George I commands her to come to London, public interest demands more and more of these miracles from Mary.
“Snow is fickle. Snow picks itself up and goes wherever Wind tells it to. One element controls the other in a cyclical oblivion.” Growing up in the Arctic Nunavut in the 1970s, an indigenous girl comes of age in a land of extremes. Her parents’ love and her close friendships help to insulate her from the bullying and tedium of school. But when she becomes pregnant as a teenager, she must draw on her grounding in Native stories and song to help plan her future.
The Silence of the Girls
In Homer’s Iliad, the “wrath of Achilles” leads to destruction for both the Greeks and the Trojans. In Pat Barker’s re-telling, readers meet the women who played significant roles in Homer’s epic, but whose importance was downplayed by the men who came after.
The Last Collection
In Paris in 1938, two powerful women—Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli—fight for dominance in the world of haute couture. A young American woman, Lily, comes into their orbit and she goes to work for Schiaparelli at her boutique. But all of Paris is nervous because the Nazis have not hidden their desire to control the City of Light. As Lily gets pulled further into the two designers’ drama, she must also find a way to protect herself from harm.
For a long time, girls were taught in schools that it was the “great men” who had made history. As the fields of history have expanded and democratized, overlooked stories from the past have been brought to light. Novelists and storytellers are now mining history in order to extract golden tales of women who found ways to succeed in spite of their cultures, to produce feminist historical fiction novels that are essential for understanding her-story.
In this collection of novels, readers will meet a young woman growing up in the Arctic, the women held captive during the Trojan War, and even a young woman who astounded doctors by giving birth… to bunnies. These and other fascinating tales of fabulous women are detailed below.
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Featured image: Robert Driscoll