As most of you are now aware The Guardian plays host to the wonderful Not The Booker Prize, since it’s inception in 2009 by journalist Sam Jordison. This is a literary award decided by the reader and it gives opportunity to many authors to access the type of coverage and notoriety that can be very difficult to attain among today’s crammed book shelves.
A few weeks back I had a pleasure of hosting Sara Gethin, whose book Not Thomas is shortlisted this year (full article HERE).
Today I welcome another shortlisted nominee, Irish writer and author of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society, Ann O’ Loughlin.
Ann has written a guest post entitled ‘Women Write Great Books!’, which outlines the furore surrounding the all female selection on the awards shortlist and whether a book is written by a woman or a man, it really should not matter…
Please read on for more….
Women Write Great Books!
by Ann O’ Loughlin
What is it about women?
Put a few of us together and we begin to chat. Within a short time we are rooting for each other or offering a shoulder to cry on.
Women are great at friendship.We women band together.
This is the spirit of friendship I celebrate in my third novel The Ludlow Ladies’ Society, shortlisted for Not The Booker. In the novel, the women bond and chat as they stitch patchwork memory quilts to those they have lost.
The story celebrates the resilience of women and how they support each other through the worst of times.
With the excitement of being on the shortlist, I did not realise until complaints and observations began to surface to the organisers of the competition,The Guardian newspaper that for the first time the Not The Booker shortlist is all women.There are five other female authors also on the shortlist, whittled down from 150. That we are women should not matter a jot. Seemingly, when it was an all male shortlist in 2012, there was no comment or hints of discrimination or injustice. But the 2017 shortlist caused a furore with male Guardian readers wringing their hands in consternation. It was something to be celebrated, but instead was turned into a reason for some to express outrage.
My favourite riposte from a female contributor in the furore which raged for days was
“Women write? why next time they will be asking for the vote!”
When the indignation over the all female shortlist cooled, the subject matter chosen by each of the authors became fair game, often by people who had not bothered to read beyond the blurb on the cover.
But just as the women of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society supported each other, the shortlisted authors began to support each other . It was obvious we all have a healthy respect for each other ,knowing in our hearts what a slog it takes to get any book over the line and on to the shelf.
Let me say here, I write books and I am proud of it. That women and men all over the world have chosen to read my novels, which are now translated in to eight languages and also published in the US is a source of immense pride for me.
Yes, a lot of women read my books and my books are categorised as women’s fiction.
Women buy the most books, women are voracious readers, the toughest critics , the greatest supporters when they like your work.
My readers demand a good read, good writing and a book they can recommend to their friends.
Very few women I know or the readers of my books want a totally easy read. Women every day of their lives make tough decisions whether it is at home or at work.
Women are expert at juggling all that life throws at them, they demand no less in the fiction they read.
The core issue at the heart of The Ludlow Ladies’ Society touches an area not previously covered in Irish fiction.
It is silly to box a writer in under a label, but in the world of books, that is what happens. My label is women’s fiction, but my pride is that my readers love my writing and enjoy the books I write.
In this Not The Booker competition, vote for a female author and vote for the book you like. We, the shortlisted authors will cheer on the winner.
Connie Carter has lost everyone and everything dear to her. Leaving her home in New York, she moves to a run-down Irish mansion, hoping to heal her shattered heart and in search of answers: how could her husband do the terrible things he did? And why did he plough all their money into the dilapidated Ludlow Hall before he died, without ever telling her?
At first Connie tries to avoids the villagers, until she meets local women Eve and Hetty who introduce her to the Ludlow Ladies’ Society, a crafts group in need of a permanent home.
Connie soon discovers Eve is also struggling with pain and the loss of having her beloved Ludlow Hall repossessed by the bank and sold off. Now, seeing the American Connie living there, the hurt of losing everything is renewed. Can these women ever be friends? Can they ever understand or forgive?
As the Ludlow Ladies create memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface. But can Connie, Eve and Hetty stitch their lives back together?
The Ludlow Ladies’ Society is a story of friendship, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times.
Purchase Link ~ The Ludlow Ladies’ Society
You can find Ann O’ Loughlin on Twitter ~ @annolwriter