Today I am writing about three under-celebrated women that have featured in books I have read in recent times.
Women are very often portrayed as the victim in books and while these women had their difficulties, they fought against the norm as they strove to live their lives their way.
There are so many books in the genre of historical fiction, many I have read but never had the opportunity to review. I have picked three books that I have read, reviewed and loved, each featuring a woman who has played a part in all our history.
Please read on for my thoughts…
First stop Japan 1853…
Lesley Downer has written a prequel to her Japanese collection, entitled The Shogun’s Queen. Having come across the story of Princess Atsu, the consort of the thirteenth Shogun in Edo (Tokyo), Lesley has written a wonderful piece of work. A novel of historical fiction, yet many of the characters, including that of Atsu, are true. Atsu was a warrior, a fighter who knew what she had to do to protect the peace and independance of her country. Atsu is deserving of her place in the history books.
Well researched novel for all fans of Japanese history – a very intriguing story.
Japan, and the year is 1853.
Japan teeters on the brink of turmoil…
Growing up among the samurai of the Satsuma Clan, in Japan’s deep south, the fiery, beautiful and headstrong Okatsu has – like all the clan’s women – been encouraged to be bold, taught to wield the halberd, and to ride a horse.
But when she is just seventeen, four black ships appear. Bristling with cannon and manned by strangers who to the Japanese eyes are barbarians, their appearance threatens Japan’s very existence. And turns Okatsu’s world upside down.
Chosen by her feudal lord, she has been given a very special role to play. Given a new name – Princess Atsu – and a new destiny, she is the only one who can save the realm. Her journey takes her to Edo Castle, a place so secret that it cannot be marked on any map. There, sequestered in the Women’s Palace – home to three thousand women, and where only one man may enter: the shogun – she seems doomed to live out her days. But beneath the palace’s immaculate facade, there are whispers of murders and ghosts. It is here that Atsu must complete her mission and discover one last secret – the secret of the man whose fate is irrevocably linked to hers: the shogun himself . . .’
Read on for my bookreview of this wonderful book ~ The Shogun’s Queen Book Review
Next we head to Africa in the 1920’s…
Paula McLain writes very special books. Her previous novel The Paris Wife was one I read and loved. It is a book based on Ernest Hemingway’s wife, Hadley and the struggles she faced as the wife of a ‘literary genius’
In Circling The Sun, the reader is taken to colonial Kenya, a time when exploration and hunting were vogue with the rich. Beryl Markham lives in Africa with her father, a well respected horse-trainer. Beryl grows up a bit of a wild child with ideas of becoming more than just a lady attending parties and drinking copious amounts of gin at The Club. She has dreams and ambitions to follow in her father’s footsteps and also to fly!! Her story is amazing.
I recommend Circling The Sun for all of you wishing to be inspired. It is a book filled with hopes and dreams..
‘She was a daughter of Edwardian England, transplanted to Kenya as a young girl by parents who dreamed of life on an African farm. But by the time Beryl Markham was sixteen, that dream had fallen apart. Catapulted into a disastrous marriage, she emerged from its wreckage with one idea: to take charge of her own destiny.
Circling the Sun takes us from the brittle glamour of the 1920s Happy Valley set, fuelled by gin and adultery, to the loneliness of life as a scandalous divorcee; from the spectacular beauty of the Kenyan landscape to the manicured lawns of Nairobi’s Muthaiga Club. Dazzlingly beautiful, brave, passionate and reckless, Beryl is an unforgettable heroine, whose tragic loss in love compels her to pursue her own dream – of flight, and freedom.’
Click here to read my thoughts ~ Circling The Sun Book Review
Finally we head to 1920’s Paris (via Ireland)
Annabel Abbs wrote a debut novel that absolutely blew me away. The Joyce Girl is a novel based on the story of Lucia Joyce, the daughter of the infamous Irish Writer James Joyce. Lucia Joyce was a young lady with dreams of being on stage. Reared primarily in Paris, Lucia was exposed, from a very young age, to a world of glamour and glitz. She strived to unlock the parental constraints that her father had on her and live her life as she so dreamed and wished for.
Lucia’s story is a very sad one. Her days ended tragically but her story lives on..
The Joyce Girl is a book that exposes a different side to James Joyce and the pressure’s he placed on his family to allow for his ‘genius’ to shine through.
Avant-garde Paris is buzzing with the latest ideas in art, music, literature and dance. Lucia, the talented and ambitious daughter of James Joyce, is making her name as a dancer, training with some of the world’s most gifted performers.
When a young Samuel Beckett comes to work for her father, she’s captivated by his quiet intensity and falls passionately in love. Persuaded she has clairvoyant powers, Lucia believes her destiny is to marry Beckett.
But when her beloved brother is enticed away, the hidden threads of the Joyces’ lives begin to unravel, destroying Lucia’s dreams and foiling her attempts to escape the shadow of her genius father.
Her life in tatters, Lucia is sent by her father to pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung. For years she has kept quiet. But now she decides to speak.’
Lucia Joyce was a product of a society that was never able to let her grow and be the person she wanted to be.
A stunning debut. I will continue to rave on about this book…..
Here are my thoughts on this superb novel ~ The Joyce Girl Book Review
Of course there are many more books featuring women with very strong stories to tell. This is only the very tip of the iceberg but were just a few of my personal favourites that I had reviewed.
I am so glad you took the time to read my words on a genre I have to admit I love.
Here are the purchase links for all three books, all would make ideal presents for yourself or someone else in your life..