In Blog #7: Girls Just Want To Have Fun, I promised to revisit the Women’s Fiction genre, probably numerous times. I love reading about the complexities of women’s relationships with the many common themes that touch all of our lives: friendship, lovers, marriage and divorce, secrets and lies, betrayal, loss and grief, pregnancy, miscarriage and postpartum depression, childhood trauma and domestic violence, anxiety, depression, low self-worth and self-doubt, inner critics and controlling others, psychotherapy, healing, personal growth, empowerment, self-esteem and self-actualization. The list is endless.
Most of us have experience with at least some if not all of these issues. Reading about them, for me, is about finding new friends, feeling more connected, understanding the motivations of others, and discovering new ways to look at life and it’s many joys and struggles. There are many wonderful Women’s Fiction writers that I can’t begin to keep up. I’ll share a few more of my favorites here now, some I’ve been reading for awhile and some that I’ve newly discovered.
I’ve read several books by Jane Green and with about twenty books to her credit, I have many more to go. My first introduction to her writing was Saving Grace and it is still my personal favorite and it has many similarities to my first book. What looks like a charmed marriage on the outside is anything but, as is so often is the case with raging or abusive partners. I felt Green artfully depicted the emotional struggles Grace endures. I was engaged and rooting for her every step of the way.
One of Green’s books that pleasantly surprised me was Falling. It received a mix of some quite negative as well as positive reviews, which made me curious about what would prompt such divergent opinions. I enjoyed the unfolding love story and the protagonist Emma’s return home. At times I was on her side, at other times she irritated me. There were sad events, but then there was also the growth and healing that can come from tragedy. I felt like it captured the “real stuff” of life. Having traveled a similar path toward more authenticity in my own life, this book touched and stayed with me long after I finished it.
Two authors that I’m excited to have found recently are Kathryn Hughes and Emily Liebert. Hughes’s The Letter, while a very different story than mine, had several similar elements, including the presence of an old unopened letter. Both a love story and a mystery alternating between the WW2 era and the 1970’s, it grabbed me from the start and I read it in a couple evenings. I quickly added her subsequent books, The Secret and The Key to my “Want to Read” list!
Those Secrets We Keep was the first book I read by Emily Liebert and was so thrilled by it that I quickly followed it with several of her other books including Some Women, and I Knew You When. Her development of flawed characters and portrayal of women’s issues and at times very conflicted relationships is fresh and authentic. Her books leave me with the same satisfaction I feel when I’ve been able to sink below the superficial and really talk genuinely to a friend. I especially loved I Knew You When. I read it more slowly than typical for me because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to savor the comfortable, warm-hearted feeling I had toward the characters as they remembered the girls they once were and found their way back to the best parts of themselves.
Another newcomer to my reading list is Sophie Kinsella with My Not So Perfect Life. The title of this book is what drew me in. I hadn’t read any of her Shopaholic Books – maybe because I hate to shop and thought I wouldn’t relate. But who hasn’t felt that their life is less than perfect at one time or another! So, I thought I’d give this a try and I’m glad I did. Her writing style was very pleasant and engaging and I loved the characters. I inwardly cheered at the conclusion. I followed this first Kinsella read with I’ve Got Your Number, a very fun and funny book. There aren’t many books that I’ve laughed out loud as much as I did with this one. Great for times when something light and fun is just what the doctor’s ordered!
What do you typically look for in women’s fiction? Light, fun? More serious depth? Or like me, does it depend on your mood?