06 March 2020
In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March) we’re sharing the amazing books by women we’ve read in the last year. From Nina Renata Aron’s memoir of co-dependency to Hallie Rubenhold’s study of the lives of the five victims of Jack the Ripper, Tayari Jones’ Women’s Prize-winner and Carmen Maria Machado’s National Book Award-shortlisted collection of short stories, here are some (a very tiny fraction!) of the women authors who have thrilled us with their writing recently.
Act of Grace and Olive, Again
Niamh Murray, Marketing Director
Act of Grace by Anna Krien (coming soon from Serpent’s Tail). A brilliantly plotted literary novel set in Australia and Iraq about trauma, friendship and human connection. Krien’s ability to grapple with the big issues while building really present characters reminded me a bit of Kamila Shamsie’s writing.
Olive, Again. I adored this. Elizabeth Strout’s books keep getting better and with each, she gets closer to the heart of what it is to be human – vulnerable, brittle, inconsistent, learning, failing. A book I found myself slowing down for, the writing is that incredible.
Three Poems, Flèche and Her Body & Other Parties
Helen Conford, Publisher (Profile Books)
I’ve been reading two works by poets, Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan and Flèche by Mary Jean Chan, alongside Carmen Maria Machado’s collection of short stories, Her Body & Other Parties. All three felt to me like they’d been written by great talents staking new ground in how stories are told, what form they take and who gets to write them. They’re formally ingenious, sensuous and vital, with women’s experience at the heart of serious forms. All kinds of exhilarating.
Department of Speculation
Karishma Jobanputra, Intern
Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation is a daring and vivid exploration of what it feels like to live inside a failing marriage and the distinct nature of parenthood. Told in the form of short, poetic fragments that ask the reader to draw their own conclusions and connections, the novel reads as a thoughtful, funny and brilliantly clever series of meditations on daily life, the roles we play and the tension that comes from being an artist but also a woman, wife and mother. Short, poignant and exceptionally easy to hurtle through in one sitting.
I loved The Five by Hallie Rubenhold – the lives of the victims of Jack the
Ripper are brought out in shining, sympathetic detail, and an era illuminated.
I also finally finished The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, which was every bit as good and challenging and thought-provoking as promised; writing and characters that get under your skin and will burn long in my mind.
Paul Forty, Consultant Editor
Believe it or not I am reading Voltaire in Love by Nancy Mitford (published 1957). As quirky biography goes, it’s delightful – a bit dated, maybe, but great fun.
And before that I read (at last) Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Which is utterly brilliant. I wouldn’t go as far as ‘heartbreaking’ (the quote on the front), but gripping and emotionally complex. I loved it.
Ed Lake, Editorial Director
I pick Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner. This memoir of a wallflower at the orgy of the San Francisco tech boom is funny, incisive, and manages to capture the strange decadence of some very recent history in a way that nothing else quite has.
Kate McFarlan, Publishing Operations Director
I loved Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. I was given it by a man, recommended it to two other men who, as I had, laughed aloud, cried, and loved it. The origami scenes were so funny and so agonising at the same time. Brilliant.
Elizabeth Hitti, Publicity & Marketing Assistant
Madeline Miller’s Circe gives women in Greek mythology a voice as she explores humanity, independence and self-discovery. Miller successfully weaves ancient myths with the universal human condition, such as independence and self-discovery, into a compelling novel that is relatable to all.
The Real Lolita
Miranda Jewess, Viper Books publisher
I read The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman. It beautifully marries literary detective work and analysis of Nabokov’s book, with true crime and social commentary. Why a powerful fictional exploration of child rape – which is how Nabokov saw it – has so often been characterised as a love story. And Sally Horner, whose tragic life was the inspiration for the novel, but who has been all but forgotten.
Diana Broccardo, Commercial Director
I read the proposal of Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun a few years ago and I loved the outline, sadly we were outbid. A few weeks ago I was recommended the book by a friend /colleague, who’s advice I was asking on how to deal with a family member who is an alcoholic. It is a powerful read that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I cried for Amy and I am more sympathetic and understanding as to what living with this horrible addiction must be like. Also now desperate to go to The Orkney Islands!
An American Marriage
Flora Willis, Senior Marketing Manager
I was blown away by this intense and riveting portrait of a relationship. By the end I felt I knew so well the two main characters’ psyches yet the narrative kept throwing up surprises. The writing is beautiful, deft and pacy; the reader breathless as their allegiances switch, and switch again. A modern classic and worthy winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls
Drew Jerrison, Senior Press Officer
In the plethora of memoirs about addiction and recovery, Nina Renata Aron’s Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls (coming this June) is a total stand out. Through telling her story of what it’s like loving an addict, she examines codependency, the movements that have tackled addictions through history and how we talk about addiction today. At once a call to better our understanding of addiction and codependency, it is also a raw and beautifully written memoir of obsessive love and the lengths we go to satisfy it.
The Broken Ones
Rachel Nobilo, Marketing Manager
As a devout crime fan I’m thrilled we’re now publishing our own stellar list with Viper Books. Our second offering, The Broken Ones by Ren Richards, is a pacy, compelling look at mother-daughter relationships and questions of nature vs nurture and inherited behaviours. Perfect for devouring under the covers on a rainy (sigh) March weekend.