For several years now there has been an ongoing debate about the representation of women in literature – both as the leading characters, but also as the authors. To have their stories heard women have, since as far back as the 1800’s with the likes of the Brontes, Louisa May Alcott and Mary Anne Evans, adopted male pseudonyms or even, more recently in the case of J.K Rowling, gender-neutral initials. Over time, this has bled into the literary review circle, with The Stella Count statistics revealing that state newspaper (in Australia) continue to review more books by male writers than female writers. The result is a staggering underrepresentation of women’s voices.
So this year at Champagne Missives, we’re getting behind those amazing voices and championing the cause of women in literature both past and present – starting with a list of six books we think all women and men should read in (the first half of ) 2016.
I was fortunate enough to hear Annie Barrows speak about ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ at an event hosted by Indulgent Sage and the Blue’s Point Bookshop in Sydney. An unabashed story-teller, Annie drew me into the origins of the story before I had even purchased the book. I didn’t read it in a single session, rather I quickly knew I wanted to savour the feeling of being pulled into its beautiful narratives every time I opened it. I also admit, I cried when the book ended, feeling as I did that a small part of my life ended with the last page. My advice – This is one literary society you want to join asap.
‘Last Woman Hanged’ is a compelling tale of the events leading up to and after Louise Collins was sentenced to death and hanged after being tried for the same crime four times. Unless you are a history buff you probably didn’t even know her name… an(other) Australian woman lost in time – were it not for the author Caroline Overington’s passion for excavating the past.
If you still haven’t read ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg then this is the year to make it happen. It’s the book that sparked renewed discussion about being a woman, the pull of motherhood and how we can strike the balance… but not by standing by and waiting patiently.
Elizabeth Gilbert is my new girl crush. I listened to her on Conversations with Richard Fidler on the ABC the other day and fell head over heels in love with her enthusiasm, honesty and innate sense of curiosity about… well, everything. You’ve probably already read (or seen) ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – so now it’s time for some ‘Big Magic’.
You’ve probably split your sides laughing at some of Magda Szubanski’s characters in shows like Kath and Kim and Fast Forward – but you probably never guessed that her father was an assassin. Prepare to laugh, cry, be heartbroken and uplifted while you read ‘Reckoning’, the origins of an amazing Australian woman.
‘The Natural Way Of Things’ by Charlotte Wood is a book with the power to change who you are. It is dark and disturbing and will pull you under… and you’ll go willingly – all in a single reading.
Once you’ve read them, remember to stop by and let us know what you thought.