6 Books Written by Women About Women: Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! I thought I’d write about women writing about other empowering women, whether they’re based on facts or fiction. Are there any books you’re specifically reading this month for Women’s History Month? Are there any you’ve read and would suggest to other curious readers? This list is curated from my TBR shelf on Goodreads.

Circe by Madeline Miller

If you’re unsure of who Circe was, I’ll go ahead and briefly summarize her. She was the daughter of Helios. She can turn mortals into animals, and is banned to a secluded island for turning a nymph into a sea monster. She was described as walking to the beat of her own drum. Circe was a free spirit, and didn’t really care whether what she was doing was good or bad.

This book is about her having to rise up and fight for what she loves most. She also has to choose if she belongs with the Gods or with mortals. I’ve heard so many great things about this one, and I’m hoping it’s just as good as The Song of Achilles by the same author.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

This book follows Beryl Markham, a Kenyan aviatrix, who flew solo over the Atlantic Ocean. She didn’t stop there, though. She trained racehorses and wrote her own memoir. She was raised by her father and was a wild child, throwing her into many disastrous relationships. She attracts a community called the Happy Valley who also live by their own rules, and amidst the community is a man who changes her life . . . Denys Finch Hatton.

You’ll see that I have another Paula McLain book on this list, and that’s because I love her writing. I’m so excited to see how she writes about an aviatrix rather than someone who’s dealing with war. Beryl just seemed like a tough woman who chased her dreams when it seemed impossible. I’m all about that!

Euphoria by Lily King

This is loosely based on the famous Anthropologist, Margaret Mead. It follows three anthropologists (a married couple and another random man) in the jungles of New Guinea. They begin to create their best work, but it doesn’t come without fierce love and jealousy, threatening everything they have.

I recently finished King’s newest novel, Writers & Lovers, and I really enjoyed it. I know the writing style isn’t for everyone, but Lily King does such a great job at creating flawed, passionate characters. I’m hoping that this is no different! Beyond further research, I’m not entirely sure that this is 100% about empowered/empowering women, but it’s based off a famous, powerful figure, so I thought I’d add it.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

This novel is about Janie Crawford, a fictional character, who is determined to become her own woman during the ’30s. It takes her through a journey of three marriages and going back to her roots.

I read this in high school, and as a book that I was forced to read, I really enjoyed this one. I definitely want to reread in sometime soon. I guess this month would be as good a time as any. I just think Janie is a strong woman, and I highly recommend you give this a read.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Martha Gellhorn, one of the many wives of Hemingway, also happened to be a journalist and travel writer. This book follows her relationship with Hemingway and how it impacts her own dreams and aspirations during the Spanish-Civil War. Although, she does become one of the greatest war correspondents.

I loved this book when I read it back in mid-2018. I’d love to reread it and see if my thoughts have changed. I do remember her going through such turbulent times with Hemingway while also being an independent woman.

Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

This novel is based on Leonora Carrington, a famous surrealist artist during the ’30s. She actually just died in 2011, which I had no idea she lived to see the 2000s. The novel also includes other artists of that era. She creates work that is based on her own life, and is recognized by her real name. Unfortunately, war looms over her and impacts her life greatly. The love of her life is taken away from her, and they have to find a way to reunite. They stumble upon an art collector who helps artists escape to America.

This just sounds so good, and it’s right up my alley. It’s historical fiction involving art. I don’t think I’ve read one that has let me down, yet. Leonora just seems like a strong woman who can handle anything, at least I hope so! This one actually isn’t out until April 6th, but I definitely want to read it. I’ll let you all know what I think when I do.

That’s it for this post. I hope you all are lifting each other up! Let me know if you have read any good books that would work well for this month! Thanks for reading.

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Book Review: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Thank you Penguin Random House (Ballantine Books) for sending me a finished copy of this novel for an honest review.

Love and Ruin
By: Paula McLain
389 pages
ISBN: 9781101967386 (Hardcover)
Published: May 1, 2018 by Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars

If you are an Ernest Hemingway fan, specifically a fan of his marriages, then this should be up your alley. I have not read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, but I guess that one also talks about Hemingway. Love and Ruin focuses on Martha Gellhorn, an independent twenty-eight year old woman with more ambitions than she can count on both of her hands. Her biggest goal is to become a writer and prove to all the men in the field that women can do the same thing, if not better. She ends up traveling to Madrid during the Spanish Civil War (heartbreaking by the way) to report on what is happening. She becomes attached to not only the tragedy that is taking place but also Ernest himself. They end up falling in love, but when WWII starts showing it’s face it goes downhill from there. He is more interested in getting drunk and writing his books than loving and supporting Martha. She has to decide if she wants to spend her life being compared to her husband, or spend it becoming her own person, creating her own path to success.

The War:
I figured I would talk a little bit about what is happening while we are following our main character, Martha. She travels to Madrid in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. I’m going to be honest with you, I had absolutely no idea what took place/why the war happened in the first place. I’m sure I learned it in school, but I don’t remember it at all. I’m not going to give a history lesson, because ya’ll don’t want that, but I’ll just give a brief summary if you are interested. Basically, there was a great divide between the Republicans and the Nationalists that were led by Francisco Franco. The Nationalists wanted to take over the country from the already established government. As a result to both sides being reckless, so many people died. Eventually the Republic fell, and Franco took over. However, that was not the end. The Spanish citizens had started to break into barracks, which the Nationalists were not prepared for. They had to ask for assistance, and of course they had Hitler, Mussolini and Salazar on their side. You probably know where it goes from there.

There was the Spanish Civil War, the Winter War, WWII, just so many conflicts took place throughout this story. It was very intense and heartbreaking.

Ernest Hemingway:
I hated his character in the novel. He was a drunk that married so many women because he couldn’t stand not being married. He never supported Martha, even though all she did was love and support him. She knew that he was one of the best writers of his time. I thought I liked him in the beginning, but as soon as he had Marsha hook, line and sinker he changed completely. He knew that she wanted to be on site for a report that she wanted to write, and he would always be one step ahead of her and ruin her chances (hence the name Love and Ruin). It was all just out of spite. She traveled because she loved it, but he thought that because they were married she had to be next to him 24/7.

Martha Gellhorn:
She is probably one of my favorite female protagonists, ever. She is strong-willed, independent and smart. According to the author’s note in the back of the book, Martha Gellhorn reported on almost every conflict for sixty years. Which is pretty bad ass if you ask me. It takes so much dedication and strength to withstand all of that. Obviously she wasn’t always morally correct, but everyone makes mistakes. It just proves that she is human like the rest of us. It helps me relate to her a little more. It breaks my heart that she was such a wonderful woman who was treated like garbage when all she wanted to do was make sure everything was okay. What she does in the end of the book just makes me super happy. I’m so proud of her, and she will forever be one of my favorite people.

Edna (Martha’s mother):
I thought it was sweet that no matter what she was doing she always greeted her husband at the door when he came home. However, I found out later that Martha’s father wasn’t the greatest person in the world. Edna wasn’t a bad character, and definitely encouraged Martha more than probably any other character. I’m going to assume that Ernest’s support was totally fake. Edna made herself more known as the story came to a close. She came in right when Ernest and Martha had their issues and falling out.

The story is very much character driven even thoughshe does throw in a lot about the setting. I loved learning from this book, even though it’s fiction. I had no idea what the Winter War was until it was mentioned in the book. McLain knew how to give you all the details of the war while sticking with the main issues at hand. It never felt info dumpy (lol). I could see how it might be to other people, but I like learning new information. I recommend this even if you don’t read historical fiction. Martha Gellhorn is definitely a person I’d like to know more about.

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