The Buddha in the Attic is a short novel depicting the lives and struggles of Japanese mail-order brides arriving in America in the years leading up to World War II. It is not one central story that follows a single character--or even a few. Instead, the author uses the first person plural narrative style (through the use of "we" and "our") to tell the stories of countless, mostly nameless women.
Women in Clothes is a mélange of interviews, conversations, photos, illustrations, and other miscellanea on the subject of--you guessed it--women in clothes. While I don’t think it’s meant to be read cover-to-cover, that’s what I did. I was fascinated by what women had to say about their relationship to clothes, to dressing, to image, to practically all imaginable facets of the subject.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. This ubiquitous quote is what came to mind when I read Luckiest Girl Alive. Ani FaNelli has a seemingly perfect life – glamorous job, fit figure, dream wardrobe, dreamier fiancée. Yet, behind it all lurks a dark secret from her past.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a fast-paced murder mystery with lots of twists and turns throughout. It is July 2013 and Rachel, a middle-aged single woman, commutes by train to London every day. She has memorized everything about the trip, from the stops to the landscape, and has become particularly fascinated by a happy couple she sees almost everyday.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Most people know that these words were said by Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon. Many books have been written and movies made about the early years of space travel and the first astronauts. Except for old articles in LIFE magazine, much less has been written about the wives of those astronauts. Lily Koppel has addressed this lack of information in her book The Astronaut Wives Club.
In The Book of Heaven, Patricia Storace creates the mythology of an alternate universe, but one the reader recognizes, as if through a veil, from its allusions to Greek legends and Old Testament stories. It is different from anything I’ve read and therefore hard to describe. Although the sections hinge on central themes, such as of the oppression of women and the nature of God and of love, they can be read in isolation. Each section presents the tale of a different woman, eulogized in the stars themselves in this world Storace creates.
This memoir explores the life of Waris Dirie, recognized by many for her work as a model, and by others for her advocacy for human rights and a battle against female genital mutilation. The reader follows her from her early life as a nomad in the deserts of Somalia, to her difficult and sometimes dangerous journey to Mogadishu and eventually London. Working there as an underappreciated maid for her own family, she is "discovered", and sets off on an equally nomadic life as a model. Throughout her journey, Waris has to face the world with her own wits and tenacity.
In The Husband's Secret the lives of three Australian women are intertwined in ways they would never have thought possible. For years, the tragedy of a teenage daughter’s death has haunted one of the women and unknowingly affected another. The third woman, faced with a marital earthquake, takes her young son to her hometown of Sydney.
This debut novel takes a slightly different look at plantation life at the turn of the 19th Century. At its onset, Lavinia, a seven-year-old orphaned Irish indentured servant, is taken to live with black slaves in the Kitchen House of a Virginia tobacco plantation. She is put under the care of Belle, the illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner. She embraces Belle and the other slaves as her family.
This book had great potential, and many great moments, but doesn’t deliver in the end. After a night out with her four single girlfriends, Julie decides to travel the globe interviewing single women for a book about dating in different cultures. It’s a great premise, except that Julie gets air sick every time she flies and is too shy to talk to strangers on her own. Fortunately, one of her friends is able to fly across the world to each country she visits to hold her hand.