I love novellas (short novels under about 200 pages). They combine the depth of a novel with the intensity of a short story. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are my favorite historical novellas by and about women.
I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, by Maryse Conde
The real Tituba, a Caribbean slave, was accused of witchcraft in late 17th century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on this tiny bit of information, Conde crafts a larger-than-life character and follows her from conception to death and beyond.
The Wife of Martin Guerre, by Janet Lewis
In the French countryside of the 1500s, Bertrande must decide if the man who has returned to her is really her husband, or an imposter. This novella has inspired two movies.
Property, by Valerie Martin
During a slave revolt in pre-Civil War Louisiana, a white woman slave owner must make some decisions about herself and her slave, Sarah. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction by a female author (now called the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction).
Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
Inspired by the “madwoman in the attic” of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, this is the story of Antoinette Mason, from her lonely childhood in Jamaica, to her marriage to Edward Rochester, and ending with her insanity and confinement to the attic.
Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis
Based on an Athabaskan Indian legend, this novel follows two old women who get left behind by their tribe and attempt to survive the winter alone. An engaging adventure.