Browsed by
Tag: friendship

Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench tells of four women slaves who travel with their masters each summer to Tawawa House, a resort in Ohio, a free state. For the women, it is a working vacation, where they have enough leisure to swim in the hot springs and take occasional short trips. Yet even as they are dressed prettily for a special dinner-dance with their masters, they cannot forget that they are slaves, each compelled to share her master’s bed and bear his children. The…

Read More Read More

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee spent 30 years working on Pachinko, an intriguing novel about Korean immigrants in Japan before, during, and after World War II. The story begins slowly, in the manner of a 19th century novel, with information about the family background of the main character, Sunja. She is born on a small Korean island to a couple who run a boarding house. Some years before her birth, Japan took over Korea, and Koreans had to live like second-class citizens…

Read More Read More

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child is inspired by the Russian folk tale of an elderly couple who, unable to have children, used snow to form a girl who then comes to life. This novel takes place in 1920s Alaska instead of Russia, and the “elderly” couple, Mabel and Jack, are about fifty years old. Ten years have passed since Mabel gave birth to a still-born child in Pennsylvania, and her grief, and the loneliness she feels at family gatherings full of children,…

Read More Read More

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

First published in 1982, The Color Purple turns 35 this year (2017). The novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and was made into an award-winning movie in 1985. The photo above is from the cover of her biography, Alice Walker: A Life. The time and place of this novel are obscure at first, because the narrator is an uneducated young woman who doesn’t supply this information. The details of her life give us clues: this…

Read More Read More

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters

I’d never heard of Sarah Waters until very recently, and now I’m astonished that this enormously talented woman-centered author wasn’t already a favorite of mine! Now that I’ve read one book, I’m sure to read more by her. The Paying Guests almost feels like three novels in one. It takes place over the course of several months in 1922 near London, with the same characters, but the book’s feel shifts from a light domestic drama to something much more intense…

Read More Read More

The Translation of Love, by Lynne Kutsukake

The Translation of Love, by Lynne Kutsukake

Before I read this book, I was familiar with the plight of the Japanese in North America who were forced into internment camps during World War II. But I had never given a thought to the situation in Japan after the war. The Translation of Love by Japanese-Canadian author Lynne Kutsukake shines light on the human story behind the American occupation of Japan after the end of the war. The story is told in third person through the eyes of…

Read More Read More

Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier

Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier

I first read Remarkable Creatures several years ago while researching books for a blog post on Women Scientists in Novels. It features two women fossil hunters in the small English seaside town of Lyme Regis in the early 1800’s. When I read it again to prepare this review, I enjoyed it all over again. The novel is based on two real women fossil hunters: Mary Anning (a working-class woman who discovered complete skeletons of ichthyosaurus, plesiosaurus, and other ancient animals)…

Read More Read More

Women of the Silk, by Gail Tsukiyama

Women of the Silk, by Gail Tsukiyama

Although there’s not much of a plot in Women of the Silk, the appealing characters, detailed descriptions of setting, and themes of women’s independence and communal living, kept me reading. The novel follows Pei from childhood as she leaves her poor family and joins a “sisterhood” of silk workers in a village near Canton, China in the early 20th century. I enjoyed learning about the production of silk thread from cocoons, as well as the communal houses the girls and…

Read More Read More

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of March and several other historical novels. But it all started with her first novel, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, published in 2001. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy Year of Wonders because it is about a year filled with disease and tragedy. I’m glad I read it—it’s a beautiful, thought-provoking novel. It is narrated in the first person by Anna Frith, a servant to Michael Mompellion, a rector of…

Read More Read More

Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis

Two Old Women, by Velma Wallis

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival was a surprise bestseller when it was first published in 1993. This short novel (140 pages) is based on an Athabaskan Indian legend handed down to the author from her mother. Velma Wallis is an Athabaskan Indian who grew up in a remote Alaskan village. The novel takes place above the Arctic circle near the Yukon River, in an unspecified time before the arrival of the Europeans. As the…

Read More Read More