Tag Archives: women

** Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Overwhelmed Southern Californian woman hires young live-in-nanny to take care of her young son so she can write about the travails of raising her older one (whom she conveniently forgets to mention during the hiring process — but she also forgets to check references and other details one might think are important). Add a couple of strange mothers (the nanny’s and her employer’s), hidden agendas for everyone, and messiness ensues. There are enough deeper moments to enjoy the story, but it’s not much more than a book-length satire of upper-middle class Angelenos.

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Filed under New fiction

** Shoot Like A Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar

The author of Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front was a helicopter pilot for the National Guard who flew search-and-rescue missions in Afghanistan and undertakes to share her training, her combat experience, and her fight to eliminate the military’s rules that exclude women from serving in combat roles. It’s quite a ride! Sadly the writing is only serviceable, replete with sometimes impenetrable military acronyms, and often boringly detailed when she recounts her (otherwise thrilling) missions. Still, I enjoyed the peek into what life is like for women military pilots.

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Filed under True story

* You’re The Only One I Can Tell by Deborah Tannen

I often felt like an alien reading You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships, as it twists around stories of women who seem so extremely caricatured that they don’t much resemble the ones I know, let alone my friends. It seems that none want to speak plainly, leaving others to misinterpret their desires or opinions, and that all find hidden meanings in the most innocent of actions or comments. How complicated and perhaps not so representative of the real world.

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Filed under Non fiction

*** Unmentionable by Therese Oneill

In a chatty and utterly funny style, Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners runs through 19th Century impractical clothes, doubtful hygiene, and terrible social constraints for women. It’s hilarious but also a reminder of how much more comfortable life is today, and how we never stop to think about it!

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Filed under Non fiction

** The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

The heroine of The Red Car has an abusive husband and a job she could apparently do in her sleep when an old mentor dies, leaving her the famous red car. So she flies across the country and tries to find herself again, in what I thought were rather cliched northern California moves. Still,  her self-talk is well-observed and the first half of the (short) story hangs together quite well.

 

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Filed under New fiction

*** The Crossing by Andrew Miller

The Crossing is the portrait of a strong woman who makes her own way, regardless of custom, betrayal, or tragedies. It will eventually put her on a small boat crossing the Atlantic — by herself. This is not a happy-ever-after story, or even a temporarily-happy story, but the heroine is dogged, strong, unforgettable.

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Filed under New fiction

** A House Full of Females by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 is a fascinating, detailed account of women’s lives during the early years of the Mormon Church. The author painstakingly combed through diaries and other original documents, even quilts, to find stories of real women, some famous and others not. The ignorant reader, like me, will learn a lot about the painful start of the church and the violent attacks that inspired the move to Utah. And about the very busy, very hard lives of frontier women.

Then, there is the history of plural marriage, and although the author faithfully transcribes the thoughts of the women, who certainly had a wide variety of opinions on the matter, she often seems to represent that women “in favor” of plural marriage just loved the idea. Methinks that she ought to consider a bit more in-depth the social environment of these women. Sure, they could say they were against plural marriage (they could vote, after all, at a time when most American women could not), but in a society when unmarried women were quite vulnerable, and in a church where it was presented as dogma, opposition must have been hazardous. And while the Mormon Church did have some progressive policies towards divorce that was favorable to women, it’s clear that the wonderful benefits of plural marriage were accorded to men: no women-led, multi-husband family was dreamed of…

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Filed under Non fiction