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Riveting Reads with Resilient Female Heroines

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been inspired by books about fierce female heorines who bravely fight battles and courageously overcome any obstacles that they encounter. It seems as if these fictional female characters encourage me to work through my own challenages that I face in my daily life. As I read brillant books with determined and daring female characters, my ability to work through problems that I encounter at school, work or in my personal life is truly affected. I feel as though I have embodied the characteristics of these female heroines that I admire, and that they have made me a stronger and more resilent woman. Below, I have provided reviews of wonderful books about admirable, female heorines who refuse to give up despite their unfortunate situations that are definitely worth reading.

1.)  Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed:

Called “an EERIE and UNFORGETTABLE story” by the New York Review of Books, Joyce Carol Oate’s The Accursed is truly a work of Gothic fiction replete with horror, romance, and the supernatural. The typical 18th century Gothic plot of a new and naïve young bride riding off with a mysterious, evil man who is not her husband at first did not seem that appealing to me. I thought it was strange that Oates who usually crafts complex novels that weave in modern day issues would write a stereotypical Gothic novel. Of course knowing her knack for creating compelling stories that are seeping with hot button issues, I continued to read on and learned that The Accursed was not a simply paying homage to Gothic novels of the 18th century. Oates, who has taught at Princeton University since 1978, resourcefully used her own New Jersey college town as the place for her ghost story and does not leave out the issues that actually haunt her town today. Her 600-plus page sticks to the roots of Gothic novel storyline with its enthralling themes of possession, power, and loss but is entirely relevant to the terror that still exists in today’s world with salient allusions to racism and feminism. As always Oates work is exceptional with its strong psychological insight and its stirring supernatural elements that will seduce you quicker than a hot male demon.

2.)   Adriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife:

A novel with love, family, war, loss, betrayal, and risk at its base practically equals an enticing summer read. The award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker Andriana Trigiani’s The Shoemaker’s Wife. The two main character’s Ciro and Enza have a momentary but powerful connection in the picturesque Italian Alps that they call home. Do not be fooled by title of The Shoemaker’s Wife and think that the female heroine is a dependent wife defined by her husband’s career. Trigiani’s Enza is utterly bereft of a companion and must gather the strength to build a life without her shoemaker. Despite moments of heartbreak, loss, and betrayal, Trigiana’s tale is heartwarming. At the end, of her novel I was even literally warmed up by her delectable recipes for treats such as Pot De Crème and Gnocchi di Patate that were referenced in the novel. 

3.)  Wendy Lawless’s Chanel Bonfire

In a memoir about her sad, corrupt and heartbreaking childhood, Wendy Lawless retells her suspenseful story about growing up with a very glamorous and beautiful but equally deranged, psychotic and evil mother. Her egregiously ambition mother who was just a small-town blonde from Kansas City attempts to climb the social ladder by deserting her Midwestern first marriage for the luxuries of life in New York and London, taking her two small, innocent daughters with her. Wendy attempts to shield her little sister Robbie from the worst of their mother’s capricious moods, excessive drinking, and even her suicide attempts. However, Wendy is hardly successful in quelling the destructive path of her mother’s rage as her mother breaks their toys, locks them in closets, and blames them for her miserable life and subsequent depression. In very small steps, Wendy and her sister are able to distance themselves from their melancholic past and tyrannical mother and find hope and love. Chanel Bonfire is a story of acute suffering, pain, depression, and fear, yet beyond these tragic elements lies strength, hope, love, and happiness.

4.)  Jennifer McVeigh’s The Fever Tree

British author Jennifer McVeigh’s The Fever Tree takes you right into the heart of the 19th century diamond rush in Africa. McVeigh’s captivating debut novel follows the sophisticated, lady-like, and fashionable newly wed Frances Irvine into the enthralling and rough terrains of in the Southern Cape of Africa to marry a man she does not love, Dr. Edwin Matthews. En route to Africa, the recently engaged Frances soon falls for handsome diamond trader William Westbrooke. However, Frances discovers that she is beguiled by Westbrooke and that he is far from the gentleman she perceived him as with his loose morals and broken promises. After suffering from heartbreak, Frances is compelled to finish her journey to meet her husband Dr. Matthews in the Karoo where he is on a mission to end the inhumane treatment of the native Africans under European colonial rule. McVeigh’s extensive research and her realistic recount of the deplorable conditions that the natives of Africa are coerced to live under is unbearable to read at times, but her strong female heroine compels the reader at the start of the novel to stick with her to the end of her journey of adventure, loss, heartbreak, love, and hope.

5.)   Tara Conklin’s The House Girl

Tara Conklin, a corporate attorney living in New York City, never openly declared herself as a writer before the release of her debut novel The House Girl, even though the main character of her new novel Josephine Bell haunted her dreams at night and consumed her thoughts.  After several years of writing her novel, Conklin’s The House Girl soared on top best sellers lists. Conklin’s novel crisscrosses the life of Josephine Bell, a teenage house slave on a Virginia tobacco farm who dreams of escaping her brutal, tyrannous master and that of modern-day attorney Lina Sparrow, who is assisting with a lawsuit seeking reparations for slavery. Conklin digs deep into her characters’ minds and uncovers a story about universal human experience, freedom, love, and what it truly means to be alive.

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