women writers

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson

“Most kids grow up leaving something out for Santa at Christmas time when he comes down the chimney. I used to make presents for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

When I picked up a copy of Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, I couldn’t wait to start the first page. I’ve been fascinated by Winterson’s novels for years, but never imagined she would narrate her life in the coherent, linear style associated with memoirs. In Winterson’s fiction, she constantly manipulates the boundary between fantasy and reality, integrating personal experience, mythology, and philosophy into a fluid conglomeration. Although Why Be Happy does feature some of Winterson’s trademark structural experimentation, it is also an engrossing story about one woman’s experience of dysfunction, madness, violence, love, and religion.

Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography

By Peter Conn

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This vivid biography of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Good Earth recounts Buck's life in relation to the course of American and Chinese history and politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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A Portrait of Jane Austen

By Lord David Cecil

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"Not much about Jane Austen's personality can be gleaned from her works. It is from her letters, from the evidence of the friends and relations, and above all from a knowledge of the kind of life led and ideas held by the society she was born into, that we are to know her."
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84 Charing Cross Road

By Helene Hanff and Frank Doel

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Helen Hanff, a New York writer with a passion for literature, writes to a London bookstore in search of rare English classics. Frank Doel, a reserved English bookseller, answers her request. Thus begins an extraordinary relationship that spans two continents and two decades.

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Under My Skin

By Doris Lessing

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“Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Fifth Child and Memoirs of a Survivor.” The second volume of her autobiography is entitled, Walking in the Shade.

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Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1954-2008,

By Nadine Gordimer

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“…represents the full span of her works … from the twilight of white rule in South Africa to the fight to overthrow the apartheid regime, and most recently, her role over the past seven years in confronting the contemporary phenomena of violence and the dangers of HIV. The range of this book is staggering, and the work in totality celebrates the lively perseverance of the life-loving individual in the face of political tumult, then the onslaught of a globalized world.”

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Pearl Buck in China: Journey to the Good Earth

By Hilary Spurling

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“She was the child of American missionaries, but she spoke Chinese before she learned English, and her friends were the children of Chinese farmers. She took it for granted that she was Chinese herself until she was eight years old, when the terrorist uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion forced her family to flee for their lives. It was the first of many desperate flights. Flood, famine, drought, bandits, and war formed the background of Pearl's life in China… As a phenomenally successful writer and civil-rights campaigner, Buck did more than anyone else in her lifetime to change Western perceptions of China. In a world with its eyes trained on China today, she has much to tell us about what lies behind its astonishing reawakening.”

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The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Setterfield

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Margaret Lea, a London bookseller's daughter, has written an obscure biography that suggests deep understanding of siblings. She is contacted by renowned aging author Vida Winter, who finally wishes to tell her own, long-hidden, life story. Margaret travels to Yorkshire, where she interviews the dying writer, walks the remains of her estate at Angelfield and tries to verify the old woman's tale of a governess, a ghost and more than one abandoned baby. –From Publishers Weekly
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The Astounding Leigh Brackett

"Would it help if I got out and pushed?"
—Princess Leia to Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back

"She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up."
—Private detective Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep

From sharp-tongued space princesses to Bogey's grim gumshoe, some of Leigh Brackett's most enduring legacies are the scripts she wrote for movies that are considered among the 20th century's very best.