With March being Women’s History Month and Mother’s Day just around the corner, this month’s book recommendations come full of female power. These are all heroines who decide to take control of their lives, in one way or the other. Some are heavily emotional sob stories, while others are lighter and more playful. What all these books have in common is that they are all full of sheer female strength.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
Dubbed a “mother-daughter” story by the author himself, this is one of the most female-oriented books I’ve ever read. Inspired by Afghanistan, like all three of Hosseini’s books, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of two women from different generations and backgrounds whom fate forces to come together. Traumatized by the different circumstances of their lives, Mariam and Laila find common ground and develop a strong bond that allows them to survive war, abuse and the growing influence of the Taliban. Powerful and emotional, this book will have you sobbing as you wonder in awe about the strength of these two women.
No Greater Love – Danielle Steel
The sunken Titanic is an old tale, but the stories of its passengers are endless. Among them is a family going back to the United States after vacation in England. When tragedy strikes, the oldest daughter finds herself forced to step up and assume control. As the new head of the family, Edwina takes care of the family business and her younger siblings. To them, she becomes mother, sister and caretaker. A book about taking responsibility, unconditional love and sacrifice, it tells the story of what it means to be a mother, even if you aren’t one.
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
A white girl and her black caretaker and friend escape the girl’s abusive father and must seek refuge. Guided by an old relic of her mother’s, the girl, Lily Owens, finds herself led to the home of three black sisters in a South Carolina town. Beekeepers and honey-makers, the sisters take them in. Lily learns the arts of their craft, discovers long-kept family secrets and grows up amidst three strong, independent women in an era of segregation and racism. Rosaleen, the caretaker, discovers she can be black and still be a self-dependent woman with a strong voice.
Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
Probably the lightest on this list, Bridget Jones is ever-present in our minds as th actress Renée Zellweger. However, the book brings Bridget’s life and drama to paper, and her diary will have you crying from laughter. Thirty, single and living in London, Bridget could be any of us. She has weight issues, guy issues, family issues and work issues. She’s constantly trying to quit smoking. She is often lacking confidence and lost; other times, she comes off as a lunatic. She fights her way through, though. Because of her sheer ordinariness, Bridget gives us hope and empowers us by simply being herself and letting us know we’re not in it alone.
In the Eye of the Sun – Ahdaf Soueif
Set in Egypt of the 1960s and 70s, In the Eye of the Sun revolves around a young woman who learns to get over her confusion and discovers where her strength comes from. From finding true love and getting married, to traveling for studies, Asya goes through so much, and every decision she makes is a further attempt to find and understand herself. Supported by a strong mother and sister of her own, as well as by her own spirit, Asya’s journey to find herself and what she wants is a dramatic battle between her and sotiety. The charm of this book is not just in the story, but also in the way Egypt’s history is perfectly interwoven and unfolds before our eyes. Imagine a Cairo pre-6 October Bridge, when Zamalek’s Marriot was still Omar El Khayyam – the book brings it to you, and so much more.
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Sisters stick together, and bring out the best in each other. Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood are polar opposites; one rational and reasonable in her decisions, the other following her heart and emotions to a fault. Set in Victorian England, the book recounts what it’s like to be a woman then. With all their father’s property going to their half-brother, the sisters and their mother have to begin their life all over again. Throughout the transition, the sisters find love, lose it and learn that there needs to be a balance between sense and sensibility.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Already recommended as a holiday book, this is another perfect portrayal of female bonding. Devastated after her mother’s death, Cheryl Strayed loses her way and her life falls to pieces. Years later, she goes on a solo hiking trip to come to terms with her grief and find herself. Along the way, we get a glimpse of the amazing bond they shared. The book is an ode to the unique relationship that brings together mother and daughter.