Literary Lull Ended By These Ladies

For a while there, no book seemed to keep my interest.  Could reading just not be my thing anymore? Then these three books came into my life.  I couldn’t read them fast enough.  All are written by female authors.  All feature female main characters.  And all are memorable.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, 2013

Talk about a unique premise.  This book’s main character, Ursula, starts life over and over.  That is to say, she dies of various illnesses and accidents but then gets a “do-over.” She vaguely remembers bad events (think deja vu) and is able to affect a better fate for herself and others. British author Atkinson frames most of the story in World War II Europe, an oft-used setting I’m beginning to weary of.  Atkinson’s chapters also jump wildly between time and place, a literary device that is becoming all too common.  But her writing is so good and the research so thorough that I found myself enjoying the chaos and learning some history in the process.

A Lost Lady by Willa Cather, 1923

I developed a growing dislike for Mrs. Forrester, the “lost lady” in this book.  She is described as beautiful and gracious.  But she marries a rich, much older man and unsurprisingly becomes restless and has an affair. When she is widowed and no longer young, she shocks everyone in town by taking up with a disreputable young man.  The American frontier is the backdrop for the story.  But progress is taking a foothold.  One of her last male admirers wonders why the aging Mrs. Forrester won’t just respectfully fade away like the bygone pioneer period to which she belongs. But he knows “she prefers life on any terms.” No matter her faults, I have to admire her for that.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, 2017

This is one of those rare books I actually bought…at full price!  Was it a good deal?  Yes!  Eleanor Oliphant is one of the strangest, saddest, funniest characters I’ve ever met.  Some of the chapters are rough.  There are tragic parts.  But there is humor throughout (the laugh-out-loud kind) and triumph at book’s end.  This is Honeyman’s debut novel. I hope it’s not her last.