Those of you who know me know that I recommend reading a fair amount of beach trash during the summer. I’ve been doing that, mostly in the mystery category.
This summer I’ve also read two books worthy of writing about. Both have kick-ass female characters. The first is by L.M. Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books. I didn’t read these books until I was an adult. This summer I ran across a reference to some of her other books, the Emily series. And then a friend recommended The Blue Castle, supposedly the only Montgomery book written for an adult audience. The main character is a woman a bit like Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. She is past her prime for the marriage market. She has family members who dominate and take advantage of her. She is useful in a mousy sort of way. There’s a huge turn of events that lead to a spunky character who takes charge of her own life. The ending is less than satisfying, but all in all, a good summer read.
The second book, Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, is set in 17th century England during a plague year. While the plague itself is horrifying, the fascinating parts of the book are the religious struggles of the community and the emergence of two female characters. The religious struggles made me note the book of Job in the margins quite often. The two women remind me of the Bechdel test for feminist movies, which has two women characters who talk about something other than a man. These two women talk about herbs, healing, their friendship, and even work a lead mine, which belongs to a young orphan girl. That scene alone is about as kick-ass as it gets. If you read this one, you’ll also want to read Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing, set in 17th century New England, and also featuring a kick-ass woman.
Laura Bloxham was born in Seattle and raised in the Seattle Public Library. She loves baseball and reading mysteries. She will be teaching Holocaust Literature this fall.