Back in 2016, the year I started blogging, I curated a list of 100 women writers that I wanted to read during my lifetime inspired by Jean from Jean Bookishthoughts. At the time, I was reading far more books by men than by women and was eager to change that. I’m pleased to inform that I’m now reading significantly more books by women! And I’m not even forcing myself to tick names off that list (I still haven’t read the vast majority of them). I’ve been reading and cherishing books by authors that aren’t on the list, thanks mostly to other bookish content creators introducing me to great female writers.
When I decided to pursue that long-term reading project, Jean’s own list was my starting point. I just included some other authors that I had already read and a couple of Portuguese writers. While I didn’t enjoy the books that I read by every single one of the authors on the list, I’ve read books by other talented women that I now wish were part of it. International Women’s Day seemed like the perfect time to mention them!
Maria Judite de Carvalho
When I curated my list of 100 women writers to read in my lifetime, I hadn’t heard of the Portuguese author Maria Judite de Carvalho, who was born in 1921 and died in 1998. Her work only came on my radar around three years ago. I’ve recently read Os Armários Vazios, Empty Wardrobes in the English translation. It’s a novella with an unreliable narrator that tells the story of how three women let their lives be influenced by men. Another book I’m interested in by her is Tanta Gente, Mariana.
Maria Teresa Horta
The Portuguese author Maria Teresa Horta is one of the three Marias. Together with Maria Isabel Barreno and Maria Velho da Costa, she wrote the book Novas Cartas Portuguesas (New Portuguese Letters) in 1972. As it criticised the fascist regime, the colonial war and the discrimination of women, they were taken to court. Regretfully, when I wrote the list, I added the other two Marias but I forgot about Maria Teresa Horta.
Last year, I read her novella Ema and was impressed by the poignancy of the writing style. It’s a collection of snippets about the lives of three characters called Ema and how they intersect. I’m also curious to read her collection of short stories Meninas and her poetry collection Paixão.
Before the well-deserved hype surrounding Hamnet, the books by Maggie O’Farrell had never caught my attention. So, it is not surprising that I made the mistake of not adding her to the list of 100 women writers to read. The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020 presents the fictional story about the death of the son of William Shakespeare, who is never mentioned by his name. The emotions of the characters are incredibly palpable throughout. I still don’t know which other books by Maggie O’Farrell I want to read.
It’s a real shame that I hadn’t heard of the Belgian Amélie Nothomb before curating my list of 100 women writers, because I’ve already read and enjoyed two of her books. The Life of Hunger is a fictional memoir about a girl who is constantly hungry for all that life has to offer. Sulphuric Acid, on the other hand, is a satire on reality TV. It questions why people choose to watch it even when all that it has to offer is suffering. In the future, I also want to read Strike Your Heart.
The Silent Companions is the only book that I’ve read by Laura Purcell so far. Set in three different time periods, it has as main character Elsie Bainbridge, who is a patient at St. Joseph’s asylum and is being accused of murder. In 1865, she moved to her late husband’s abandoned country estate. As soon as she arrived there, she started hearing strange noises coming from a room where there were some wooden figures. It is equally intriguing, compelling and unnerving. I have two other books by Laura Purcell on my wish list: Bone China and The Corset.
Madeline Miller is another author that impressed me at first read. Circe is a retelling of an Ancient Greek myth that reads like a fictional memoir full of tangible emotions. The main character, Circe, is the daughter of the god of sun, Helios, and the nymph Perse. She is sentenced to exile after using witchcraft against her own kind. Throughout the novel, Miller believably explores the meaning of love and the fear of losing someone. I also want to read The Song of Achilles sometime soon.
Have you read and enjoyed books by any of these authors? Tell me in the comments!