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International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. These books offer portraits of incredible female characters, some fortunate and others not, some recognisable and others unfamiliar because of where, when or how they live, but all of them utterly glorious.
· Toni Morrison “explores the mythic power of femininity” with the story of Sula, a young black girl who is clever, poor and uncompromising.
· An unnamed young woman impetuously marries a wealthy widower and is whisked away to his home, Manderley, only to find a household haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca, in Daphne du Maurier’s disturbingly gothic novel.
· In a collection of stories for YA readers, Lani Wendt Young builds a picture of what it means to be an Afakasi Woman, as women of the Pacific deal with love, family and the effects of climate change.
· Rewriting classical myth, Madeline Miller offers a feminine and very moving perspective of the life of Circe.
· Lila is a girl living on the fringes of society, whose life is reshaped when she seeks shelter from the rain inside a church in the small town of Gilead, in the novel by Marilyn Robinson.
· Ruling at the head of a large extended family is The Matriarch, a formidable woman whose strength hides a great sadness, in Witi Ihimaera’s classic New Zealand novel.
· Perhaps the most woeful and innocent of heroines is Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, in which Tess is abused and mistreated first by a reprobate and then by the man she loves.
· The first novel by Elizabeth Gaskell tells the story of Mary Barton, set among the Victorian working class of Manchester.
· When Lola loses both her husband and her friend in a freak accident, she embarks on an exploration of life and love in Elizabeth Smither’s novel.
· Described by Leo Tolstoy as his first true novel, Anna Karenina centres on the affair between Anna and a dashing cavalry officer in Imperial Russia, leading to their exile from polite society.
· The life of Thérèse Desqueyroux, in the novel by by François Mauriac, is passionate and tortured; she is charged with attempting to poison her husband, is banished, escapes to Paris, and spends her final years in solitude.