Lewis Carroll, the beloved author of Alice in Wonderland, once wrote that “words mean more than we mean to express when we use them, so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means.”
This made us wonder about the books that we love and if there was anything special that the author was trying to share with us in addition to the story they had written…it turns out there was.
Here’s a closer look at a few authors who aimed to empower their female readers to take on the world.
The Moomin books by Tove Jansson
Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson used her delightful books about trolls to subtly challenge views on how women should live and behave. The books are full of strong female characters, from straight-talking Little My, to calmly confident Moominmamma, who reflects the fierce work ethic that was instilled into her by Jansson’s own mother.
This new hardback edition of The Invisible Child is part of a special partnership between Oxfam and Moomin Characters to raise funds for Oxfam projects supporting women and girls worldwide, because, as Moominmamma would tell you, every girl should be able to dream as big as every boy. Every woman has the right to make a fair living for herself and her family. And nobody deserves to be held back by violence, abuse or discrimination. The story is about an isolated heroine who regains her voice and takes her rightful place in the world when she discovers equality and respect as part of the much loved Moomin family.
But wait, there’s more! 2019 will see the launch of a new Moomin TV series, which has all kinds of celebrities doing the voiceovers, such as Kate Winslet and Rosamund Pike.
Mills & Boon Modern Girl’s Guide to Working 9 to 5 by Ada Adverse
It may come as something of a surprise to see Mills & Boon trying to stake a claim in the feminist literature market with their new series Modern Girl’s Guides. Described as “funny, feisty and feminist” There are four short hardbacks in this series and each are dedicated to a specific topic, such as relationships, 21st-century life and self-improvement at the office. The books are full of references to mansplaining, blurred lines, feminazis and dealing to the patriarchy and while they may not be as strong as other feminist literature, it’s nice to see that this traditional ‘escapist romantic fiction’ is starting to address the unfair treatment of women.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Atwood
A dark, enduring vision of the future has been made into a major TV series which reaped many trophies in the recent award season. I have both read it and watched it and it is one of the few times that I found both the book and the tv show to be amazing.
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire, neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful vision of the future gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s irony, wit and astute perception.
All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey
From columnist and critic Alana Massey, this book is a collection of essays examining the intersection of the personal with pop culture through the lives of pivotal female figures, from Sylvia Plath to Britney Spears.
Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal. It is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard. But it is, above all, a paean to the celebrities who have shaped a generation of women, from Scarlett Johansson to Amber Rose, Lil’ Kim, Anjelica Huston, Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. These reflections aim to reimagine these women’s legacies, and in the process, teach us new ways of forgiving ourselves.
and another of our favourites for the little people in our lives…
Olivia and the Fairy Princess by Ian Falconer
In a hilarious endeavour, Olivia embarks upon a quest for identity and individuality. It seems there are far too many pink and sparkly princesses around these days and Olivia has had quite enough! She needs to stand out. And so, in typical ‘Olivia’ style, she sets about creating a whole array of fantastically dressed princesses… and shows us that everyone can be individual and special.