Enrich your reading with this second selection of iconic pieces of women’s writing from 4th Estate.
Joan Didion – The White Album
WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES IN ORDER TO LIVE
Looking for plausible stories as the Sixties are about to implode, Joan Didion sets out, notebook in hand, on a now-legendary journey into the hinterland of the American psyche: she kills time waiting for Jim Morrison to show up, parties with Janis Joplin, visits the Black Panthers in prison, watches a campus combust, dines with Tate and Polanski, buys dresses with Charlie Manson’s girls, and gravitates towards biker movies ‘because there on screen was some news I was not getting from the New York Times’. She and her reader emerge, cauterized, from this devastating tour of the myths and realities of that age of self-discovery into the harsh light of the morning after…
Hilary Mantel – Eight Months on Ghazzah Street
From the two-time Man Booker Prize winner, a prescient and haunting novel of life in Saudi Arabia.
Frances Shore is a cartographer by trade, a maker of maps, but when her husband’s work takes her to Saudi Arabia she finds herself unable to map the Kingdom’s areas of internal darkness. The regime is corrupt and harsh, the expatriates are hard-drinking money-grubbers, and her Muslim neighbours are secretive, watchful. The streets are not a woman’s territory; confined in her flat, she finds her sense of self begin to dissolve. She hears whispers, sounds of distress from the ’empty’ flat above her head. She has only rumours, no facts to hang on to, and no one with whom to share her creeping unease. As her days empty of certainty and purpose, her life becomes a blank – waiting to be filled by violence and disaster.
Elizabeth Smart – By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
Elizabeth Smart’s passionate fictional account of her intense love-affair with the poet George Barker, described by Angela Carter as ‘Like Madame Bovary blasted by lightening . . . A masterpiece’. One day, while browsing in a London bookshop, Elizabeth Smart chanced upon a slim volume of poetry by George Barker – and fell passionately in love with him through the printed word. Eventually they communicated directly and, as a result of Barker’s impecunious circumstances, Elizabeth Smart flew both him and his wife from Japan, where he was teaching, to join her in the United States. Thus began one of the most extraordinary, intense and ultimately tragic love affairs of our time. They never married but Elizabeth bore George Barker four children and their relationship provided the impassioned inspiration for one of the most moving and immediate chronicles of a love affair ever written – By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Originally published in 1945, this remarkable book is now widely identified as a classic work of poetic prose which, more than six decades later, has retained all of its searing poignancy, beauty and power of impact.
Germaine Greer – The Female Eunuch
The ground-breaking, worldwide bestselling feminist tract.
A worldwide bestseller, translated into over twelve languages, THE FEMALE EUNUCH is a landmark in the history of the women’s movement. Drawing liberally from history, literature and popular culture, past and present, Germaine Greer’s searing examination of women’s oppression is at once an important social commentary and a passionately argued masterpiece of polemic.
Probably the most famous, most widely read book on feminism ever.
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