Sunday, 4 March 2018
6 Degrees of Separation
It is March and another chain of books for 6 Degrees of Separation, hosted by Books Are My Favourite And Best. This month begins with a book published in 1990, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Summary from Wikipedia: "The basic premise of The Beauty Myth is that as the social power and prominence of women have increased, the pressure they feel to adhere to unrealistic social standards of physical beauty has also grown stronger because of commercial influences on the mass media. This pressure leads to unhealthy behaviours by women and a preoccupation with appearance in both sexes, and it compromises the ability of women to be effective in and accepted by society." It comes well into the #metoo movement and is worth thinking of.
That brings me to someone who was not happy with her looks, Charlotte Brontë and her heroine Jane Eyre. It is about a plain girl who manages to catch the hero with her brain rather than her looks. Women still fighting today to be taken for who they are rather than how they look.
Another classic comes to mind, Jane Austen's Emma. An annoying heroine who is trying matchmaking her friends into marriages. That also includes how they should look and how they should act. Luckily, she is not very successful.
A woman who did not care what people said and lived her adventurous life as she pleased is Lady Jane Digby. Mary S. Lovell has written an excellent biography of her life: Jane Digby - A Scandalous Life. She had four husbands and many lovers, among them Ludwig I of Bavaria and King Otto of Greece. She died in Damascus, Syria as the wife of Arab Sheikh Medjuel el Mezrab, who was 20 years younger than her. She was born 1807 and died in 1881.
Continuing with Mary S. Lovell and her book about The Mitford Girls - the extraordinary lives of the six Mitford sisters. A fascinating set of sisters who also lived their lives to the full.
Barbara Newhall Follett was also a woman who lived her life to the limit. She published her first novel when she was 11, she was a deck hand on a boat bound for the south China seas at 15 and was one of the first women to hike the Appalachian trail. In December 1939 when she was 25, she walked out of her apartment in New York and was never seen again. Laura Smith was thrilled by the mystery of this adventurous woman and started to investigate her disappearance in The Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of Wanderlust.
That takes me to Australia and Jane Harper's Force of Nature. A company arranges a getaway into the wilderness where two groups of five men and five women should camp and trek for three days. At the day of the meeting back at the cabin, only the men are there. In the evening the women finally arrive, but only four of them. An excellent psychological thriller where old grudges come up to the surface.
That was my chain of female authors about strong women. Two classics, two biographies and two mysteries. I had no idea where the chain would lead, but here we are.