Have you ever read a book that has stayed with you long after you put it down? I tend to rush through books, so it isn’t often that a story stays with me for more than a day. But these books are the exception.
The Passengers | John Mars
Themes: Prejudice, power
When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-driving cars in the UK, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.
The passengers are- a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife (who are travelling in separate vehicles) and a suicidal man.
It’s the public’s job to judge who should survive. This novel brings out the worst in humanity, and sadly, it isn’t surprising who the public decide to ‘kill off’. I first read this book almost two years ago, and I think about it at least once a week. This future world is plausible, which is what makes it so terrifying.
Handmaid’s Tale | Margaret Atwood
Themes: Gender roles, survival, religion
I have several female friends who I chat to religiously about season four of the Handmaid’s Tale each week. Yet, I don’t have any men in my network who watch it. My guess is that this show, loosely based on the book of the same name, paints men in such a bad light that they don’t feel comfortable watching.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian book that focuses on the story of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead (formally North America). In Gilead, women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. Offred (as in, ‘Of Fred’ – owned by Fred) serves in the household of the Commander (Fred) and his wife. Under the new social order, Offred has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile.
Persuasion | Jane Austen
Themes: Second chances, true love
I know this book isn’t for everyone; it was written over two hundred years ago and was the last novel fully completed by my hero, Jane Austen. What I love most about this book is that it is a story of second chances.
Anne Elliot is woman of quiet charm and deep feelings. When she was nineteen she fell in love with a naval officer, the fearless and headstrong Captain Wentworth. But the young man had no fortune, and Anne allowed herself to be persuaded by a family friend to give him up. Now, eight years later, Wentworth has returned to the neighborhood, a rich man and still unwed. Anne’s never-diminished love is muffled by her pride, and he seems cold and unforgiving. What happens as the two are thrown together in the social world of Bath—and as an eager new suitor appears for Anne—is touchingly and wittily told by Austen.
This is one for the romantics, and you will find yourself often thinking about Anne Elliot and her bravery after reading this novel.
Elizabeth MacArthur: A Life at the Edge of the World
Themes: Resilience, women’s empowerment
In 1788 a young gentlewoman raised in the vicarage of an English village married a handsome, haughty and penniless army officer. Her husband, John Macarthur, took credit for establishing the Australian wool industry and would feature on the two-dollar note, but it was practical Elizabeth who managed their holdings – while dealing with the results of John’s manias: duels, quarrels, court cases, a military coup, long absences overseas, grandiose construction projects and, finally, his descent into certified insanity.
This biography was an eye-opener, and is one of many newish books that is seeing women from the past and their achievements finally being recognised.