Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spotlight on Women's Fiction

Do you just want to read a good book about women's lives, written by a woman? You may be looking for "women's fiction", not in itself a genre but a recognized subsection of fiction which includes novels that may have romantic, suspense, or literary themes. Rebecca Vnuk, author of Women's Fiction Authors: A Research Guide, defines women's fiction thusly:

...these are novels that explore the lives of female protagonists, focusing on all kinds of relationships, be it lovers, spouses, parents, children, friends, or members of a community. The common thread is that the central character is female, and the main thrust of the story is something happening in the life of that woman (as opposed to the overall theme being a romance or a mystery of some sort). Emotions and relationships are the common thread between books that belong in this category. A woman is the star of the story, and her emotional development drives the plot.

It still can be a bit of a nebulous description of a polarizing concept, Vnuk admits, but she argues that if the main character being a woman is essential to the plot, if there are romantic elements but there is "more to the story", if it is written by a woman (Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, and Chris Bohjalian are authors she notes have written books with female protagonists, but "their stories identify much more with romance, gentle reads, or literary fiction"), and if you are reading the novel not for its use of language but for its woman-centric plot, you are probably reading women's fiction. True women's fiction, Vnuk asserts, are "books that get into a female character’s head and heart".

Where do you weigh in on the question of "women's fiction"? If you are a devotee, we have a list of some recommended reads for you below.  If you are not a fan of the "women's fiction" classification, let us know why in the comments!

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen

And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry

The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton

Murder 101 by Maggie Barbieri

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie [eBook]

The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley

The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service by Beth Kendrick

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

You Are the Love of My Life by Susan Richards Shreve

10 authors all women's fiction fans should know: Elizabeth Berg; Barbara Taylor Bradford; Barbara Delinsky; Emily Giffin; Jane Green; Kristin Hannah; Jodi Picoult; Luanne Rice; Danielle Steel; and Jennifer Weiner.

Lists compiled with help from articles in Booklist magazine, including:

"Top 10 Women's Fiction: 2013"

"Rebecca's Rules: Defining Women's Fiction"

"No Clue Where to Shelve These: 6 Women's Fiction Novels That Think They're Mysteries"

No comments: