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Books About Not So Well-Behaved Women

Carole Barrowman's Picks for Women's History Month
Posted at 10:41 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 16:27:17-04

Carole Barrowman is back with best new books about not so well-behaved women in honor of women’s history month.
When the historian, Laurel Hatcher Ulrich, said, “well-behaved women seldom make history,” she didn’t necessarily mean that we should be naughty to be noticed, she meant woman sometimes need to step outside society’s boundaries to get noticed.

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone (Knopf) Stone played the ultimate femme fatale in the film, Basic Instinct. Her character wouldn’t even sit conventionally. That reputation followed her into her life. In her new memoir, she opens her story when she woke up in her hospital bed after suffering a life-threatening aneurysm and uses this second chance as the context to tell some wickedly funny and moving stories about her life and her work. If your book club is looking for a short smart read, I highly recommend this one.

The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende (Ballantine) Allende was considered “difficult and defiant” when she was growing up. She was expelled from school for “insubordination.” She’s now one of the most read and most inspiring Latina authors in the world. I teach her novel House of the Spirits regularly and my students love it. And we love her. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. This new book is her reflection on her lifelong fight against machismo and male dominance in Latin America and here.
Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman (Atria) This is Carole's debut pick this month, mainly because one of the main characters is an 83 year old grandma who is far from well-behaved (some of it from dementia, some of it not). This is a delightful story chronicling three generations of an Irish family living in a small town outside Dublin. It’s elegantly written with good humor and charmingly flawed characters.

Nora by Nuala O’Connor (Harper) Carole is channeling St. Patrick’s Day in this list too. Best-selling Irish author, O’Connor, is known for biographical novels of the lives of famous and infamous women in her novels. In her latest, O’Connor brings passion and energy to a re-imagining the life of Nora Barnacle who was the muse and the model for many of the main female characters in James Joyce’s life. Nora challenged the norms of Irish society in the early 20th century to create a life that nurtured one of literature’s iconic writers. Carole loved this novel because it showed how much power Nora wielded to shape her husband’s literary career, especially at times when he was damaging it.

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