Though the majority of published literature is centered on the male experience, we are fortunate that more and more great writing is being released that tells the story of the female experience throughout history. Women take up 50% of the world and throughout the dramas and comedies of (wo)mankind have lived dynamic lives filled with uncertainty, trials, love, and hope.
With today’s modern America experiencing another wave of feminism, it makes sense that women and men should do their best to learn about the experience of the female gender during different eras of human society. Historical Fiction is a wonderful genre and a female protagonist offers a perspective and a story that a male protagonist cannot. Below is a list of recommended Historical Fiction novels centered around the female experience, for you to explore. I promise that you will be both touched and entertained. And perhaps you will even be inspired to live your best life, adding to history, and creating an amazing story of your own.
Happy reading, bookworms!
Cora–Underground Railroad (2016) by Colson Whitehead
This PulitzerPrize winning novel that was endorsed by Barack Obama is set in perhaps the darkest period and place of United States history: Slavery in the South. It follows the story of Cora, a female slave, as she escapes the Georgia plantation where she and her mother grew up and suffered repeatedly under the hand of the plantation owners. On her long, pulse-quickening journey through marshes, orchards, towns, and cities of the South and Midwest, Cora encounters a few friends and many foes, navigating the world not only as an escaped slave, but as a female escaped slave. With admirable pluck, spirit, and some luck, she faces the brutal realities of being a black woman in America during this period. This one-of-a-kind story of slavery and freedom captures truth after truth.
Tita–Like Water for Chocolate (1989) by Laura Esquivel
The backdrop of this beautiful story is the Mexican Revolution, and the setting is Mexico near San Antonio during a period of history long before Mexico/US border issues existed as they do today. This book is many things: a love story, a story of a mother oppressing her daughter, a story of sisters, and a story of the strong spirit of transformation and rebellion during the Mexican Revolution. The protagonist uses food and recipes to communicate her repressed emotions, and the reader is consumed by Mexican Magical Realism, and questions of innocence versus tradition.
Carolina and Kasia–Lilac Girls (2016) by Martha Hall Kelly
Olanna and Kainene–Half of a Yellow Sun (2007) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Mariam and Laila–A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) by Khaled Hosseini
Nitta–Memoirs of a Geisha (1999) by Arthur Golden
Juliet—The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (2009) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This novel spent 11 weeks at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List, and is full of charm and courage. This novel recounts events and occurrences in the life of a young writer years after WWII in the UK. Through a series of letter, the reader learns that during WWII the Nazis occupied the small island of Guernsey, and years later the writer visits the island to research a novel she is writing. While speaking with families she uncovers accounts of bravery, love, and compassion during difficult times, and the reader is left with the impression that history is amazing and filled with small stories of heroism that most likely will never emerge in a text book.Do you have your own favorite Historical Fiction with Female Protagonist? Which ones?
What historical fiction work is your favorite?
Also by Anastasia: 8 Cult Classic Works Of Fiction To Read Before You’re 30
Related: Emma Watson’s Feminist Book Club Is Groundbreaking For Women Readers *And* Writers
Belletrist—Emma Roberts’ Instagram Book Club You Never Knew You Needed
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