What is women's fiction?

Goodreads makes me tag books when I review them. Somehow I got the idea I was meant to tag them by genre, and somewhere along the line I started tagging some books as dealing with "women's issues." Of course, that kind of begs the question, what I a women's issue. And should I really just have tagged them women's fiction?

A female protagonist, possibly wounded, probably by the men in her life, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds... or maybe not overcoming... used, abused... I'm not sure if this makes it women's fiction any more than a male protagonist struggling to recover from a mountain of trials makes something men's fiction. As a girl I preferred my brother's action adventure stories to those with simperingly beautiful girls that were offered to me. As a teen I loved science fiction with adventurous scientists (usually men) solving mysteries of the universe. As a young adult I liked men's action stories, maybe war stories, and more. And now... well now, I'm just not sure it's men's or women's fiction--just fiction about real people in a messed up world.

That said, here are some women's books for you to peruse over coffee. Enjoy.

Memory’s Hostage by Margaret Pinard takes readers further into the past, a time when politics, science and spies kept the balance of peace, and a young woman awakens in a stranger's house in 1883 with no recollection of how she got there. Enjoy this bright lively read with some bright lively two-star coffee and imagine how things used to be.

Broken Chains by Emiliya Ahmadova takes American readers further afield, to Azerbaijan, Kenya and beyond. A sequence of female protagonists repeat the mistakes of the past, falling to lies and abuse, and the reader longs to see the cycle broken. Ultimately hopeful, Broken Chains is a dark difficult read. most intriguing for its depiction of different cultures. Enjoy with some dark five-star coffee.

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer tells of every woman's nightmare--the loss of a child. Intriguingly, the story's told through the eyes of mother and daughter, offering an interesting perspective on how easy it might be to become "lost." There are some surprising twists and turns in a story that feels scarily real, and the reader is pulled deeply into the plot. A haunting novel, elegantly constructed, enjoy this one with some elegant four-star coffee.

And finally, having touched on fictional loss, here's a non-fiction book offering wisdom for women encountering real loss in their lives. Walking the labyrinth of my heart by Dianna Vagianos Armentrout. This one surely counts as "women's issues," dealing as it does with the death, before birth, of a child--the worse nightmare because it was true for the author. Combining essay, poetry and journal, it offers gentle wisdom, comfort, and serious food for thought, a well-balanced blend that's best read over some well-balanced three-star coffee.


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