What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Suggest books for me > Memorable women in history

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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (AnnaMatsuyama) | 370 comments I'm looking for well written and objective nonfiction or historically accurate fiction about real memorable woman.

I'm specially looking for books about:
Mary Seacole
Boudicca
Florence Nightingale
Pocahontas
Magda Goebbels
Amelia Earhart

I'm looking not only for famous but also for infamous women biographies


message 2: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 539 comments Female Caligula: Ranavalona, the Mad Queen of Madagascar - was an interesting read - it was about her rise to power in Madagascar and how she murdered many ppl - I think that would put her in the infamous category


message 3: by Lobstergirl, sniffing Sharpies (new)

Lobstergirl | 20572 comments Mod
A really interesting and well-written bio of the woman married to a Churchill and a Harriman, who became a huge power in the Democratic party though she was a Brit. (I can't remember if she became an American citizen.) She was always ready and willing to sleep her way to the top, was incredibly manipulative, and craved money and fame. Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman

I don't know if there are too many biographies of Susan Sontag, but she was definitely interesting and absolutely brilliant.
Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon

I've just started this one. Sand was considered one of the great novelists of her day, though today she's perhaps more known for her unconventional life (numerous affairs, sometimes dressing like a man and smoking cigars).
George Sand: A Biography

I haven't read these yet so I can't personally vouch for them, but they're on my to read list:
A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley
Marie Antoinette: The Journey
Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up
Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice
Madame de Pompadour
Vera: (wife of Vladimir Nabokov)


message 4: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Nov 07, 2012 11:24AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (Themis-Athena) | 71 comments All of Antonia Fraser's biographies of women come highly recommended; in addition to Marie Antoinette (see Lobstergirl's post) in particular:
The Warrior Queens (also contains a chapter on Boudica)
Mary Queen of Scots
The Wives of Henry VIII
The Weaker Vessel (not on "remarkable" women individuals, but on women's remarkable struggle for recognition in 17th century society.)

On Henry VIII's wives, see also:
The Six Wives of Henry VIII, as well as especially
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (a doorstop if I ever saw one, but well worth the read);

and on the two Maries -- Mary Queen of Scots and Marie Antoinette -- two excellent, not recent but eminently readable bios by Stefan Zweig:
Marie Stuart
Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman

If you're interested in Amelia Earhart, you may also want to take a look at Beryl Markham. There are two biographies of her, whose main difference is in whether they personally interviewed Markham and whether they believe she herself authored the memoir West with the Night (which is in itself highly remcommended reading material first and foremost):
The Lives of Beryl Markham by Errol Trzebinski (didn't interview Markham and doubts she herself wrote West With the Night), and
Straight on Till Morning: The Biography of Beryl Markham by Mary S. Lovell (did interview Markham herself and believes her to have authored West With the Night).

Mary S. Lovell also wrote a biography of Amelia Earhart: Sound of Wings,
as well as about Queen Elizabeth I's confidante, the very remarkable Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527-1608 (whose husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, was given custody of Mary Queen of Scots after she had been taken prisoner by Elizabeth I) -- this, too, comes highly recommended, both for its subject and for the biography itself.

A descendant of Bess of Hardwick was the scandalous Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire (a great-great-great-grand aunt of Diana Princess of Wales), whose best-selling biography by Amanda Foreman was recently adapted as a movie.

Going further back in history, there are, of course, the queens who predated Elizabeth I:
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth (nonfiction)
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life (nonfiction)
Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English (nonfiction)
as well as in fiction, Sharon Kay Penman's Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy:
When Christ and His Saints Slept
Time and Chance
Devil's Brood

ETA: Changing countries for a moment, Robert K. Massie published an excellent biography of Tsarina Catherine the Great just a year ago: Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman.

Then, there are the trailblazing medieval women writers, such as:
Christine de Pizan: Her Life and Works
Hildegard of Bingen: A Visionary Life,

18th century society ladies, in addition to the Duchess of Devonshire perhaps most notably the correspondence (Selected Letters) of Madame de Sévigné,

the 18th and 19th century hostesses of literary and intellectual circles:
Madame de Stael
Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Stael
Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess,

and for 19th and early 20th century women writers you may also want to have a look at some of the biographies by Claire Tomalin and Jenny Uglow, such as
The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
Jane Austen
Katherine Mansfield
George Eliot
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories

This is just to highlight a few books on the subject -- you may find further inspiration on these Goodreads lists:
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/29... (Women in Medieval and Renaissance Europe)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/90... (Trailblazing [pre-women's lib] Women Adventurers)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/91... (The Bloomsbury Group)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/90... (Virginia Woolf)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/18... (Memoirs by Women)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/15... (Women's Journals and Diaries in History)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14... (Women's Correspondence/ Letters in History)
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/20... (Biographies of Significant Historical Women)


message 5: by Marina (new)

Marina Manda Scott has a series of books about Boudica.


message 6: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Nov 06, 2012 02:50AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (Themis-Athena) | 71 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "I don't know if there are too many biographies of Susan Sontag, but she was definitely interesting and absolutely brilliant."

Speaking of Sontag and scandalous women of their day, do you happen to have read Sontag's The Volcano Lover: A Romance? I've got it sitting on my TBR list and have heard good things about it but haven't gotten 'round to it yet ... Should I be moving it up a few rungs, any thoughts?


message 7: by Lindsay (new)

Lindsay | 27 comments Florence Nightingale: The Making of an Icon was interesting and well-written.


message 8: by Lobstergirl, sniffing Sharpies (new)

Lobstergirl | 20572 comments Mod
Themis-Athena wrote: "Speaking of Sontag and scandalous women of their day, do you happen to have read Sontag's The Volcano Lover: A Romance? I've got it sitting on my TBR list and have heard good things about it but haven't gotten 'round to it yet ... Should I be moving it up a few rungs, any thoughts? "

I haven't read any of her fiction, actually. I've only read reviews of it here and there.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (Themis-Athena) | 71 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "Themis-Athena wrote: "Speaking of Sontag and scandalous women of their day, do you happen to have read Sontag's The Volcano Lover: A Romance? I've got it sitting on my TBR list and have heard good ..."

Oh, well. Thanks anyway! :)

Anna: The Volcano Lover: A Romance deals with the love triangle involving Emma Hamilton, her husband (Sir William Hamilton) and Lord Nelson.

And speaking of women rising to great hights from humble origins, there IS, of course, also the Merry Monarch's favorite mistress ...
Nell Gwynne: A Passionate Life
Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King


message 10: by Lobstergirl, sniffing Sharpies (new)

Lobstergirl | 20572 comments Mod
There is also Lytton Strachey's famous portrait of Florence Nightingale in Eminent Victorians.


message 11: by Lobstergirl, sniffing Sharpies (last edited Nov 07, 2012 05:59PM) (new)

Lobstergirl | 20572 comments Mod
Magda Goebbels: The First Lady Of The Third Reich
Kirkus: "The author of this bathos-and-bombast is the son of Otto Meissner, head of Hitler's chancellory, who knew the parties concerned and now sets out--with the aid of Magda's one-time sister-in-law--to demonstrate that she was a political innocent in thrall to the demonic Joseph. It's not an edifying story, a plausible story, or even, here, a particularly exciting one. It's also encumbered with Meissner's thesis that Magda was a lifelong closet Buddhist....Pernicious piffle."

Magda Goebbels

I have not read these.


message 12: by Kate (new)

Kate Farrell | 2277 comments Mod
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields was pretty good. A little frustrating since Harper Lee is a private soul.

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak was mostly enjoyable, and sure filled in details on Carolyn Keene's creation.

Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her is a good book about someone who gave just about everything to help others.

Tapestry Of Hope: Survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen by Alice Kern is the story of an incredible woman. She lives in or near Portland and came into my classroom to speak to seventh graders about her life and experiences. Imagine a warm afternoon in May in a small classroom with 90 seventh graders sitting on chairs, desks, the floors, windows sills. Alice Kern is a small person, and look fragile. She talked in a low voice barely above a whisper for 45 minutes. Not one kid moved, poked a neighbor or passed a note. Not one kid had to "go to the bathroom." They LISTENED to this woman tell the story of how her life changed forever. They were in AWE, and recognized the power of presence she had.


message 13: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 539 comments i haven't had a chance to read it yet - but keeping with the Holocaust theme - Conversations With Regina - she was one of the 6 survivors (IIRC) of the Sobibor Death Camp - she travels around australia and tells her story - I met her when I was in high school and came to talk to us - I then got the opportunity to interview her a few years later for a major school project


message 14: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (goodreadscombarb-ken) | 52 comments Lobstergirl wrote: "A really interesting and well-written bio of the woman married to a Churchill and a Harriman, who became a huge power in the Democratic party though she was a Brit. (I can't remember if she became..."

I LOVED the Harriman book, also the Mitford Sisters,
The Five Langhorn Sisters, Eleanor Roosevelt and am now reading about Madam Curie. Also, the trilogy of Josephine Bonapart, Eugenie by Desmond Steward, My Theodosia (Aaron Burr's daughter) by Anya Seton, Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser. Write to any time for more.


message 15: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 547 comments Lillian Wald: A Biography is an excellent biography of this pioneering nurse and social activist. (I think I've read about 90% of the biographies written on her, and this is probably the best.)


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