Summer has arrived and if you’re anything like me, you crave some engaging reads for the summer months – the beach, the pool, and even the back porch are tailor-made for a good book. Although we all have our favorite genres, one thing that we Sigma Kappa sisters can probably agree on is that we love strong women! With that in mind, here are three of my favorites featuring strong female characters.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale is a historical fiction novel about two sisters, set in France during World War II. The younger is boldly courageous, determined to fight with the resistance, while the older is more conventional, preferring to lay low in the interest of preserving her family.
Why I Liked It: Much has been written about how World War II affected Western societies, but a lot of the stories and writing focus on the men who fought. When women are featured, it’s more often in a “Rosie the Riveter”-type role. The character of Isabelle, the younger sister, is based on a real Belgian woman, and shows how some women fought the Nazis on the home front. The character of Vianne, the older sister, is the one that I could most connect with on a personal level; her circumstances had me wondering what I would have done in her situation.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is a YA novel set over the course of one school year in 1986. It’s the story of two star-crossed misfits, smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Why I Liked It: Although it sounds like a typical teen romance novel, Eleanor & Park is anything but. I was a teenager during the ’80s, so the setting appealed to me, but I also recommended it to my teenage daughter due its authentic feel about the struggles of adolescence. I wondered as I read it how many “Eleanors” existed in my own school that I never knew. Anyone who’s been a teenager will be able to relate.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, the even more rich and eligible Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy is disdainful of local society and repeatedly clashes with the Bennets’ lively second daughter, Elizabeth.
Why I Liked It: The dynamic among the five Bennet sisters is entertaining in its own right, but the relationship between Elizabeth and Jane is particularly notable for its warmth and closeness. What I truly loved about the novel, however, was its humor. The language and structure take some getting used to if you aren’t accustomed to it, but it’s well worth the effort – the audio book version narrated by Rosamund Pike is particularly good and makes the language easier to digest.