Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
“In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope–wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy–is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages.
In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged Maids, asking: “What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?” In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the storytelling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality–and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.” publisher
The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
“A prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”. The book details the life of Antoinette Mason (known in Jane Eyre as Bertha), a West Indian who marries an unnamed man in Jamaica and returns with him to his home in England. Locked in a loveless marriage and settled in an inhospitable climate, Antoinette goes mad and is frequently violent. Her husband confines her to the attic of his house at Thornfield. Only he and Grace Poole, the attendant he has hired to care for her, know of Antoinette’s existence. The reader gradually learns that Antoinette’s unnamed husband is Mr. Rochester, later to become the beloved of Jane Eyre. Much of the action of the novel takes place in the West Indies.” discover
Longbourn by Jo Baker
“A brilliantly imagined, irresistible below-stairs answer to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. The servants at Longbourn estate take centre stage in this lively, cunning new novel. Here are the Bennets as we have never known them: seen through the eyes of those scrubbing the floors, cooking the meals, emptying the chamber pots. Our heroine is Sarah, an orphaned housemaid beginning to chafe against the boundaries of her class. When the militia marches into town, a new footman arrives under mysterious circumstances, and Sarah finds herself the object of the attentions of an ambitious young former slave working at neighbouring Netherfield Hall.” publisher.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
“She tackles class, race, and gender with acerbic wit and a wise eye for the complexities of modern life, in a 21st-century update of Howards End. Beauty opens as hapless art historian Howard Belsey, a transplanted Englishman married to an African-American woman, returns to London to prevent his son from marrying the daughter of his academic rival, Monty Kipps. Jerome has fallen in love not just with Victoria, but with the entire family, whose Trinidadian, right-wing roots are a sharp contrast to the freewheeling liberalism of his own family. ” School Library Journal
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
“Ozick’s heady fiction springs from her deep critical involvement in literature, especially her fascination with Henry James, which emboldened her to lift the plot of his masterpiece, The Ambassadors, and recast it in a taut and flaying novel that is utterly her own….Ozick’s dramatic inquiry into the malignance of betrayal; exile literal and emotional; the many tentacles of anti-Semitism; and the balm and aberrance of artistic obsession is brilliantly nuanced and profoundly disquieting.” Booklist