Sunday, August 05, 2012

Five top novels with vengeful women

Louise Doughty is the author of the novels Crazy Paving, Dance with Me, Honey-Dew, Fires in the Dark, Stone Cradle, and Whatever You Love, as well as the nonfiction book A Novel in a Year.

One of her five favorite tales of vengeful women, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Your Blue-Eyed Boy
by Helen Dunmore (1998)

This novel is not the best-known work by Helen Dunmore, who won Britain's Orange Prize in 1996 for "A Spell of Winter," but it is one of my personal favorites. Dunmore, a poet as well as a novelist, writes prose notable for its lyricism, but she never forgets the important business of fashioning an engrossing story populated by memorable characters. Her women, in particular, feel exceptionally real—they have jobs and marriages but also interior lives, and we come to know these characters well. "Your Blue-Eyed Boy" tells the story of Simone, a district judge who one day receives a mysterious letter from an ex-boyfriend. The story touched off by the letter's arrival takes vengeance as its theme, exploring retribution as justice and as necessity. "There are things you should know about blackmail," Dunmore writes, "in case it comes tapping at your door. There's what it does to you, and then there's what it makes you do." Such is the author's skill that her characters can hold our sympathies even when they commit the most brutal of acts.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue