A Few More Older Novels Written by Women that Are Too Good to be Forgotten

 

These are all novels that got my highest rating when I read them. For this article, I have intentionally steered away from novels and authors that have been discussed often recently already.

 

‘The Sin Eater’ (1977) by Alice Thomas Ellis (1932-2005) – The Welsh writer Alice Thomas Ellis had a dark and strange sense of humor. ‘The Sin Eaters’ tells of family strife as they all come for a final visit to their ailing patriarch.

 

 

‘Tirra Lirra by the River’ (1978) by Jessica Anderson (1916-2010) – Here is an Australian novel about a woman escaping a selfish sanctimonious husband and a failed marriage by relocating in London. The year it was published, the Washington Post said “There may be a better novel than Tirra Lirra by the River this year, but I doubt it.”

 

‘During the Reign of the Queen of Persia’ (1983) by Joan Chase (1936-2018) – No, this does not take place in ancient times in the Middle East. It is the story of a family in rural Ohio during the 1950s. It should be easy to find since it was reissued by NYBR in 2014.

 

 

‘Three Paths to the Lake’ (1972) by Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) – OK, this is a collection of five stories, not a novel. Each of the stories is a portrait of an Austrian woman trying to make a go of it in a male-dominated society in the 1960s.

 

 

‘Invitation to the Waltz’ (1932) by Rosamond Lehmann (1901-1990) – I am enormously impressed by most of the writings by Rosamond Lehmann, and I could have mentioned several others here. ‘Invitation to the Waltz’ is a good example of her work. It is the story of a young woman preparing for her first society dance.

 

 

‘The Widow’s Children’ (1976) by Paula Fox (1923-2017) – Here is a powerful novel that takes place during a single night while a family goes out to dinner. Most of the novel is intense dialogue.

 

 

 

‘A Dubious Legacy’ (1994) by Mary Wesley (1912-2002) – An English novel about a bizarre marriage. While stationed abroad during World War II, a man marries a complete stranger at his father’s request. When the war is over, the man brings his bride back to his estate. Upon her arrival, she punches him in the eye and marches upstairs to her bedroom where she will stay for most of the time afterwards.

 

All of the writers mentioned here are worthy and deserving of being remembered by future generations.

 

 

11 responses to this post.

  1. Nice to see Tirra Lirra on this list!

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  2. Very interesting review — makes me immediately want to start reading some of these (I already have copies of the novels by Lehmann, Fox and Chase). I tried Alice Thomas Ellis many years ago; I must admit she didn’t work for me then; perhaps a second time might be more successful. I recently read Fox’s God of Nightmares (a lesser known work of hers) and was quite impressed; The Widow’s Children and Desperate Characters are high on my list.

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    • Hi Janakay,
      As for Alice Thomas Ellis, I like the occasional dark and strange novel which is a not-so-nice change from all the over-ingratiating stuff out there. I notice that nearly all the novels that I mention here are off the beaten path, strange in their own way.
      I had not heard of ‘God of Nightmares’ by Paula Fox before, and I would like to read Paula Fox again.

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      • I really enjoyed it. Since it was the only thing I’ve read by her, I have no idea how typical it is of her work; probably not very, as it’s mostly set in New Orleans. I think it’s generally considered a lesser work (and I do admit it’s a tad melodramatic) but still . . . it definitely made me want to read more of Fox’s novels.

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        • I always looked out for more Paula Fox novels (I know she wrote children’s books also.), but somehow I missed when ‘God of Nightmares’ came out. That they republished it must mean it’s quite good.

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  3. I loved Desperate Characters by Paula Fox and I have a feeling I might have a copy of The Widow’s CHildren. Must check it out. I love a book set over a short time frame.

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  4. Great review! You have such good taste, Tony., and thank you for writing about this overlooked category. I’ve read all of these, except Three Paths to the Lake’ (1972) by Ingeborg Bachmann, which I will of course look for. Alice Thomas Ellis is such a great writer; I’m so glad someone besides me enjoys her work!

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    • Hi Kat,
      I was considering using ‘Malina’ by Ingeborg Bachmann, but I could not find it on my old reading lists to see if I had given it 4 stars. However I did find ‘Three Paths to the Lake’ which I had given 4 stars, so I used that.
      Alice Thomas Ellis is an eccentric writer, and I like eccentric writers. Right now I’m reading the first novel by another female eccentric writer that was just first published this month, and I’m really enjoying it. You will see a review of it soon here.

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