Top Ten Tuesday: All the Single Ladies

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

July 19: Freebie (Come up with your own topic!)

As I enter into my own spinsterhood, I’m more aware of the representation of unmarried women of a certain age in media. Some literary spinster are great. Others are…less so. One book that I would recommend on the subject is Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own, a book I read several years ago. But in this list I’m primarily looking at novels

Rules for this list:

  1. A romantic history doesn’t automatically keep a woman off this list, but if her happy ending involves a romantic relationship, it does. Nothing against romance! But it’s not the only plotline a woman can have.
  2. No Miss Havisham-like lunatics on here. Don’t get me wrong, Miss Havisham is a great character, but hardly anything for single ladies to aspire to!

Mildred Lanthbury in Excellent Women by Barbara Pym – Actually a lot of Pym’s work applies but when I think of Pym this is the first book that comes to mind. In it Mildred (who’s only 30, so I suppose by today’s standards she wouldn’t be considered a spinster at all) gets overly involved in her neighbors lives, with comic results.

Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie – I love her. Yes, she doesn’t have much in the way of family, so she solves crimes instead! I love that she’s not very judgmental though. She uncovers a lot of secrets in these books, but unless they involve murder, she’s pretty accepting of peoples vices and foibles.

Mrs. Rumphius by Barbara Cooney– I loved this children’s book about the title character whose mission in life is to add a bit of beauty to the world. No more, no less.

Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery– She didn’t look for or ask for motherhood, but she becomes a mother to a 13 year old orphan nonetheless. Despite her stern demeanor she’s kind and loving.

 The ladies of Cranford in Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell –  Miss Matty and Miss Deborah are spinsters living in rather modest circumstances in a small Victorian English town, full of many single women. They face the upheaval in spite of their resistance to it. “In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women … For keeping the trim gardens full of choice flowers without a weed to speck them; for frightening away little boys who look wistfully at the said flowers through the railings; for rushing out at the geese that occasionally venture in to the gardens if the gates are left open … for kindness (somewhat dictatorial) to the poor, and real tender good offices to each other whenever they are in distress, the ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. ‘A man,’ as one of them observed to me once, ‘is so in the way in the house!’”

Circe by Madeline Miller- Yes the character showed up in Homer’s Odyssey before Miller got her hands on her, but Miller made her better (IMO) She spends a lot of the book isolated on the island of Aiaia but she turns her solitude into empowerment.

Miss Honey in Matilda by Roald Dahl– Yes, she’s fairly young when the book ends, so there’s no way to know if spinsterhood is her ultimate fate, but she gets a happy ending that doesn’t involve a romantic relationship in any way shape or form. We have the sense that if that never comes, she’ll be just fine.

Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons- Forever traumatized by “something nasty in the woodshed” she nonetheless rules the Starkadder family with an iron fist. Her happy ending involves a trip to Paris rather than a trip down the aisle.

Edith Hope in Hotel de Lac by Anita Brookner– I went back and forth with this one since the main character, Edith, does have some romantic drama going on in her life and her ending is sort of ambiguous. But some of the choices she makes support my perception of her as a single lady.

Benny Hogan in Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy – In the film adaptation of this book, a pretty major change is made to the ending that makes it ineligible for this list. I actually like the film and think the ending works in that context. But in the novel, based on the way the characters are portrayed, I definitely think Benny makes the right choice.

Advertisement

Tag Tuesday: Amy’s Tea Book Tag

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday was

August 17: Favorite Places to Read

But I really only have about 3 preferred reading spaces. So I went with a Tag Tuesday instead. Annie’s Tea Book Tag seems made for me because I love books and I love tea. It was created by booktuber Amy at From A Dusty Bookshelf, but I can’t find the channel now. I discovered this tag on Zezee With Books.

DOUBLE BERGAMOT EARL GREY: A ROBUST, DEEP, INTELLECTUAL, AND FLAVOURFUL BOOK

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser is an interesting puzzle of a novel that feels thoughtful, but in a fun way. The plot is a Dickensian mystery involving a will, a hidden document, several unreliable narrators and a journey through 19th century England from the gentry to the poor, the provincial to the metropolitan, and back again. I think the words “robust” and “flavorful” made me think of it.
.

TIM HORTON’S STEEPED: A BOOK YOU READ ON THE GO THAT YOU COME BACK TO AGAIN AND AGAIN

This is hard because usually books that I read “on the go” aren’t books that I return to again and again. One of the few exceptions is Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris: Confessions of A Common Reader. I think I read the bulk of these essays literally on the go: on public transportation and in waiting rooms and such. But I’ve returned to several of them several times since then.

MEYER LEMON: A TANGY, FAST-PACED READ; GONE BEFORE YOU’VE FULLY SAVOURED THE FLAVOUR

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty was a book I read in about two days. It kept me involved and guessing, though I’m not sure how much there really was to “savor.” It did pose an interesting moral dilemma for one of the characters though. I’m really not sure what I’d do in the same position.

CHAMOMILE LAVENDER: A RELAXING, CALMING LATE NIGHT READ

The Countess Below Stairs/ The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (you might find it under either title) is a charming reverse Cinderella story.  It’s best read as a fairy tale (which in this case I mean in a soothing way, not a disturbing and subversive way!) It’s got madcap adventures and misadventures and a lot of charm.

LADY GREY: A SMOOTH, SUBTLE, CLASSIC BOOK; PERFECT FOR A SERENE WINTER MORNING

For some reason a winter morning suggests a mystery to me. I was thinking about doing a cozy mystery for this one (maybe that’s why I associate mystery with winter, the “cozy” suggests being curled up with a good book and a cup of tea on a winter’s morning!) but since it also says “classic” I was going to go with And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, since that’s an old favorite of mine. But then I decided on Murder on the Orient Express since that’s more winter-y.

ORANGE PEKOE: A POPULAR NOVEL THAT EVERYONE’S READ

I had a surprisingly difficult time with this one. Pretty much any book I think of, I’m sure someone could comment and say they haven’t read it! Also I didn’t want to do Harry Potter for a number of reasons. I’ll say The Hunger Games. As I said, there are people out there who haven’t read it, but it’s undeniably popular.

ENGLISH BREAKFAST: A BRITISH CLASSIC

Just one? For some reason I’m tempted to go with Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I guess I’d describe Gaskell as midway between Austen and Bronte with a bit of Dickens thrown in here and there. This is her final book and was never completely finished before Gaskell’s death in 1865. The ending was written by Frederick Greenwood. It was also made into a miniseries in 1999 that was pretty good.

CANADIAN BREAKFAST: A TITLE THAT TASTES A LITTLE LIKE ENGLISH BREAKFAST BUT READS LIKE THE NEW WORLD (AN EARLY CANADIAN OR AMERICAN WORK)

I almost did Anne for this (she’s like my Canadian BFF!) but I changed my mind and went for Emily of New Moon instead. She’s a bit darker in some ways, and less boundlessly optimistic, but I think I’m probably more like her than Anne (as much as I always love Anne!)

GREEN: A HEALTHY BOOK THAT FEEDS YOUR MIND

When I first read this, I stated trying to think of books about healthy food/exercise. Then I decided that was probably too literal (plus I couldn’t think of any!). I recently read a book in which Kate Bolick had an essay and that made me think back to her book Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own. I think that book frames women’s choices (whatever they may be) in a really positive way. I wrote about it a bit here.

ICED TEA: A SWEET SUMMER TREAT, BREWED FOR THE LAZY BRIEF DAYS OF SUMMER

When I read the word “sweet” I immediately thought of Sarah Addison Allen. When I read “summer” I thought of Garden Spells, but The Sugar Queen is sweeter (and sugar themed) even though it’s set in winter.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Tropes

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

ttt-new

August 20: Favorite Tropes (a trope is a commonly used theme or plot device) (submitted by Andrea @ Books for Muse)

1. Mysterious school

2. Slow burn romance

3. Small towns

4. Missing/Absent parents

5. Family secrets

6. Gothic

7. Neo-Victorian

8. Time Travel / Time Slips

9. Dual Timelines

10. Fairy Tale retellings