I am in a Reader’s Advisory Group that is looking at the category of “Women’s Fiction” or as we rather call it “Women’s Lives and Relationships.” We are getting ideas to help people who like this kind of novel find other authors they might like.
But we are having trouble deciding what fits in the category. It’s easy to say that the books have to be contemporary and about contemporary times. No historical fiction. The focus has to be on the emotional life of the people. Thrillers don’t count — they have their own audience. The plot is what drives thrillers. Psychological thrillers may be character driven, but they don’t fit either.
Many books are about women who help each other through life: think of Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik,Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton or Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. The subject term for this in the catalog is Female Friendship. But what if there are some men in the group? Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle or The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister both have men who help the group deal with their problems. Then the subject heading is Friendship Fiction.
Mother and Daughters- or Sisters- Fiction is another category for which most books would be Women’s Fiction. However, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper has a completely different feel than Liane Moriarty’s Three Wishes, but both are about sisters. And not all writers have the same tone for all their books.
To complicate the subject, women’s lives are different when they are teens, twenties, young mother, empty-nester, part of the sandwich generation, and retired. Someone who likes Sophie Kinsella might not want to read Ann Leary’s The Good House or Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.
The articles all say that Women’s Fiction books must be about women and by women authors. Is this true? Do only women read books about women? What about The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion? This is categorized as romance and humor, but it is not a Romance novel.
So if you like books about Women’s Lives and Relationships, which authors would you read? I’ll make a book list of what we discover.