Thursday, 9 March 2023


With International Women's day falling on March 8th, I'm featuring notable books I've read recently, written by women and focusing on women's issues, while fearlessly pushing the boundaries of fiction. ON THE SAVAGE SIDE by Tiffany McDaniel
This was an incredibly brutal yet beautiful novel. Not for the faint of heart, it tackles addiction, parental neglect, child abuse, child sexual abuse, prostitution, police brutality, male brutality and the never-ending cycle of poverty and addiction,, and it achieves all this without being gratuitous, sentimental or judgmental. McDaniel gives humanity to the women struggling with the savagery of life in a dying Ohio town. The novel was inspired by the unsolved murders of The Chillicothe Six; six women--mothers, daughters, sisters--who went missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, and more bodies follow, some disturbing truths about the people in this small Ohio town are revealed. This harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of twin sisters, Arc and Daffodil, who can't escape the generational cycle of prostitution and addiction and who could both be the next victims of the River Man, an elusive killer. This novel digs deep into its main characters, tracing the course of their lives right from childhood when they still believed, with the help of their incredible grandmother, Mamma Milkweed, that "there are things that not even fire can destroy. And one of these things is the strength of a woman". Also that the savage side of life can always be mended and made beautiful.The author's brilliance shines in her ability to use poetic and lyrical language to create the kind of magic rarely seen in such portrayals of the darker side of life. TIFFANY MCDANIEL is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and woods of the land she knows. Drawing from her Cherokee heritage, she is a poet, a novelist, and a visual artist.
ON HOME by Becca Spence Dobias
This beautifully written debut novel is a sensitive and insightful portrait of three generations of women struggling with sexuality, relationships and belonging. Grandma Jane's story begins post-WW2 as she leaves her small town in West Virginia to go and work in the big city - Washington D.C where men in uniform seem to prey on young, impressionable women. Paloma, Jane's daughter-in-law, meets her husband, Ken in Prague while she's teaching at a university there. Cassidy, Paloma's daughter, left West Virginia behind and is a cam girl in Southern California. When her father, Ken is killed in an accident, she comes home intending only to stay for the funeral, but fate takes a turn . The setting of small town, West Virginia is a major factor in this novel. Jane sees it as a place of safety while Paloma, who at first viewed it as a good place to raise a family, feels suffocated and longs for the liberated lifestyle she left behind in Prague. Cassidy feels that returning to Buckannon is a sign of her continued failure in the eyes of her mother, and the interaction between the two is prickly and distant as they try to interact without the buffer of Cassidy's beloved father. The interaction between the three women and their attempts to come to terms with their life in the small town, and their place in the world as women, is skilfully and expertly portrayed by Dobias who weaves a well-paced, compelling story that deals with many deeply human themes such as the fleeting nature of experience as well as the sanctuary of home and family, and the power of love. Becca Spence Dobias grew up in a small town in West Virginia and now lives in Southern California with her husband and two children. Her work has been published in two Writing Bloc anthologies, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, and the Inlandia Anthology, A Short Guide to Finding Your First Home in the United States. She misses West Virginia every day but playing banjo helps. On Home is her first novel.
WOMEN TALKING by Miriam Toews, WOMEN TALKING, the movie adapted and directed by Sarah Polley
Usually when one watches a movie adaptation of a novel, there's a feeling of disappointment that the images and ideas you conjured up in your head while reading, are far more engaging than the choices made by the screenwriter and director of the movie version. This is defintely not the case for WOMEN TALKING. Author Miriam Toews worked closely with director and screenwriter, Sarah Polley, collaborating every step of the way to create an unforgettable movie adaptation of Toews' bestselling novel. Adapting this exploration of the brutality of the patriarchy without becoming gratuitous is no mean feat, and Sarah Polley succeeds in capturing the horrific circumstances of these women without exploiting them. Based on a real case fron the early 2000's of a Mennonite sect living in an isolated community in Bolivia. Toews focuses on eight female members of the community who climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm. While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape? Rather than focusing on the horror of the assaults, Toews concentrates on the struggle these women experience when trying to take back the power that has been systematically stripped from them. Both novel and movie emphasise the strength of the bonds between these women, and the undeniable fact that working together as women is the only way to challenge the rigid religious rules that have bound them for so long. The book and the movie eventually become a compelling examination of all patriarchy and the possibility that those who have been most brutally oppressed by it, can actually remove themselves from its influence. Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Finally I can't let this International Women's day pass without spotlighting some incredibly powerful female artists that I've always admired: first off, LAURA NYRO
One of the greatest performers and songwriters of the 20th century, check out Nyro's incredible appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival For some inexplicable reason, her brave, impassioned performance of THE POVERTY TRAIN didn't make it to the final film version of the festival and lay on the cutting floor. Check it out here.
LISA FISCHER has been a favorite of mine since her early diso days when she won a Grammy for her hit, HOW CAN I EASE THE PAIN. Later she garnered praise for her work with The Rolling Stones when her incredible vocals transformed GIMME SHELTER into a rock and roll masterpiece. Check it out here. Lately she's branched out as a solo artist and also appeared together with the incredible singer LEDISI in some unforgettable performances. Check out this amazing collaboration with LEDISI,VULA MALINGA and SHARLENE HECTOR at The Royal Albert Hall when they perform FOUR WOMEN. Click here to enjoy.
BOOK NEWS..... I'll have some incredible news in my next blog about my new, upcoming book, so STAY TUNED to find out more about it, and when it will be coming out!! Can't wait to tell you.


NEW BOOK COMING DECEMBER 2023!! I'm so excited to tell you about my upcoming new novel from Severn House Publishers (a division of Canon...