Why I Really Like This Book (strong women)
These are podcasts about forgotten fiction, for curious readers, and for anyone who likes old books. Sometimes they're stories, sometimes they're not. Most of the authors write in English; and sometimes they don't. But all the books I talk about, I really really like. I hope you will too.
  iTunes . homepage . classes . past episodes . faculty page . more from Kate

Photobucket

My name is Kate Macdonald: I'm an English lecturer, and a lifelong browser in second-hand bookshops. I post weekly ten-minute podcasts on a Friday, on the books I really like which I think deserve new readers. You can find out lots more at the Facebook page here, and get these podcasts weekly by subscribing on the iTunes link above.

The music for the podcast intro is by The Tribe Band. Lucy Marsh did the drawing and Matthias Opsomer lettered it. Patrick Belk and Martin Fowler hold my tech safety net.

Miro Video Player

Questions? Send me a message by mailing me at kate [dot] brussels [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Archives

Past Episodes

Keyword Search

January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January

December
November
October
September
August

Categories

detective fiction
the great outdoors
anti-romance
memoir
cooking
general
extra information
people-watching
the life of the place
fantastical
private classes
thrills and spills
always amusing
getting educated
strong women
thinking too much
simply heaven
archives
nemesis and revenge

Syndication

RSS Feed

 

We're in Ancient Rome, and we're waiting for the lions, with Naomi Mitchison's fine novel The Blood of the Martyrs. Not everyone in the cells is a Christian, and not everyone waiting to see the blood start flowing in the arena is a pagan. These are the early years of the Christian Church seen from ground level, where it's really gritty and people get hurt. It's also a marvellous and deeply satisfying novel, but bring a handkerchief. For fans of Mary Renault but with togas.

Comments[0]

It's the late 17th century, and Lady Otterby's spendthrift husband is betraying his friends and spending any money he can borrow as if honour was going out of fashion. Una L Silberrad's The Honest Man is a sober City merchant who will ride calmly into their lives to pick up the pieces, and let the rest go to the dogs. Splendid historical fiction set in Cumbria.

Direct download: Una_L_Silberrad_and_The_Honest_Man_-_Novels_of_1922.mp3
Category:strong women -- posted at: 1:30am CET
Comments[0]

In Kipling's The Naulakha, Kate goes to New York to train as a nurse. In Louisa May Alcott's Good Wives, Jo goes to New York to work independently as a writer, and turns into a hack journalist for the blood and thunder magazines of the 1860s. But she needs to be saved from this terrible profession, so enter Professor Bhaer, who will bring her back to the good Christian path, and open an orphanage. For readers who need career guidance.

Direct download: Louisa_May_Alcott_and_Good_Wives_-_Really_Randoms_4.mp3
Category:strong women -- posted at: 1:30am CET
Comments[0]

Deep in space, women and men are equal. Elizabeth Moon's Once A Hero isn't about women and men at all, but about soldiers and treachery, leadership and command, truth and lies. Esmay Suiza rides horses reluctantly because she'd much rather be safe in space, where she belongs. For readers who just want a great space navy novel that happens to be saturated in feminism.

Comments[0]

If you can't walk, see, move or breathe unaided, you can still fly through the galaxies as a brain ship, encased in titanium, and totally in charge of your own environment, serving the sentient world in intergalactic transport. You can be a hospital ship, a charter flight for actors, and a transporter of 30,000 babies in embryo. Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang is a pre-feminist novel about why women in space need never be confined except by their own bodies. For those who really want to fly.

Comments[2]

What trouble can lichen cause? If it gives you longer life, and only some people can afford it, that's a lot of trouble. And when the people who've been given the longer life first are women, how are the others going to feel? Why should women have more life? What will they do with it? How will society change? John Wyndham's great novel Trouble with Lichen from 1960 is a classic work of British science fiction from a master story-teller, one of his best, and most far-seeing, because this future is still ahead of us.

Comments[1]

The temperature doesn't often go down in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, which is good because it's the growing season. We've got Lusa learning about farming and bringing female scientific thinking to a very male practice. We've got Deanna, fighting to keep her mountainside clear of the bad stuff that will harm her animals, which might include a new man. And we've got Nannie Rawley who simply wants to grow her apples organically, but her grumpy old neighbour Mr Walker has all sorts of rigid ideas that need sorting out, both about her and about breeding. A hot and intensely absorbing novel about burgeoning life, for readers who crunch up their novels like apples.

Comments[0]

Dramatic goings-on in the Knapp family in small-town America, where Eva's passion for housework is destroying her nervous family, and Lester's loathing of consumerism and office drudgery will lose him his job. Dorothy Canfield Fisher's novel The Home-Maker applies the arguments as to why women should keep house and men always be the breadwinners to their logical conclusions, and finds misery in the heart of the American family. Until, one winter's day, it all gets turned upside down and happiness comes back to the Knapps because Eva is a natural-born saleswoman, and Lester is a fantastic father. For those who want to buck the trend.

Comments[0]

Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark is about Thea Kronborg's passion for music in turn-of-the-century Colorado, and her ferocious hard work in learning about music, how to sing, and how to be a singer. She travels from small-town Moonstone to Chicago, and then to Germany, bursting onto the New York stage as a new great American opera singer. The novel is also about the beauty of aspiration, of working hard and honestly, and taking chances when they are offered. For those who like taking the train to start a new life.

Comments[0]

Undine Spragg climbs relentlessly upwards through American society in Edith Wharton's novel The Custom of the Country, marrying disastrously (for others), abandoning friends and useful people from back home in her dizzying ascent - until things go wrong and she needs the advice of those who have worked harder and longer, and paid more attention than she has to their life's work of learning to be the right kind of lady in turn-of-the-century New York society. For those interested in slippery slopes.

Comments[0]