You might have heard one of many conversations going on about how female authors are – as a rule – not as widely read or reviewed as their male counterparts. Writer and artist Joanna Walsh started the #ReadWomen2014 campaign to spread the word and get everyone reading and talking about more books by women. To set you on your way (or help you continue your journey), here are four astonishing books by women that we think you should read this year. Let us know if you have any other suggestions.
Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (Picador, 13 February 2014)
Naomi Wood's novel about Hemingway's four wives is intoxicating. Each Mrs. Hemingway – all of them extraordinary women – tells her story of what it means to love the most famous writer of his generation, and each is forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife...
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue (Picador, 27 March 2014)
Emma Donoghue's first novel since Room is elegant, erotic and witty. It's 1876 San Francisco and deep in the stifling streets of Chinatown live three former stars of the Parisian circus: Blanche, now an exotic dancer at the House of Mirrors, her lover Arthur and his companion Ernest. When an eccentric outsider joins their little circle, secrets unravel, changing everything – and leaving one of them dead.
Life Drawing by Robin Black (Picador, 24 April 2014)
Reading Life Drawing left me feeling bereft. It's the incredibly moving story of Augusta (Gus) and her husband Owen, who move to an isolated cottage in Philadelphia to escape a past betrayal. When Alison Hemmings moves into the empty house next door, Gus is drawn out of isolation and as the new relationship deepens, the lives of the two households grow more and more tightly intertwined. Just one new arrival intensifies emotions to breaking point.
The Skeleton Cupboard by Tanya Byron (Macmillan, 22 May 2014)
The Skeleton Cupboard is a brave, honest account of ordinary people and their amazing resilience to the challenges of life. Professor Tanya Byron recounts her years of training as a mental health practitioner, when trainee clinical psychologists find themselves in the toughest placements of their careers. Through the eyes of her naive and inexperienced younger self, Tanya shares remarkable stories inspired by the people she had the privilege to treat.
We'll be back next month with some more women you should read; in the meantime we'd love to hear your suggestions!