Today we have a guest post from Christine, on a dual topic: female friendships (Henrietta would approve of this one!) and journeys of self-discovery.
Meredith A. asked about what books to read from other genres if you like historical romantic fiction. I started thinking about common themes in historical romance fiction that I like, other than historical and romance. Some of the less obvious elements I’ve found that I love are self-discovery (it seems those heroines are always coming into themselves) and awesome female sidekicks.
These books cover one, or both, of these elements (what I like to think of as “Thelma and Louise books” – find yourself with your BFF by your side the entire way, even if it means driving off a cliff together. Sorry if I spoiled the movie for you):
- Every Secret Thing, Susanna Kearsley – Kate is chased by mysterious bad forces as she tries to discover her grandmother’s secret. Kearsley is known more for her time-slip novels, which I absolutely love, but Every Secret Thing is my favorite. It’s rare that a mystery is so tightly woven – every detail is tied into the conclusion of the book, and the story is so gripping that you have to know where it goes. Throughout the course of the novel, Kate learns a lot of secrets about her family and her own past. It’s absolutely fantastic. Of all the books on this list, this is probably the one I would recommend people Read Right Now.
- The Art Forger, Barbara Shapiro – disgraced artist in need of work gets a slightly illegal offer from an old friend, discovers her inner strength and lets go of her demons in the process. The illegal deal the main character gets is related to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist and less than a week after I finished this book, there was breaking news that the FBI believed it knew who the thieves were, which made it super exciting for me. I really liked the main character. She starts off as weak, sort of “woe is me, I got screwed,” but she is making do as best she can and pursuing her art, and you want her to succeed.
- The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. – Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, and Amanda Pressner – memoir of three twenty-something friends who decide to quit their jobs, leave their lives, and travel the world. Putting aside a little bit of whiny-ness (really, you have the ability and funds to do this, what are you complaining about?), the book told the stories of their adventures, their lessons, and their friendship. They were each other’s sidekicks and support system during this journey and the book was a lot of fun. You can tell these aren’t professional writers – sometimes it was a bit disjointed, and there was a lot of annoying product placements for travel companies, but, overall, I enjoyed it.
- Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series – Ann Brashares – four teenagers who have been BFFs since they were in utero (moms met in a prenatal yoga class) find a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly. I don’t read very much YA, but I loved these books. The fifth book was a bit of a let down, and pretty depressing, but the original four were great. At the heart of the series is the strength of the friendship among these four girls as they experience life and a whole lot of firsts. Most importantly, it showcases how they’re there for each other in the end, even though they may be far apart and life may get in the way. And the movies weren’t bad either.
- The Perfume Collector – Kathleen Tessaro – 1950s woman discovers she has inherited from someone she has never met before, book follows the story of the benefactor and the heiress in two storylines. This book is fabulous as a historical novel, but what may not be evident is that there’s also an awesome best friend relationship. Mallory is the BFF that everyone wants – tries to stop you from wallowing, stands by you whatever you have to do, takes care of unpleasant tasks for you. The main character has had a bit of a hard life and carries an air of sadness, but Mallory is there to lighten the mood. Perhaps a bit shallow at times, but always looking on the bright side.
- The High Heels Mysteries series – Gemma Halliday – shoe designer constantly finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, solves mysteries with her BFF. This series I recommend with trepidation. It’s not well written. At all. The writing is cliched, the author uses the same phrases over and over, and the heroine, to put it bluntly, is stupid. Yet somehow, the books are just really entertaining and funny (possibly because the heroine is so stupid), and the BFF is awesome. She’s the awesome female sidekick who will support you in any ridiculous endeavor, even if it means getting shot at while dressed like a hooker. Seriously. That happened. I read these as e-books. I’m not sure if they’re available in physical book form but they’re usually available for free/cheap on Amazon for Kindle.
Any self-discovery/awesome female sidekick/both books you would recommend?