Wise Words From Our Favourite Female Heroines for IWD 2019!

Wise Words From Our Favourite Female Heroines for IWD 2019!

International Women’s Day is almost here, so we’re deep in thought at Bookends HQ about the female heroines that we most look up to. Here is just a taster so that we can all channel these fiesty female characters this IWD!

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“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” – Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is my all-time favourite book. This line from Jane sums up the main reasons why I will always re-read this treasure of a book at least once a year: Jane is fiercely independent and won’t let anyone put her down. She is essentially a badass!

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“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.” – Jo March, Little Women

Headstrong, independent and fiercely clever, Jo March is one of the most brilliant book characters of all time. Her role in Little Women defied conventional representations of women when it was published, and remains inspiring to this day!  

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“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze” – Offred, The Handmaid’s Tale

Every time I re-read (or re-watch) The Handmaid’s Tale I am blown away by some of the incredibly profound remarks made by Offred. I always consider if I was in her situation and my mind boggles at the fact that she can come out with some of these lines. Her strength and resistance are so powerful, and this quote in particular is one of many cases when Offred challenges the reader to consider their world – to think about freedom and what it means to them. I think we should all channel a bit of Offred this IWD!

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“You had the power all along my dear.” —Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz

I have always loved this quote from the legendary book and film, The Wizard of Oz. It reminds me that we all have the power and capability to do anything we put our mind to, all it takes is self-belief and faith.

Read an exclusive extract from The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan

Read an exclusive extract from The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan

From the Number One bestselling author Emma Hannigan comes her new novel, The Gift of Friends, a magical story of love, friendship and hope.

Kingfisher Road – a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems…

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need?

Read the extract here: The Gift of Friends Extract

Buy The Gift of Friends here.

International Women’s Day 2019 special: Q&A with Sheila O’Flanagan

International Women’s Day 2019 special: Q&A with Sheila O’Flanagan

International Women’s Day 2019 is on Friday 8th March and to mark this very special day, we interviewed Sheila O’Flanagan, author of The Hideaway.

Who is your favourite female character to have written and why?

Asking me to pick a favourite female character from all the ones I’ve written is a little like asking a parent to pick a favourite child. I love them all equally in different ways. Of the last few books I’ve written, one of the most satisfying stories to tell was that of Imogen in The Missing Wife. I’m really pleased that women are now speaking far more openly about coercive control and emotional abuse in relationships. It’s good that a wider conversation about this has begun too, and that we are more and more able to recognise gaslighting when it takes place. There’s still a belief in some places that only weaker people are gaslighted or emotionally abused, and with Imogen I was able to explore how this happens to women who are fundamentally strong too.

My most recent heroine, Juno (The Hideaway) is also a woman with inner strength but she has to separate herself from family and friends to rediscover it. It’s essential that women don’t feel like failures when something goes wrong in their lives; but we have a tendency to blame ourselves and ask ourselves what we did wrong, rather than accept that some things are not our fault. Juno’s story of recovery is another that was important to me to write.

Which female writers inspire you?

Today I am most inspired by women who write to give enjoyment and pleasure to the reader and who portray the female characters in their books as rounded people with their own aspirations and opinions. I’m a fan of Jodi Picoult, who tackles moral dilemmas in her work and gets to the heart of the problem with skill and humour; I love Joanne Harris’s mesmerising writing and complex characters; and I’m in awe of Cecilia Ahern, who allows fantasy and reality to collide in so many different ways in her writing.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Believe in your own ability and don’t listen to people who insist there’s only one way to do anything. Realise that someone may be in a position of authority not because of their talent but because they were more confident and more assertive than others around them. Don’t settle for second best. (Also, buy Apple shares – Steve Jobs was a genius and you will use and love most of their products in your personal and professional life. If you buy a slice of the company now you won’t have to worry about the pension fund later on!)

Who is your favourite literary heroine and why?

The first character in literature that I totally identified with was Joey Bettany in the Chalet School series. I had bad asthma when I was young and I immediately bonded with Joey, whose ‘weak chest’, and constant colds and coughs, mirrored my own situation. When she was well, though, Joey was a tomboy, fearless, brave and occasionally recklessly silly (just like me). Even more than that, she wanted to be a writer, and by the end of the series of books she had achieved her dream. Never underestimate the importance of strong female characters in children’s books, and how they can help shape our lives.

Which writers are doing a great job of representing the female experience in their work?

I hope I do because it’s always been very important to me that women are represented as characters with multi-stranded lives. Family and relationships matter to us, but so do many other aspects of our lives. I think writers like Marian Keyes show this with the additional advantage of bringing humour to the mix. Holly Bourne’s YA and adult books brilliantly show the pressures that young women in particular are under today. And of course, the fantastic Margaret Atwood has always written believable, strong female characters – the fact that her most famous work, The Handmaid’s Tale, shows a dystopian future for women but is based on things that have happened and are still happening in real life should be a warning to us never to be complacent about the achievements we’ve made.

Sheila’s book, The Hideaway, is out in paperback now. You can buy it here.

The Hideaway
Read an extract of Almost Love by Louise O’Neill before International Women’s Day!

Read an extract of Almost Love by Louise O’Neill before International Women’s Day!

The 8th of March is fast approaching, we’ve rallied our feminist spirit and, you guessed it, we’ve got a stack of books to get through to get us prepared for the big day! And top of that list is Almost Love by feminist powerhouse Louise O’Neill. Here’s Louise talking about what motivated her to write the book…

So get stuck in to Almost Love now, with this super exclusive extract.

Click here to read!