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Lady Novelists

They Would Be Missed a Lot.

by Everett Wilson
January 14, 2006

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Lady Novelists

And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist — I don't think she'd be missed — I'm sure she'd not he missed!  - Ko-ko's Song in The Mikado

We all have our prejudices, and I can laugh out loud at some of Ko-ko's, but this one I don't find so funny. I have been a fan of lady novelists since I was a teen-ager, and am sure that a lot of them would be missed!

Here is a list that comes to mind at the moment. Just  a few are likely to be on college reading lists: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Willa Cather; but all of them, including the writers of mysteries and adventure, are true novelists. The stories and their characters matter, even though, for the most part, they are writing to entertain us. That is okay with me. I like a story I can follow, about people I like, who speak with recognizable voices, and do things that interest me. 

Elizabeth Goudge, especially The Dean's Watch

Jane Austen, especially Mansfield Park; Pride and Prejudice is, like the Bible, on everybody's list.

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.  

Dorothy Sayers, especially The Nine Tailors

Willa Cather, My Antonia  

Martha Grimes, The Richard Jury novels

Elizabeth George, The Thomas Linley—Barbara Havers novels

Elizabeth Peters. As the dust jacket says, "Between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, I'll take Amelia!"

Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael.

Susan Howatch, a bit overheated for novels about Anglican clergy, but real page-turners.

Jan Karon, The Mitford novels, though Father Tim lives in a time warp; no pastor in the world can get as much done as he does. 

Ngaio Marsh, Inspector Alleyn and his classy wife,  Agatha Troy

I also devoured Agatha Christie—especially Miss Marple-- but she was more a writer of puzzles than of novels. 

Maybe there is no such category as lady novelists. Maybe there are only good novelists, bad ones, and those that leave no trace in the memory. 

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