Posts tagged ‘Feminism’

May 16, 2019

Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Sceptre, £18.99, out nowSiri Hustvedt MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE

This wonderful book, marketed as fiction but often feeling like memoir, tells the story of a young woman who moves to New York City in the late 1970s looking for adventure and to write her first novel.

Following the main character S.H. in her progress is immersive, we are there when she moves into her small apartment and hears her neighbour chanting manically through the wall. We eat her meals with her and meet her new friends.

This narrated past from the speaker’s position as an older woman in almost present-day America is also mixed with two other texts, her diary from the time in present tense, and the novel she is writing – a mystery about two teenage detectives.

The three sections work well together and are all compelling in their own ways. Seeing the character develop the novel is especially exciting for people interested in the writing process or those who write themselves and including both the diary from the time and the reflections of the older woman creates some insightful moments of the past and the present interacting. This is one of the things the book does very well, meditating on memories and how we relate to them differently as we get older, as well as the role writing plays in this. Hustvedt also thinks about how significant moments are recorded in our minds as they happen and how some are forgotten. About her friend Whitney the older S.H. says:

“I loved her then. I love her now, but while I was in the throes of living it was impossible for me to know whether a moment would be significant or whether it would vanish into oblivion along with so much else.” p.300

Whitney, who we meet as a vibrant young woman when S.H does is one of the characters who transcends the different time periods in the book as we hear about her life as she grows older with S.H.

The book also has a strong feminist message, Hustvedt and her character rail against the so called Great Men, academics and artists who command people’s respect while patronising women and stealing their work.

There is also a very satisfying moment at a dinner party where S.H. encounters a condescending older man.

The man says he does not want to hear any more “philosophies from female nether-regions”, and then asks the protagonist, “I don’t suppose you have anything to add to this venerable debate, my dear?”

She begins her reply with, “You have made a statement, but have delivered it as if it were a question. I find the technique dubious, if not reprehensible…” (p.234-5) and goes on to take him down philosophically in a way that one would usually articulate as a type of staircase wit. It was brilliant to read anyway and cemented the tenderness I felt for the character.

Hustvedt’s New York City is exciting and her characters warm and comforting, I loved being in their world and was sad to leave it at the end. As an older woman her observations about the present day are poignant and I also enjoyed the little illustrations throughout.

Review by Cat

October 17, 2018

Eve was Shamed – How British Justice is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Chatto & Windus, £20, published 11 October 2018Helena Kennedy EVE WAS SHAMED

Eve was Shamed is a timely and comprehensive update on women as they engage with the UK’s criminal justice system, from a legendary feminist human rights lawyer.  The depth of her experience over years of legal practice and activism makes this a must-read. You don’t have to agree with everything she says to benefit from her thoughtful and erudite commentary.

17 years after I first read her classic book on women and the law Eve was Framed, Eve was Shamed shows where we have made progress and where so much remains to be done.  Her account includes experiences of women lawyers, survivors of domestic or sexual violence, prisoners, judges, and others.  She finds that “despite the dramatic changes which have taken place in women’s lives over the last four decades, women are still facing iniquitous judgements and injustice within the legal system.  All the legal reforms have produced only marginal advances”.  (p. 317)

Kennedy’s dual commitment to feminism and to human rights is particularly interesting.  Her values inform her approach to her work, including her analysis of difficult or controversial situations in public life.  She recounts occasions when this has led to conflict with people she has been allies with, and it is evident that she values the process of discussion and exchange that leads to resolution, even where this is uncomfortable or challenging.  She notes: “feminism is about justice if it is about anything, and that means for men as well as women.  Justice for women is not secured by reducing justice for men.” (p. 324)

She has lost none of her passion or commitment on the things that matter to her, making her a useful model for how to survive and remain effective during bleak times.  Her considered solutions to problems are offered throughout, and this means that despite the subject matter you feel that real change is possible.  Jacky Fleming’s inspirational cartoon remains helpful (see https://www.jackyfleming.co.uk/product/never-give-up/).

Review by Bethan

February 6, 2018

Happy Suffrage Centenary!

by Team Riverside

We are delighted to be celebrating 100 years of women having the vote.  Our main window is full of great stuff in honour of the celebration.  Our children’s display also Riverside shop window with books by womenlooks great.

Among our feminist favourites in store today are:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists

Mary Beard – Women and Power: a Manifesto

Juno Dawson – The Gender Games

Audre Lorde – Your Silence Will Not Protect You

Diane Atkinson – Rise Up, Women!  The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

Eve Lloyd Knight and Louise Kay Stewart – Rebel Voices: the Rise of Votes for Women

Roxane Gay – Bad Feminist

Catherine Mayer – Attack of the 50 ft. women: How Gender Equality Can Change the World

Margot Lee Shetterley – Hidden Figures

Ensaf Haider – Raif Badawi: the Voice of Freedom

Malala Yousafzai – I am Malala: the Girl Who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

Kate Pankhurst – Fantastically Great Women Who Made History

Kate Pankhurst – Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Penguin Mini Classics – The Suffragettes

Mary Wollstonecraft – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism

Maggie Nelson – The Argonauts

Sally Nicholls – Things a Bright Girl Can Do

Libby Jackson – A Galaxy of her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space

Jo Swinson – Equal Power and How You Can Make it Happen

Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo – Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

Deborah Levy – Things I Don’t Want to Know

March 8, 2014

A Very Short Introduction

by Andre

For the overburdened reader, ‘a very short introduction’ is among the most welcome of phrases. Now you can browse dozens of books on our snazzy new spinner that will each fill a specific gap in your knowledge, without detaining you for more than a few hours. Oxford University Press has literally hundreds of slim, accessible volumes in its Very Short series, and we’ve got dozens of these titles available in the shop. Click on any book cover below for just a selection of this diverse, authoritative series that’s proved popular with both students and general readers.