Bookshelf: Women’s History Month

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by Doug Beatty and Lori Hench, librarians in Baltimore County Public Library’s Adult and Community Engagement department

As we start off the new year, let’s take a look at some classic tales told in refreshing new ways, from Greek mythology to the Puritans of New England. Enjoy these reimagined stories anew.

“Ithaca” by Claire North

Many are familiar with the “Odyssey” by Homer, and how Odysseus spent 17 years returning to Ithaca from the war on Troy. His wife, Penelope, the queen of Ithaca, is left to entertain a myriad of suitors, many of them presuming that Odysseus is dead and that she should remarry, all the while eating the food she needs to feed those remaining on the island. Claire North recounts the story of Penelope, told through the eyes of Hera, Zeus’ wife and the goddess of marriage and the welfare of women and children. Penelope rules with a quiet grace and a subtle strength, wielding a decision by refusing to make a decision, by slowly unpicking a funeral tapestry at night—the very tapestry she will need to finish before she chooses a new husband. Ithaca is a celebration of strong women and the lengths in which they will go to protect their home and family.

Other New Reads

“Hester” by Laurie Lico Albanese

A darkly bewitching novel inspired by “The Scarlet Letter,” Isobel Gamble’s friendship with Nat Hawthorne quickly blooms into forbidden intimacy, highlighting cruel double standards and the dangers inherent in flouting them.

“Ben and Beatriz” by Katalina Gamarra

A retelling of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” like never before. After the 2016 election, queer and biracial Beatriz lands at the Cape Cod mansion of playboy Ben Montgomery, maybe the last person on her dating radar. But does love always make sense?

“Kaikeyi” by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi is thought of as the villainess in the Ramanyana, exiling her stepson Rama to the wilderness for a period of 14 years. In this literary novel, Patel reimagines the story of Kaikeyi, placing her front and center and highlighting her life and the cause of her actions.

Want to hear more book talk? Join Doug and Lori, hosts of Baltimore County Public Library’s Either/Or Book Club on the second Tuesday of each month, live on Facebook at bcplonline, 7 p.m.

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