The best books that rediscover women’s power

The Books I Picked & Why

The Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley

Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Why this book?

This was the first book I read that retold a myth from a feminine perspective. Past versions of the Arthurian legend vilified Morgaine - she was a strong powerful priestess, after all. Her voice was strong on the page and made a lasting impression. The novel also explores the transition from Pagan / Druid worship to Christianity. I love exploring the space within transitions and not surprising, this theme is reflected in my work.   


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Circe

By Madeline Miller

Book cover of Circe

Why this book?

Surprise, another book from a female perspective in this wonderful re-telling of a Greek myth. I grew up savoring Greek mythology, but it wasn’t until I started researching for my book that I discovered different perspectives and re-telling of myths that had been usurped by a conquering culture. In this case, patriarchy. Madeline Miller has a lovely flowing style and her book is inspiring through its female point of view in the telling of this part of Odysseus’ journey.


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When God Was a Woman

By Merlin Stone

Book cover of When God Was a Woman

Why this book?

This non-fiction book provided important research for my novel. Stone documents the religion of ancient Goddesses without conforming to a Judea-Christian version. She ascribes women’s roles with more prominence and asserts contemporary women’s oppression is founded on intentional repression of powerful female archetypes. In writing about the transitional shift from matriarchy to patriarchy, Stone’s archeological data provided a strong foundation for my story of the Minoans.


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The Moon and the Virgin: Reflections on the Archetypal Feminine

By Nor Hall

Book cover of The Moon and the Virgin: Reflections on the Archetypal Feminine

Why this book?

This non-fiction book helped to reshape my reading of historical and mythological women and to understand representation and the voice of the ‘other’. Hall explores the power and (ab)use of language and how feminine myths and symbols are important to be unveiled and celebrated. Her Jungian perspective introduced me to archetypes, especially in mythology, and remains an inspiration to both my theatre work and my writing. 


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The Women's Room

By Marilyn French

Book cover of The Women's Room

Why this book?

I read this book over thirty years ago and despite not returning to it, count it as having a significant impact on my work. It is an emotionally charged and powerful book, and I remember being incredibly angry, and sad, and passionate for change. It introduced me to feminism and feminist literature. It shone the light on the need to hear women’s voices in the public realm.


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