The Literary Origins of Contemporary Female Experience

The foundational texts of a young lady of habit circa 1995, or what girls read before the Golden Age of Young Adult Fiction and the arrival of The Golden Compass, Twilight and The Hunger Games:

The Betsy-Tacy Books

I will forever crave onion sandwiches and believe that I am entitled to a Grand Tour in Europe.

Anne of Green Gables


But really I mean Anne of the Island or the Diana books, ’cause that is when the full domesticity porn started.

Alanna-The Song of the Lioness Series


If you wish Arya (from Game of Thrones) had her own series, rejoice! More importantly, these books instilled in me the truth that all the best romances come from cross dressing.

A Ring of Endless Light


Or really, I should say, any of the Vicky Austin books (Troubling a Star, The Moon by Night) or Polly O’Keefe books (The Arm of the Starfish, A House like a Lotus). A Wrinkle in Time might be L’Engle’s most celebrated work, but these other series were the ones that made me dream of going to Lisbon, Antarctica, and Massachusetts. They have tons of romance but they are also strangely fantastic and mystical without going full sci-fi or fantasy. They are kind of romantic mysteries about science!



4 thoughts on “The Literary Origins of Contemporary Female Experience

  1. If you want to go hardcore with your Montgomerian domesticity reading, try Pat of Silver Bush and its sequel* Mistress Pat. She basically falls in love with, and rejects suitors because of her house. Entire chapters revolve around spring cleaning. In other words, fantastic.

    *Or as Judy would say, “squeal.” A little Pat joke for those in the know.


  2. Hmm…I hadn’t thought of it this way before, but Pat is definitely not your average early twentieth-century romantic heroine. It’s interesting, because the story is an apologia of the importance and pleasures of domesticity that doesn’t have a hetero relationship at its core until–SPOILER ALERT– the very, very end of the series. I guess I’ll have to (sigh) read it all again with a new lens.

  3. Pingback: Respect the New YA | ladies of habit

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