Sunday, April 22, 2012

Women's Roles in Historical Fiction - Two Reviews of Michal's Window

How can a 21st century woman relate to one born more than thirty centuries ago? How can we understand the limitations of her role in society? How can we empathize with her plight and her will to achieve respect and happiness?

Michal's Window brings us back to ancient Israel, 1000 years before Christ, to a bloody and brutal time where women, even royalty, were merely possessions to be bought and sold as prizes for political gain.

Carol Bodensteiner's blog, Just Walking the Earth, reviews Michal's Window as a book that brings the story of a forgotten woman to life in vivid details -- "a fascinating view of the women who receive only passing mention behind the men in stories we may think we know so well." It reminded her of Anita Diamant's THE RED TENT, another book written from the point of view of a woman whose name is virtually forgotten in the dust of history.

Rebecca Berto's bloc, Novel Girl, portrays Michal's Window as a complex book that made her angry. The limited roles of women and their position in the culture made it difficult for Michal to truly gain the type of life we take for granted. Nevertheless, just like Charlotte Bronte's heroine, JANE EYRE, Michal wrestles a modicum of happiness and acceptance for herself amidst a difficult situation. Rebecca warns us that this is no cliche' romance, so don't expect David to run after her right before her plane takes off. Nevertheless, "Michal's Window is a story unlike anything you’ll read this year."

Check out their reviews here:

What do you think? Do you enjoy historical fiction? Or do you read with a jaundiced eye, glad that you are not walking in their sandals?

6 comments:

  1. As a writer of historical fiction, I face the challenge even with a character from 100 years ago. Getting readers to relate to someone who has no TV, no radio, no computer, and one of three career options: housewife, teacher, and nurse. Makes for fun writing and fun reading!

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    1. True. I can't read history without putting myself in their shoes and wondering what life was like back then. I imagine human nature doesn't really change and women back then had the same yearnings we have, even if less opportunity to express it.

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  2. I really enjoy Historical Fiction. During the summer of 1984 I spent 6 weeks there. One scene I think about often is an old Arab women sitting under a tarp making some kind of bread, and using a rock as an stove. It did not appear that her life has changed much in that last 1000 years.
    We should really review more Historical Fiction on http://www.spunkybean.com/ Remembering the past helps us not make the same kinds of mistakes in the future.

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    1. Mike, I do wonder when I see pictures of people or people in the streets and start imagining what their life is like. Some women like historical fiction because they like to get lost in the past, so it's not all negative. Let me know if you're interested in reviewing Michal's Window. @AyalaRachelle on Twitter.

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  3. I love historical romance! That is one of the main reasons I write in that genre! lol
    I don't think its difficult to portray a strong woman no matter what century she comes from. Women are inherently strong, or at least I think they are! Give us an obstacle and we can find away around it. ;o)

    Suzan Tisdale

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    1. Oh, yes, women had better be strong to endure the pains of childbirth. And in many ways, I think women in the past were stronger than we pampered ones in the 21st century. Thanks for stopping by. I like Highlander books too.

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