Book Reviews

Top 5 Wednesday: Independent Ladies


I’m skipping some really obvious ones like anyone in Harry Potter (there ARE great ones in there!) or Laura or Anne or Jo or other classic Independent gals. I’m also skipping political ones like Eleanor or Michelle or even Barbara Bush (the First Lady, not the granddaughter).  I wanted some different ones that those happening on this blog, possibly for the first time, haven’t necessarily heard of yet.

Fictional Women


Mame Dennis was a master at re-inventing hereself way before the term was coined. Her approach to life was certainly unorthodox but also a lot of fun. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis–one of the first “grown up” laugh-out-loud books I read. I’ve re-read it countless times. She is beautifully played by Roslind Russell in the movie, Auntie Mame and less well by Lucille Ball in the musical Mame, but both versions are fun.


First of all, purge from your mind the ridiculous Disney version with Julie Andrews.  I love it, too, (especially the penguins) but it is not the independent, devious, far-more-interesting Mary Poppins of the books. THAT Mary Poppins could have solved the Middle East crisis, or anything else, just with the contents of her carpet bag. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.


Hester Latterly, a courageous young woman who tested her mettle as a nurse in Crimea with Florence Nightingale is about as independent as Victorian London allows a decently-born woman to be. She is one of the three main characters in this series. Note: The crimes in this series are often sexual so it may not be acceptable to all readers. I have read all but the latest 3 or 4 and only found 2 that really “got to me” in a bad way, but, Hester’s role was one of the things that compelled me to finish those two books. I haven’t reviewed most of these since series are difficult to review without spoilers for those just starting to read them. The William Monk series by Anne Perry.

Fictionalized Real-Life Woman


British fossil collector/authority, Mary Anning was real and Tracy Chevalier brings her beautifully to life. Little is truly known about her beyond her contributions to science. Remarkable Creatures.

Real-Life Independent Women


Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood  (I’m counting them as “one” since they are in the same book) were bored to death at home with their parents, waiting for marriage, in 1916 Auburn, New York. So they decided to do something worthwhile and went out to the wilds of Colorado to teach school.  I can’t say enough good about these two, or about this book. Just read it! Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.



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3 thoughts on “Top 5 Wednesday: Independent Ladies

  1. I like your list! I’m glad you introduced me to Auntie Mame, and Nothing Daunted is on my to-read list … I’ve read another book by Chevalier that I loved. And you make me think I need to read Mary Poppins. I know Travers was a force to be reckoned with.

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