Ask MeFi: books about historical women

looking for well-written, compelling books about historical women

Some non-fiction can be written in a dry academic fashion.

Then there’s the fun stuff, like Bill Bryson, and the “this reads like a well done novel”, like Bruce Catton.

I’m looking for more stuff like those, easy or gripping reads– but I’m specifically looking for books about historical women (historical = let’s say no later than 1950, and earlier than that is better).

Can be specific women, can be groups of women, can be women as a whole at a specific place/time.

If book isn’t exclusively about woman/en but features them very prominently (like, say, a married couple with each half getting equal screentime) that’s okay also.

MeFi: Yes, Anthony Bourdain did eventually read No Reservations, Narnia

This is the story of how a most unusual piece of fanfiction was reviewed in The New Yorker by Anthony Bourdain.

Some years ago, as part of the annual Yuletide fanfiction challenge/gift exchange, a writer with the pseudonym Edonohana posted a short story. Because it was Yuletide, which is about small fandoms, and because “small fandoms” can include just about anything (past Yuletide fandoms include anthropomorphic geography, long-dead political figures, board games, and more standard fare like beloved childhood comics), the recipient of the story in question requested Real Person Fic (RPF) involving Anthony Bourdain.

So Edonohana posted what was to be the breakout story of Yuletide 2010: No Reservations, Narnia: a story in which Anthony Bourdain goes to Narnia and has three meals. It’s a marvelous story, rich with detail and creativity, and stunning in its evocation of Bourdain’s voice. It’s the type of story that people point to when they try to defend the very concept of fanfiction as its own literary form.

Most people would have expected that over the ensuing years, Bourdain would have been forwarded the link to the story (the way someone sent the “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” gang the link to Wait Wait Don’t Eat Me). But apparently nobody ever sent it to him.

Until this year, not long before he died, when food writer Helen Rosner of the New Yorker sent it to Bourdain, and interviewed Edonohana herself about the story. Edonohana herself on the story, and Bourdain, and food.