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Saturday, 12 December 2020




A woman rides crocodiles like horses. A queen gives up her throne for her dignity. And Prince Charming is not who you might think . . .

The Woman of the Wolf and Other Stories, written in 1904, is perhaps the finest work by sapphic poet Renée Vivien. Blending myth, fairy story and biblical tale, Vivien creates powerful portraits of strong women who stand up for what they believe in – and of the aggrieved men who trail behind them.

Bold, defiant and suffused with a unique poetic voice, this scintillating collection of short stories offers a radical alternative to traditional lore.




This was a strong mix of short stories, many very cutting about men, but made for a fun and thought provoking look at sexist attitudes and the roles of women from the perspective of men. And considering it was first published over 100 years ago, it is pointedly still very relevant!!

There are 17 tales in total that revolve around myths and bible tales, and all featuring a very dark humour that always appeals to me! It felt so modern and feminist, which is a little worrying that we don't seem to have come very far over the years with a lot of the behaviours of men still prevelant!

I loved the mix of stories and they all featured many fearless, confident and resilient women, played nicely off against the weaker sex!! Stories involve a she-wolf, deception, murder, brutality, fantasy and adventure and just seemed to be the perfect length of stories. I often find with short stories that there are more misses than hits, but not with this one! The darker they got, the more I lapped them up!!




Much acclaimed amongst her contemporaries and yet all but forgotten today, Marie-Louise Gagneur was a defining voice in French feminism. These stories, translated into English for the first time, critique the restrictions of late nineteenth-century society and explore the ways in which both men and women are hurt by rigid attitudes towards marriage.

In ‘An Atonement’, the Count de Montbarrey awakes one morning to find his wife dead, leaving him free to marry the woman he really loves. Could the Count have accidentally killed his wife? And how can he atone for his crime?

‘Three Rival Sisters’ tells the story of the rivalry between Henriette, Renée and Gabrielle as they compete for the affections of one man. But marriage does not necessarily guarantee happiness, as the sisters are about to find out.

Steeped in wit, empathy and biting social criticism, and with echoes of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin, these stories show Gagneur to be worthy of renewed attention.




Two brilliant short stories all wrapped up in one lovely book package for you - what more could you want?!

The main story is Three Rival Sisters which is a biting look at the lengths 3 sisters will go to for the love (and money!) of one man! They are all brought up to believe that love and marriage are the only things that will bring them happiness, but they soon find out that this clearly isn't true! But their main focus is to be the one that catches the eye of the wealthy suitor, who seems only too willing to pit each sister against one another! What a catch!!

I loved how the author explored the way the women were programmed to think from a young age. What they perceived as 'love' was really just about wanting to cement their place in society, and the role the father played in just wanting his daughters married off. With 2 weddings taking place on one day, we see that the 'happy ever after' was anything but and how that affected the relationships of the sisters over the years when they got to see beyond their marriage goals, and reconnect as family once more.

And the second story, An Atonement, is a much shorter offering but still exploring the role of marriage and love through the eyes of the Count de Montbarrey who finds himself plagued with guilt when he finds his wife dead one morning, leaving him free to marry his 'true love'. His wife had been very sick and their marriage was to please his family. With her out of the way, he soon remarries but he can't seem to get past the feelings of remorse and regret and that leads him to take on a different role as he feels he needs to atone for his past indiscretions. At only 43 pages long, it really does pack a punch!


My thanks to Gallic Books for the advanced reader copies of both books in return for a fair and honest review.

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