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Read it First: Women Writers

Elizabeth Graney, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Collage of films adapted from books
In honor of Women’s History Month, this month’s Read it First are stories by women authors translated to film

Since the publication of Anne Bradstreet’s book of poems The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America in 1650, women have been writing and publishing in America. From Bradstreet’s proto-feminist lyrics to the bestseller novels penned today, women writers have broken barriers and transformed the literary world through their works. In honor of Women’s History Month, celebrated each March, we have dedicated this month’s Read it First to stories by women authors translated to film. Let us take a look at writers whose works have championed women’s stories and tackled the unique relationships women share as mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

Watch and Read at Home

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Wells, Rebecca

After Siddalee Walker’s interview with the New York Times describes her mother as a “tap-dancing child abuser,” their volatile relationship turns ice cold. Desperate to find out what lies at the root of their dysfunction, Sidda delves into her mother’s past through a scrapbook titled “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.” There she discovers the sometimes hilarious and always touching story of the unbreakable bond between her mother and her closest friends. From their deepest heartbreaks to their riotous joy and the mess of everything in between, the story of the Ya Ya’s celebrates the powerful and healing bonds of female friendship. The 2002 film adaptation starring Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd and Maggie Smith can be checked out on DVD using out Library to Go service today. 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Flagg, Fannie

Evelyn Couch dreads her weekly visits to her mother in law at the nursing home. Until the day she meets the charming Ninny Threadgoode whose stories of the past and her family in Whistle Stop, Alabama enchant Evelyn and give her the courage to confront the fears that have held her back. Weaving together the modern day and Ninny’s stories of the past, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg explores the transformative power of love in all its forms. The 1991 film adaptation was released under the title Fried Green Tomatoes and starred Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary-Louise Parker. 

The Joy Luck Club
Tan, Amy

In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to the San Francisco area, started a weekly mahjong club. Over the following decades, they formed a deep connection, sharing their joys and their hardships over a little gambling and a lot of good food. Told as a series of tales about these women and their daughters, The Joy Luck Club is a testament to the powerful bonds women make and the often bittersweet love between mother and daughter. The 1993 film adaptation starring Ming-Na Wen, Rosalind Chao, and Tamlyn Tomita can be streamed on hoopla

Little Women
Alcott, Louisa May

Louisa May Alcott’s perennial classic Little Women is the beloved tale of the March sisters as they grow from childhood to adulthood. Follow strong-willed Jo, compassionate Beth, artistic Amy, and romantic Meg as they learn the meaning of family and true wealth while discovering lives of their own. Alcott’s cherished story of sisterly bonds has been adapted to film seven times, has numerous television adaptations, three musical adaptations, an opera, and three radio plays to its name. You can check out a DVD of any of the cinematic adaptations with your library card today!

The Price of Salt
Highsmith, Patricia

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith is the story of two women who discover in each other friendship, comfort and true love. When Therese and Carol meet they are both stuck in lives that don't fit, with people they don't love. In each other, they discover how much more life can offer. But their newfound happiness is threatened when Carol's estranged husband uses their relationship to threaten her custody of her daughter. How can a person choose between love and family? The 2015 film adaptation was released under the title Carol and starred Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. It was named the best LGBT film of all time by the British Film Institute and garnered six Oscar nominations.

The Secret Life of Bees
Monk Kidd, Sue

After losing her mother to a tragic accident at a young age, Lily Owens has always turned to Rosaleen, her African American housekeeper, as a mother figure. When Rosaleen gets in trouble for insulting three white men, she and Lily go on the lam. Winding up in Tiburon, South Carolina they befriend a trio of beekeeping sisters who may hold the answer to the secret of Lily’s mother’s past. Sue Monk Kidd’s beautiful debut novel The Secret Life of Bees is a celebration of mothers in all their forms and the redemptive power of love. The 2008 film adaptation starring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys can be checked out on DVD using our Library to Go Service today.

Waiting to Exhale
McMillan, Terry

Terry McMillan’s bestselling novel Waiting to Exhale is the funny and heartfelt story of the vibrant friendship between four African American women who turn to each other when the men in their lives disappoint them. From cheating exes to single parenthood to the woes of dating, Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria and Robin support each other through it all. The 1995 film adaptation starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett was the directorial debut for Forest Whitaker. You can check out the DVD using our Library to Go service.