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Book Bites: 21 January

Published in the Sunday Times

100 Nasty Women of History
****
Hannah Jewell, Hodder & Stoughton, R315

Every feminist and generally decent person felt a severe pang of disappointment when Trump won the US elections. Hannah Jewell wrote 100 Nasty Women of History in retaliation for his calling Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman”. Open this book and learn the names and stories of some of history’s coolest “nasty” women – like the most successful pirate ever, or some of the many brilliant female poets forgotten over time. Be pleasantly surprised by the number of factors in today’s everyday life that have been shaped by women, like the technology used for Wi-Fi or the numbering system of 1, 2, 3. This light-hearted collection of brief biographies provides, in very crude language and colloquialisms, a small bit of justice every feminist needs. – Jessica Evans

I’ll Take the Sunny Side
****
Gordon Forbes, Bookstorm, R290

Gordon Forbes is best known for his tennis memoir A Handful of Summers, which decades on is still in print. In this new book he returns to the international tennis circuit of yesteryear, but he adds much more. Forbes belongs to a distinguished lunch club that meets once a month and includes such friends as the historian Charles van Onselen, columnist James Clarke and the author Richard Steyn. All are men of letters, all are of a certain age, and they ruminate and crack wise about politics, growing old and sport. From discussing the oysters on the buffet table, to the unseemly yowls of women tennis players to the best boots for the Otter Trail, this is a charming memoir of full lives and friendship. – Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

Future Home of the Living God
****
Louise Erdrich, Corsair, R295

Louise Erdrich has created a chilling dystopian thriller. In the spirit of The Handmaid’s Tale, women’s bodies are the central theme as Cedar and her family attempt to hide her pregnancy. Evolution has stalled, reversed, genetically malfunctioned, creating religious fervour and a national state of emergency. Women are being torn from their families, held captive, while the survival rate for birthing mothers plummets. This is a new beginning, where your friends may be your enemies, your postman a spy, and women are drafted in and forced to incubate embryos from a different age. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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