I always enjoy the novels of Isabelle Allende, so I got her non-fiction work The Soul of a Woman for my birthday last year. This is her musing on Feminism, her life and the choices she made, what it is like for women today and her optimism as she has approached relationships and marriages, including her latest one, which she embarked on in her mid-70s. It is a book written in the first Covid lockdown and seems a good example of the introspection many of us were been doing in that time away from family and friends. Allende concludes that women ‘want to be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to have their own resources, to be connected, to have control over their bodies and their lives, and above all, to be loved.’ This seems an excellent summary to me.
I recently followed this up with another writer’s memoir, Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan, another San Francisco-based female writer who is a favourite of mine. This is a step into the mind of the author, through snapshots of her life and memories, as she goes through boxes of mementoes from her past and shares letters she wrote to her mother when she was young that she has now inherited and emails from the present between her and her editor, which are a fascinating insight into the process of writing. There are also old photographs, photocopies of lists and interludes of musings on life. Reading it is like sitting with her with a cup of tea and delving into her past to understand the author she has become.