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Good Gals Gone Bad, Gone Good...Maybe

Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library,
Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde
Charlize Theron in "Atomic Blonde." Image courtesy of Focus Features.

The TV serialization of two novels, Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies, has brought attention to a new crop of novels. They are edgy, psychological, thriller, suspense stories with distinct characteristics. They have complicated plots often with dead-ends or red herrings—characters with flawed personalities and/or dysfunctional families—and there is an overall sinister and threatening undercurrent. A key feature is one female protagonist (sometimes more than one), who is running on high octane, driven by a troubled past and facing an uncertain future—she has been wronged, is fed up, angry, and not going to take much more of anything from anyone. The endings of these books are not neatly tied up with a comforting resolution, more often than not, we are left with doubts and questions.

3 actresses running on the beach

Big Little Lies ladies literally running. Image courtesy of © 2018 Home Box Office, Inc.

For similar books by recent authors check out the following: Lori Rader-Day, Tana French, Mary Kubica, Paula Hawkins, Liane Moriarity. For edgier stories, some with elements of magical realism, consider: Angela Carter, Rachel Ingalls, Kelly Link, and Clarice Lispector. There are even more recommendations in NoveList, which is a great resource we have at the library where you can search for “Read Alikes” to favorite books and authors.

Bette Davis in All About Eve

Actress Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a highly regarded but aging Broadway star in All About Eve. Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

It is well worth looking at some other sassy dames, who were in distress, and took charge of their own lives. As Margo Channing said, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Sassy Dames in Distress

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World
Shen, Ann, author, artist.

Big Little Lies
Moriarty, Liane,

Come Along With Me: Classic Short Stories and an Unfinished Novel
Jackson, Shirley, 1916-1965.

Double Indemnity
Cain, James M. (James Mallahan), 1892-1977.

Girl on the Train: A Novel
Hawkins, Paula.

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Machado, Carmen Maria,

Hi, This is Conchita and Other Stories
Roncagliolo, Santiago,

Santiago Roncagliolo has written a very sassy, funny and touching short story collection about relationships and communication.

The Honey Farm: A Novel
Lye, Harriet Alida,

Kill Bill Volume 1

Kill Bill Volume 2

The Little Foxes

Mildred Pierce
Cain, James M. (James Mallahan), 1892-1977.

Paradine Case: A Novel
Hichens, Robert, 1864-1950.

The Postman Always Rings Twice
Cain, James M. (James Mallahan), 1892-1977.

Sharp Objects: A Novel
Flynn, Gillian, 1971-

Three Masquerades
Ingalls, Rachel,

Washington Square
James, Henry, 1843-1916.

What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal
Heller, Zoe.