Top Ten Novels by Female Authors
While there have been many classic and much-loved novels written throughout the centuries, it’s not until recently that the literary landscape has become more gender-inclusive. Having previously been largely excluded from this profession, or forced to use male pseudonyms, here at Lily Ella, we believe it’s important that we recognise and celebrate the exciting and diverse work of a range of talented female novelists. Therefore, from cultural classics to new arrivals, we’ve created a list of the top 10 novels by female authors. Ranging from books written by well-known novelists to works’ written by those new to the scene, read on to find a list of the best books by female authors.
After all, there’s nothing better than cosying up with a good book and a cup of tea or coffee to unwind at the end of the day. Though, with so many books out there, the choice of what to read next can be quite overwhelming to say the least. If you’re looking for some guidance or inspiration on what to add to your bookshelf, or to your ever-growing list of audiobooks, join us as we share arguably some of the best books written by female authors. From classics to best-sellers and more, we’ll cover a comprehensive range of genres, topics, and writing styles, to help you find a new favourite in no time.
Best Books by Female Authors
1) Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
After a decades-long career as a zoologist and conservationist, Delia Owens opted for a career change and published her debut novel ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ at age 74. Since its publication, this popular piece of literary fiction has made Owens a bestselling female author, and the novel has even been adapted into a film.
Set in the 1950s, this compelling fiction novel follows the life of Kya, a girl abandoned in the marsh and left to fend for herself after being shunned by the community. So it’s no surprise that when a popular young male from the town is found dead, Kya quickly becomes a leading suspect in the case. In this gripping novel, not all is as it seems. With plenty of twists, turns, and secrets to keep you engaged throughout, there’s no wonder why this captivating book made our list of the best novels written by female authors.
2) Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
If you’re looking for a classic thriller novel written by a female author, we believe Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a great place to start. Arguably one of the best female authors from the UK, Daphne Du Maurier published her first novel in 1931 and received international acclaim for this book in 1938.
Following her resonant and slightly paranormal writing style, Du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca, follows an unnamed young woman who marries a wealthy widower. However, after moving into his stately home, she soon becomes haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca, and a sinister housekeeper who was duly devoted to her. Dark secrets and revelations make this book a truly gripping read, threatening to dissolve the infamous Manderly estate once and for all.
3) A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
American author Hanya Yanagihara has taken the world by storm with her gut-wrenching novel, A Little Life. Selling over a million copies since its publication in 2015, to say this book is a success would be an understatement. However, readers should be warned that A Little Life is a long read and is certainly not one for the faint-hearted.
Addressing a range of difficult subject matters, this is a truly emotional and captivating choice that, although a great read, is bound to leave you heartbroken. Though certainly not a light read, the critically acclaimed book is written with depth, perception, and intelligence. If you’re looking for a novel that will shock you and make you think twice about everyday life, including friendships and society, A Little Life might be the perfect book for you.
4) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid is the mastermind behind this immensely popular historical fiction novel, published in 2017. Having recently taken social media by storm, this captivating read follows the highs and lows of Evelyn Hugo as she tries to secure an A-list place in the Hollywood acting industry. At age 79, in her final interview with a journalist, Hugo spills the details of her life, including marrying seven men - all of whom she outlived. In this cinematic tale, Evelyn’s character is said to be loosely based on the popular 1950s actress, Elizabeth Taylor, and provides a contemporary nod to the early days of Hollywood.
5) The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper - Hallie Rubenhold
Straying away from literary fiction, The Five is a very interesting read for fans of true crime. Traditionally, pieces written about Jack the Ripper had a tendency to focus on the gruesome scenes of the crimes committed, without any regard for the privacy of the victims and their families. However, Historian Hallie Rubenhold takes a much different approach, adopting a more humane and personal perspective, focusing on the lives of his five victims as children, women, wives, and mothers.
Shining a light on their stories in a compassionate way, this true crime novel helps to restore the dignity and humanity of these women, condemning previous works’ that labelled them as perceived ‘fallen women’, deriving from old and outdated views in late 19th-century Britain
6) Middlemarch - George Eliot
If you haven’t heard of this book before, the name may take you by surprise. George Eliot was the pen name of English author Mary Anne Evans who published this book in 1871. Due to misogynistic views, Mary could not use her real name, and, like many female authors at the time, likely had no choice but to publish under a male pen name. Although this is no longer the case, back in the 19th century, outdated views on gender meant that it was seen as common practice for female authors to do this, even if this was against their wishes.
If you like classic books by female authors, this novel isn’t one to be missed. Middlemarch follows the life of a range of interesting characters, touching on all aspects of modern life including politics, society, religion, and art. Most importantly, it focuses on the imperfection of marriage and human relationships. Eliot draws readers into the narrative with a well thought out and memorable prose, making it an excellent read.
7) The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane - Lisa See
Books have a wonderful way of being able to transport you into different countries and cultures. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, a diverse novel which does just that, was published in 2017 by the then 62-year-old Lisa See, a #1 New York Times bestselling author.
A powerful novel that focuses on the culture and circumstances of the native Akha people of Xishuangbanna in China, it follows the lives of Li-Yan and her long-lost daughter Hayley, who was raised in California after adoption. The story has so much heart, and with a language that flows well, it’s easy to form an attachment to the characters. A page-turner that deserves plenty of recognition, we simply couldn’t leave this out of our list of famous books by female authors
8) Pachinko - Min Jin Lee
Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author who cites one of her greatest literary influences as Middlemarch by Mary Anne Evans (using the pen name George Eliot, number 6 on this list!). Pachinko, published in 2017, is an epic historical tale that follows the lives of a Korean family through the generations, who eventually immigrate to Japan after the country was colonized by Imperial Japanese forces. The beautifully written story touches on the themes of discrimination, power, and stereotypes during World War II. Even with no prior interest or knowledge of the history of Japan, Korea, or WWII, this book makes it easy to become invested in these characters' lives and will leave you wondering what’s next.
9) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
Written by Scottish author Gail Honeyman and published in 2017, Eleanor Oliphant is an award-winning best-seller. Following a dominant theme of loneliness and isolation that prompts the main character to transform her life and deepen her understanding of herself, as well as uncover what it means to live a more fulfilling life, this novel is a relatable and motivating read. With a film rumoured to be currently in the works, the book is funny, sad, and smart - all at the same time. The ideal novel to help get you out of a reading slump, at 383 pages, this is a good, bite-sized read and shouldn’t take long to finish.
10) The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
An American classic, The Bell Jar is the only novel written by leading 20th-century American poet, Sylvia Plath. Following the life of a talented student who dreams of becoming a poet, Plath captures the harrowing nature of the human psyche as the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, struggles with her own mental health issues and the societal expectations of women in the 1950s. A daring and advanced novel for the time period, The Bell Jar is an inspiring tale and a must-read for lovers of classic books.
Cosy up and read with Lily Ella
We hope that this list has inspired you to pick up a new female-written novel and get reading. Whether you’re looking for current bestselling books or more classic novels written by famous female authors or upcoming female writers, we’ve included a varied list that covers a diverse range of themes and topics to help you pick your new favourite novel.
At Lily Ella, reading is one of our favourite pastimes, and we prefer to do this in comfort. Therefore, we highly recommend wearing a soft pair of Lily Ella women’s socks or cosy slippers and your best comfortable dressing gown before making a hot drink and getting lost in a new book.
For total relaxation, we recommend trying the Lily Ella Darna Lounge Set. Available in 4 different colours and luxuriously comfortable - perfect for reading in! Indulge yourself with a treat and get the Darna set for £79.95.