Review: ‘Wayward Girls and Wicked Women’ ed. Angela Carter

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Friday, August 20, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

This collection of stories, about bad girls and wicked women, extols the female virtues of discontent, sexual disruptiveness and bad manners. The authors featured include Ama Ata Aidoo, Djuna Barnes, Jane Bowles, Colette, Bessie Head, Katherine Mansfield and Jamaica Kincaid.  (Goodreads Summary)

Although I really enjoy Angela Carter’s own short stories, evidently I’m not as keen on her choice of those of other writers. Perhaps it was the collection of so many female-centred stories in one book, but I did feel that I was being beaten over the head with conspicious feminism a lot of the time, as strings of women were driven to the titular ‘wickedness’ through the opressive situations in which they found themselves rather than any real fault of their own. The tone of the book seems to ask “but what else could they have done?” which, while it’s an interesting perspective to read from, did get a little wearing.

That complaint aside, there were some stories that I really enjoyed. The folk tale style of the story of Lena and Una, complete with typical folk justice, was particularly good and the haunting story of the Okes of Okehampton reminded me of Daphne du Maurier. All in all, an interesting collection, but not one I think I’m likely to read again.

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women ed. Angela Carter.  Published by Virago, 2004, pp. 339.  Originally published in 1986.

N.B. This is an old review written in 2010 and posted on Goodreads and LibraryThing before I started keeping track of all the books I read here at Old English Rose Reads.  I’ve decided to keep copies here so that this remains a complete record of my reading since I started reviewing books for my own pleasure.

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