Monday, June 17, 2024

Reading Lately: Women's Prize Longlist 2024


I've read half of the Women's Prize Longlist for 2024! That is probably going to be all I read, to be honest, as I only wanted to read the titles I initially found interesting. I watched several reaction videos when the longlist was first announced, with many readers expressing annoyance at how so many of these titles were unknown or seemingly came out of nowhere. But, I was happy to see so many less-famous titles and be introduced to new authors and settings. The winner has now been announced, and it is Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan. I wholeheartedly agree with this selection!

Here are my thoughts, from favorite to least favorite:

Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy: This is the most accurate portrayal of motherhood to a young child that I have ever read. The husband drove me nuts (which I think was the point). If you are a parent, read this to feel seen, and if you don't have kids, read this to know what parents are going through. Really, nothing has captured the conflict between the exhaustion of parenting, loss of self, and love for a child better.

Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan: This book takes place mostly during the 1980s when the Sri Lankan civil war began and intensified. Following Sashi and her family (she has four brothers, referenced in the title), we see the impact of the war on a Tamil family and read of their various levels of involvement. Sashi is pulled in two directions, wanting to continue her education to become a doctor, and her loyalty to her brothers and a cause she doesn't always support. I learned so much about this time and place; the writing is accessible and I think most every reader would get something out of this book.

River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure: I write about this more in length in my last reading post; I really enjoyed this coming of age story that spanned generations in Shanghai.

Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan: This did not make the shortlist, but wish it had! After a horrific crime occurs, the family involved hides away in a hotel but is preyed upon by a tabloid journalist trying to get a scoop. We read about the family's history in Ireland and how that history impacts present-day events. I thought this was quite well written and I felt engaged with the characters. This was a perfect mix between slow family drama, and a plot that moves the book forward.

The Maiden by Kate Foster: This book falls lower on my list not because it wasn't a great read, but because I didn't think it was quite up to prize level. The story of a woman in the middle ages accused of killing her lover, this book was so much fun.

Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville: While I found Dolly's story fascinating, I didn't enjoy the writing style. There is barely any dialogue in this book, and a lot of "and then they did this, and then they moved there." Dolly is a forceful woman in a time where women didn't have a lot of opportunities. Based on a real person, Dolly makes her own life in turn of the century Australia, succeeding in business and taking her family along for the ride. 

Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad: The setting in Palestine makes this a very timely read, and I did think that the theme of belonging was carried out successfully. Sonia is Palestinian, but lives in Britain and has a Dutch mother. She returns for a visit to Palestine and ends up acting in a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. While I did find the examination of place to be interesting, ultimately I was bored by a lot of this book and didn't think any of the characters were developed besides Sonia and the play's director, Miriam.

The Wren, The Wren by Ann Enright: I know a lot of readers enjoyed this book, and even have it among their favorites, but I could not get into it. I didn't connect with either of the main characters, a mother and daughter. I would call this a "quiet book" where not a lot happens, and truthfully after reading it a month ago I have forgotten most of it. I thought the theme of family connections and the impact of older generations on the younger was very similar to the theme of Ordinary Human Failings, which in my opinion was much more successful.

This was the first time I attempted to read a prize list; would I do it again? I think the Women's Prize was the perfect selection for me, and I will potentially do it again next year depending on the longlist. It was a fun experience because it seemed like I was part of a huge book club and I had much more interest in the selection of the winner. If you haven't read a prize list before, I urge you to go for it!


  1. I read all the Women's Prize for Fiction winners in the last few years and it was such a fun exercise. I haven't read Brotherless Night yet, but I immediately ordered it from the library after seeing it here.

    I read The Idea of Perfection from Kate Grenville because it won the Women's Prize in 2001 and while I appreciated the writing, I didn't really care about any of the characters. It was evocative of a certain time and place in Australia, but I'm not sure I'd go back for more of Grenville's books.

    1. I have a goal to read all of the winners as well, I need to search your blog for all your reviews so I know what to read first!

  2. I haven't read a single one of those! I typically read only women writers; the occasional man will slip past the goalie, as it were, but usually I only gravitate towards women. One year I read all the Booker Prize shortlist, and that was a lot of fun.

    1. I think the Women's Prize would be right up your alley! This year it seemed they focused on not only women writers, but women writing ABOUT women.

  3. Unfortunately I haven't read any of these books yet. I'm still enjoying reading some ancient classics at the moment which is something I never thought that I would do.
    Happy reading, Sarah.


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