Yet Another Top 10 List – Bleak Books

by dollydelightly

Last week, The Daily Telegraph published a feature entitled Depressing Books Could Be Just What The Doctor Ordered, where the paper’s online Culture Editor, Martin Chilton, considered the appeal of some truly bleak books. At the end of it Chilton compiled a list of 20 depressing novels only two of which were written by female authors. This ostensible disproportion got me thinking about all the intelligent and insightful gloomy novels penned by women. There are many, far too many to include in a single list so I have whittled them down to 10, which is something Chilton should have done to balance out the inequality. Marguerite Duras once said that “men like women who write, even though they don’t say so,” but I think all of us wish that they did say so and not just in lists but also in life.

This list is arranged in alphabetic order by the first letter of the writer’s surname. It doesn’t claim to be comprehensive and reflects my own reading preferences and prejudices.

Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen
“I suspect victims; they win in the long run.”

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald
“Memories should be sharp when one has nothing else to live for.”

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
“The world hid its head in the sands of convention, so that by seeing nothing it might avoid Truth.”

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
“The Heart is a lonely hunter with only one desire! To find some lasting comfort in the arms of another’s fire.”

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
“We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.”

House of Incest by Anaïs Nin
“If only we could all escape from this house of incest, where we only love ourselves in the other, if only I could save you all from yourselves.”

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

Good Morning, Midnight is by Jean Rhys
“A room is a place where you hide from the wolves outside and that’s all any room is.”

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
A Strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow.”

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
“I wonder why no-one has noticed I am dead and taken the trouble to bury me.”

Sources: Wikipedia, GoodReads