You know how when you read books next to each other, you can't help but find the running theme?
Book 1: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. 19th century Chinese women in a time when breaking & permanently deforming your six year old daughter's feet was considered a social necessity. Betrothals, traditions, obligations. Their lives are pretty awful, but at the same time I got this weird feeling similar to when I read Memoirs of a Geisha, like the romance and imagery sort of glorifies this painfully submissive culture. The stories are kind of about how a woman's inner strength shines through her trials no matter what! So let's picture her sitting demurely, working on her embroidery and determining her worth by producing sons, might as well, right? Yeah I know I'm reading too much into it, historical fiction is just supposed to be fun and educational, I just didn't really love this book.
Book 2: The Nanny Diaries by McLaughlin and Kraus. 21st century American woman is slave labor for a ridiculously rich but intolerant and downright evil family... the 1%! I picked it up because I thought it'd be light and funny and chick-litty, which I figured I'd need after reading about chinese women's husbands beating them up. And the book was funny, but it was also incredibly depressing, because this college girl is taking care of this four year old whose parents just think he's an accessory, or at least an inconvenience, and all the little kid wants is to have, like, a meal with his father someday. And the whole thing ends on a really empty note, the nanny is just sort of resolute and happy to be through with the experience and I guess that was supposed to help me be through with the book?
Both books were about women being treated like crap... Lifetime movies! Both books had their main characters being treated like crap by other women. Both books were loaded with examples of why classism hurts everyone. I'd just hoped at least one of them would be a bit uplifting! Oh well, I'm going back to non-fiction for a while now.