For a long time I couldn’t figure out why the books with “Whoever’s” Wife or Daughter as the title rubbed me the wrong way. I knew that I didn’t like them, but I didn’t know why. The realization was gradual, but I feel like I now fully understand my issue with these books.
The problem is the possession. The “This-Man’s” Wife or Daughter. Like she does not exist without that relationship. She is defined by what some male relation does for a living. She is not her own person.
Many of these books have a good premise. Many of them feature a wife or daughter who is the real hero of the story. I can understand why an author or publisher might chose that title. Maybe she is breaking free of His shadow or secretly responsible for all of His accomplishments. However, there are other, better options. She Has a Name!
While there are legions of books with “So-And-So’s” Wife or Daughter as the title, the opposite is not true. I have been hard pressed to find books with “Some-Lady’s” Husband or Son as the title. I guess men aren’t usually defined by their women, weird.
Here are the books with the best opportunity to be re-christened. They feature strong female lead characters who are their own people, with their own lives and accomplishments. I have included my corrected title suggestions. Please comment below with your own ideas!
Alchemist’s Daughter by Katherine McMahon - Raised by her father in near isolation in the English countryside, Emilie Selden is trained as a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. When Emilie against her father's wishes experiences the passion of first love, she is banished to London. Corrected Title: The Alchemist’s Banishment
Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin - When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. Corrected Title: The Glider Pilot
Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood - When Emily Warren Roebling marries 'Wash' Roebling a lifetime of family fun and happiness seems within her grasp. But then Wash accepts the position as Chief Engineer on the Brooklyn Bridge, it changes both of their lives forever. Wash convinces Emily to be his messenger to the site. Little by little, Emily finds herself taking over the project-with no formal training. Emily throws herself into building the bridge but faces suspicion and disparagement at every turn as she supervises dangerous construction sites and argues for the safety of the bridge amongst Manhattan's male elite. Corrected Title: Emily’s Bridge
Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch - Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son. A drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. Convinced she is innocent, Magdalena races against the clock to find the true killer. Corrected Title: Magdalena in the Time of Witches
Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani –Enza's family faces disaster and she, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future. Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan. A portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk. Corrected Title: The Seamstress
Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman - When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw. Zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants. Corrected Title: Antonina’s Zoo While I was writing this post, it made me realize how pissed I would be if someone wrote a book about me and gave it one of these titles. FYI, it would be “The Contractor’s Wife”, gag. So, just in case, my biography is to be called “Bossy Librarian” (obviously), because I am Bossy and a Librarian. What is your biography title? Comment below: