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Bringing Down the House: A library list inspired by A Doll’s House, Part 2

Connan Morrissey as Nora and Tony Campisi as Torvald in
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s A Doll’s House, Part 2

Nora famously slammed the door on her marriage, leaving her family behind in Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 revolutionary classic, but what happened to the iconic heroine next? In this not-so-classic, completely unauthorized comedy, she returns fifteen years later a changed woman. Now a famous and controversial author, Nora makes a simple request that threatens to bring down the house….

Crackling with smart, sophisticated wit, A Doll’s House, Part 2 gives new voice to its predecessor’s themes of marriage, fidelity, and personal independence. Check out more stories that follow these same themes at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

FICTION

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Middlesteins comes a wickedly funny novel about a thirty-nine-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention as she seeks connection.​

Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid⎯she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh⎯that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.

Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Set in Nigeria, Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures⎯Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time⎯until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does⎯but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family. This highly celebrated, unforgettable first novel by Ayobami Adebayo (“A bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit.”⎯The Guardian), shortlisted for the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage-⎯and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.

NONFICTION & MEMOIR

All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America, this “singularly triumphant work” ( Los Angeles Times ) by Rebecca Traister “the most brilliant voice on feminism in the country” (Anne Lamott) is “sure to be vigorously discussed” (Booklist, starred review). All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism. Exhaustively researched, brilliantly balanced, and told with Traister’s signature wit and insight, this book should be shelved alongside Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed .

Are You My Mother?  By Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: a voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. Are You My Mother is a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother–to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

MOVIES

9 to 5

Three female office workers combine forces to take revenge on their deceitful, egotistical, and thoroughly chauvinistic boss.

I Will Follow

Maye is a success. Hot career. Hot boyfriend. But when her world is turned upside down by tragedy, she must struggle to keep her balance. I Will Follow chronicles a day in the life of a woman at a crossroads, and the twelve people who help her move forward into a brave, new world.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.

Mustang

It’s the beginning of the summer. In a village in the north of Turkey, Lale and her four sisters come home from school, innocently playing with boys. The supposed debauchery of their games causes a scandal with unintended consequences. The family home slowly turns into a prison, classes on housework and cooking replace school, and marriages begin to be arranged.

Desperately Seeking Susan

A bored New Jersey housewife who fantasizes about the ads in the personal section of the newspaper want ads shows up at a rendezvous between two lovers. She gets bumped on the head, which leads to a case of amnesia and opens the door to intrigue and love.

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