As we’ve been discovering in our biweekly HER STORY column (which brings to life the forgotten stories of some of the most bold and inspiring women in history), there are countless fascinating stories about women still left uncovered. October is women’s history month in Canada, so there’s no better time than now to take a look back at the women and girls from our past who have made their mark on history.
So, to help you add a little herstory to your life this month, we’ve put together a list of what to read, watch, and listen to, all about women in history.
WHAT TO READ
This season’s new releases include plenty of books that will bring you back in time, and teach you a thing or two about women’s experiences of the past. If you’re looking for something instantly engrossing, try Looking for Jane, a debut historical fiction novel by Canadian author Heather Marshall. It tells the interwoven stories of three women across generations, who are connected by a letter that got lost in the mail, a boarding home for unwed mothers, and an underground abortion network in Toronto. It is a heartbreaking and poignant book that gets you thinking about motherhood in all its complexities, and ultimately, about the right to choose. (Buy it here.)
Meanwhile, the latest novel from bestselling author Genevieve Graham, Bluebird: A Novel, tells the dual-timeline story of a passionate museum curator in the present day, who is investigating a legendary family of bootleggers, and the love story between a nursing sister and a corporal injured during the Great War and their experience navigating the post-war city of Windsor in the grip of Prohibition. (Buy it here.)
WHAT TO WATCH
If there’s a Bridgerton-sized hole in your life right now and you’re looking for another period drama to get addicted to, look no further: try The Serpent Queen, a new STARZ original about the real-life story of Catherine de Medici. Based on a well-researched biography by scholar Leonie Frieda, it tells the story of the Italian orphan’s marriage to the French heir, the heartbreak of discovering he was in love with another woman, and explores the origin of her legendary reputation as the serpent queen of poison and the dark arts. (Watch it on CRAVE.)
If you’re looking for something for movie night, watch Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis in The Woman King, an action-packed film inspired by true events that tells the story of the Agojie, the 19th-century female warriors that protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey. (Watch the trailer here and catch it in a theatre near you now.)
WHAT TO LISTEN TO
One of my personal favourite ways to consume historical stories is through podcasts; you can learn something new all while doing dishes or driving home from work. The History Chicks is a great place to start if you’re looking for a conversational, informative, and entertaining podcast to try. This biweekly podcast walks listeners through a biographical overview of a different woman in history each episode. And with the impressive number of 212 episodes, they have covered such a wide range of subjects, across a wide range of geographical locations and time periods, that you’d be sure to find a topic that intrigues you. (Listen on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.)
My latest podcast discovery is Fierce: Stories of Women Who Changed the World from iHeart Radio and Tribecca Studios. These episodes are more artfully produced than the podcasts I’m used to listening to, complete with immersive sound effects and engrossing audio storytelling. Each episode sheds light on a fascinating and undervalued historical figure, as well as an interview with a modern-day woman who is standing on the shoulders of that historical figure’s legacy. (Listen on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.)