5 Best Books … with a Female Protagonist

5 Best BooksCassandra of Indie Reader Houston is running the meme: “5 Best Books”. Every week, a different topic is suggested by Cassandra and participants list what they think are the 5 best book for that topic. Click HERE to see the topics for the next few weeks.

This week, the topic is 5 best books with a female protagonist. You know there was a time when I almost only read books by women writers? Most of those books had female protagonists. But there are also male authors that write about a female protagonist…

And the problem is, many of the 5-best-books from the last few weeks also had a female protagonist. But I’ll try not to use the same books twice. So, I could have mentioned these great books, with a female protagonist: Under the Skin (Michel Faber) – … set in a foreign country, The Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella) –  …made me laugh, The Wife’s Tale (Lori Lanssens) – …I did not want to end, and Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (Peter Høeg) – …with a mystery to solve.

Here are some more 5 Best Books with a female protagonist:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn StockettNot just one female protagonist, but three!

This story takes place in the 1960s in Mississippi, with two black helps working for two different white women. Another young white woman journalist wants to write a book about what their life is like.

But segregation rules that they cannot meet up easily. Still, the book gets written and causes a lot of upheaval in the small town.

A Sweet Obscurity by Patrick Gale

A Sweet Obscurity by Patrick Gale

When Eliza’s mother falls ill (and later dies), Eliza and her niece Dido (who lives with Eliza as her mother died years ago) go to see her in Cornwall, where Eliza and her sister grew up.

They decide to stay for a while. Eliza falls in love with a local farmer and Dido finds out things about herself and her real mother that no girl would want to know.


A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

A couple, Howard and Alice, move from the city to rural America with their small daughters but are viewed with suspicion by the people in their small town. When the neighbour’s 2-year old daughter drowns in the couple’s pond while under Alice’s care, things turn really badly.

Alice’s life is shattered when she is also accused of sexually abusing another child. The things that happen in the book are really quite unpleasant, but I liked Alice, and wanted things to go well for her.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster of 25 who goes to parties just to chaperone her younger step-sisters. She is not expected to find a man for herself. But she gets involved with werewolves and vampires and before you know it, has become a detective on an investigation.

She crosses paths with Lord Maccon, a very important werewolf. It’s such a pity they can’t stand each other!

There is a kidnapping, some really gory experiments, a gay vampire, a love interest, a romance, and lots more.

The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley

The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley

Freya lives in Winnipeg but her family originally comes from Iceland. She has very little family left in America and when she hears that her aunt Birdie had an illegitimate child, she wants to find her.

During the story we learn more about the family and its secrets and eventually Freya goes to Iceland, where she meets people that knew her family.


What are your favorite female protagonists?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

29 Responses to 5 Best Books … with a Female Protagonist

  1. Cindy says:

    Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet come to mind 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Cindy, well, I never considered the oldies, somehow!

    • Absolutely. How could anyone do a list without an Austen heroine – and Elizabeth has to be the pick.

      Jane Eyre is good too … must try to think.

      BEST books doesn’t mean BEST protagonist does it? I think another Best book with a female protagonist has to be Beloved by Morrison.

      • Leeswammes says:

        No, that’s right, whisperunggums, it was about the books, rather than the protagonists. I haven’t read Beloved so I can’t say. But it’s only my list to read.

  2. Yep – the ladies in The Help and Alexia Tarrabotti! Love ’em!

    I would also nominated Katniss from The Hunger Games.

  3. Trish says:

    I remember Map of the World being pretty tragic. Actually can’t really remember much about the book other than how sad it made me feel. And I agree with The Help. Three fabulous protagonists! I think Atwood also writes great female protagonists–very complex!

  4. Tes says:

    Oh I’ve just read The Help and I just love those ladies 🙂

  5. I’m happy to see The Tricking of Freya on your list. This is a great novel that doesn’t get as much press as it deserves.

    I keep saying I’m going to participate in a few of these top 5’s… I need to look at the list of upcoming topics. 🙂

  6. Leslie says:

    It would be difficult for me to decide on just five. Except for The Help these are some new books for me to look for.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Leslie, indeed! There are so many great books. But I thought I’ll do a few that not many people know. Maybe something for on the (BIG) wish list! 🙂

  7. Suzanne says:

    I must read the The Tricking of Freya soon. Winnipeg is my hometown!

  8. Lucybird says:

    I made a post about this for International Women’s Day. My 5 were Lyra from His Dark Materials, Minny from The Help, Ma from Room, Thursday from the Thursday Next Series, and Ana from My Sister’s Keeper.

  9. Cassandra says:

    I find I’m very intrigued by Soulless. I’m not familiar with the others, either, so I’ll have to check them all out.

    Here’s a link to my list: http://indiereaderhouston.com/blog/archives/1679

  10. I liked The Tricking of Freya a lot — Freya is a great protagonist!

  11. Trisha says:

    I love it that you included Soulless! That should definitely have made my list too. Great series and truly awesome lady protagonist.

  12. MarthaE says:

    Souless is a book I want to read! Let’s see.. some fav female protagonists. Right now I am really enjoying Eve Dallas in the In Depth series by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts).
    Last year I read two books by Pauline Baird Jones and loved the female protagonists in The Key and Girl Gone Nova. Soon I will do those reviews! Oh yes – I also loved Yelena from the Study books by Maria V. Snyder.

    • Leeswammes says:

      MarthaE, thanks for popping by. You seem to read quite different books from me, I haven’t read any of the books you mention. I’ll keep an eye out for them!

  13. Jennifer says:

    Two of my favorite female protagonists are Lyra from Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and Katnis Everdeen from The Hunger Games. These books are young adult, but the young women in them are strong (and strong-willed) and very fierce. I’ve got a novel coming out next year–The Year of the Gadfly–and they’ve been huge inspirations for my protagonist, the intrepid teenage journalist Iris Dupont.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. I agree, Katnis is a very strong character. I loved the Hunger Games series. Good luck with your own novel!

  14. Jean says:

    Without a doubt the best female protagonist is Joan from SPA by B.F. Camis – There simply has never been a female character like this – ever. She represents the ultimate dark side of survival while remaining a sympathetic character.

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