Thursday, September 20, 2007

Daughters and Wives

In discussion with a writing friend about good books to read, we were suddenly struck by how many authors had used daughters and wives as terms of possession in their titles eg:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Storyteller's Daughter
The Time Traveller's Wife
The Gravedigger's Daughter
The Bonesetter's Daughter
The Rector's Wife
The Pilot's Wife

An admittedly quick search on reveals no husbands or sons used in the same way, although there is the film of Steptoe and Son, and the intriguingly entitled How to Kill Your Husband and Other Household Hints by Kathy Lette.

This trend worries me now I've noticed it, although I'm interested in how all of the above are written by women. But more worrying for me is the fact that, without thinking too much about it, I automatically presumed the professions in the titles to be held by men. Reminds me of that old puzzle:

A father and son have a terrible car accident and the father is killed. When the son is taken into the hospital, the surgeon immediately says, 'I can't operate on him. He is my son.' Who is the surgeon?


womagwriter said...

Do you think it is because more women read books, and we are more likely to be enticed by a book where it is obvious that the main character is a woman - a wife or daughter? Also because the relationship is spelled out in the title, we also know without even reading the blurb that relationships are important in the novel. Another thing women typically look for in their book choices.

Incidently the time traveller, rector and pilot would have to be men to have a wife, unless these are lesbian novels!

Alex said...

Is the surgeon his step-dad?

Sarah said...

Yes maybe, w'writer - but we're still reading with the expectation that the main character - the daughter/wife - is going to be defined by someone else's profession, aren't we? Even if the book is about them breaking out of it.

Alex said...

His adopted father maybe?