Alumnae Books of 2014

The Female Gaze Sweetening the PillSweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control

Zero Books
While acknowledging the role hormonal contracep-tives have played in the advancement of women’s rights, Holly Grigg-Spall, in her investigative book, asks the question, “Why can’t we criticize the Pill?” Citing scientific studies, interviews, and case histories, the author takes a look at the Pill’s negative side effects, including depression, anxiety, paranoia, rage, and panic attacks and advocates for better contraceptive education for women.

Holly Grigg-Spall attended Mount Holyoke as a foreign fellow during the 2003–04 academic year and in her acknowledgements thanks the College for “planting a seed in [her] mind.” She has written for Easy Living, the Washington Post, and the UK Independent, among other publications.


The Female Gaze The Peerless FourThe Peerless Four: A Novel

Set in 1928, the year female athletes were permitted to compete in Olympic track and field events for the first time, this novel tells the story of a Canadian women’s track team. Nicknamed the “Peerless Four,” the athletes— accompanied by their chaperone, who narrates the book—endure mounting pressure as they must overcome unexpected conflicts and are forced to face their fears knowing that the future of female Olympic athletes may depend on their performance.

Victoria Smith Patterson ’92 is the author of the novel The Vacant Paradise and Drift, a collection of interlinked short stories. She teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Antioch University and is visiting assistant professor at UC Riverside.


The Female Gaze The Language InsideThe Language Inside

Written in verse, this young adult novel is told from the point of view of Emma Karas, an American teenager raised in Japan. Returning to the states so that her mother can undergo cancer treatment, Emma has trouble adjusting to her new life.

At her grandmother’s urging, she takes a volunteer job at a long-term-care facility, where she helps a patient with locked-in syndrome write down her poems and becomes close to a fellow volunteer. After finally finding a place for herself in the States, when it comes time to decide whether to stay or return to Japan, Emma is faced with a painful choice.

Holly A. Thompson ’81 has written or edited four other books for children and adults, and her essays and short stories have been widely published. She teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University in Japan.

Female Gaze MeeropolA Male President for Mount Holyoke College

During her thirty-six-year tenure, President Mary Emma Woolley transformed Mount Holyoke into an elite women’s college led almost exclusively by a female administration and faculty. Four years before her planned retirement, a group of male trustees began the search for her successor, and ultimately convinced the majority of the trustees to offer the presidency to Roswell Ham, an associate professor of English at Yale University. Meeropol offers a historical look at the controversy surrounding Ham’s appointment as the first male president of the College. Watch a video in which Ann Karus Meeropol discusses the book.

Ann Karus Meeropol holds a doctorate in the history of higher education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is a former LITS Scholar-in-Residence at Mount Holyoke.

Female Gaze MuhlkeManresa: An Edible Reflection

Random House
A cookbook that leads readers into the kitchen with David Kinch, a well-known West Coast chef and owner of the Los Gatos, California, restaurant Manresa. Through stories, photographs, and more than 300 recipes, the authors share the restaurant’s favorite dishes and demonstrate Kinch’s food philosophy and his Northern California culinary influences.

Christine Muhlke ’92, a former food editor and columnist for the New York Times, is the executive editor of Bon Appétit and coauthor of On the Line: Inside the World of Le Bernardin.



Female Gaze HerbeckWandering Women in French Film & Literature

Palgrave Macmillan
This academic text is a study of narrative drift, a term Devereux Herbeck uses to refer to the phenomenon of a narrator’s voice becoming unreliable. The author explores works featuring female narrators whose authority may be questioned because of their unconventional voices. Through analysis of twentieth-century French film and literature and combining feminist theories and structural narratology, Devereux Herbeck illustrates the ways in which this narrative drift can force a story in new, unexpected directions.

Mariah Devereux Herbeck ’97 is an associate professor of French at Boise State University.

FemGaze_WentworthNew and Selected Poems

University of South Carolina Press
This “best of” volume features more than fifty poems from three previous collections as well as twenty-eight new poems. In prose, poetry, sonnets, and elegies Wentworth explores themes including turning to nature as a site of reflection and healing and the power of familial bonds.

Marjory Wentworth ’80, South Carolina poet laureate and five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, teaches at the Art Institute of Charleston and is the president and cofounder of the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts.



FemGaze_DemasReturning to Shore

In this young-adult novel, fifteen-year-old Clare is forced to spend the summer with her father—a man she hasn’t seen since she was three and whom she soon learns is known as the town crazy person. As her father opens up to her and she spends more time in his small town on Cape Cod, Clare’s summer becomes less of an exile and more of a return.

Corinne Demas is the award-winning author of more than thirty books, including five novels, two story collections, a memoir, a poetry collection, and numerous books for children. She is an English professor at Mount Holyoke and fiction editor at The Massachusetts Review.


FemGaze_KupersmithThe Frangipani Hotel

Spiegel & Grau
In nine thematically linked stories—some written during her time as an undergraduate—Kupersmith expands on traditional Vietnamese ghost stories, updating them to reflect the contemporary ghosts of the Vietnam War.

Violet Kupersmith ’11 received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and research in the Mekong Delta. She grew up outside of Philadelphia, the daughter of an American father and Vietnamese mother. A recent MacDowell Colony fellow, she is working on her first novel.



FemGaze_ChaudhuriBeloved Strangers

A memoir of carving out one’s place in the world, Beloved Strangers is Chaudhuri’s account of growing up in Dhaka, Bangladesh—where home was not an especially happy place—and then moving to the United States to attend Mount Holyoke at the age of eighteen. A meditation on why people leave their homes and why they sometimes find it difficult to return, Chaudhuri tells her story of straddling two cultures while trying to find a place to belong.

Maria Chaudhuri ’99 holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. Her essays and short stories have been published in various collections, journals, and literary magazines. She lives in Hong Kong. This is her first book.


JenJackGiesekingThe People, Place, and Space Reader

The People, Place, and Space Reader brings together scholarly writings from a variety of fields to make sense of the ways we shape and inhabit our world. With a companion website,, it is a resource for students of urban studies, geography, design, and sociology, and for anyone with an interest in the environment.

Jen Jack Gieseking ’99 is a cultural geographer and postdoctoral fellow in digital and computational studies at Bowdoin College. S/he is writing her second book, Queer New York: Constellating Geographies of Lesbians’ and Queer Women’s In/Justice in New York City, 1983-2008, which is the first lesbian and queer history of the city.




A coming-of-age novel for young adults about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that resulted in her classmate Emma’s death—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy.

Amanda Maciel ’00 has worked in book publishing since graduating from Mount Holyoke College and is currently a senior editor at Scholastic. Tease is her first novel and was named an IndieBound Indie Next List winner.



LisaCachSlave Girl

Simon and Schuster
The first volume in 1,001 Erotic Nights, a trilogy of novellas that follows Nimia, a slave girl at the end of the Western Roman Empire. In Slave Girl, Nimia falls in love with the barbarian prince Clovis, future king of the Franks and founder of France. The story continues in Barbarian’s Concubine and concludes with Siren of Gaul.

Lisa Cach ’89 is a national bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including Have Glass Slippers, Will Travel. Her novel Dating Without Novocaine was named one of Waldenbooks’ “Best Books of 2002,” and she is a two-time finalist for the RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America.



SusanRiegerThe Divorce Papers

Crown Publishing Group
When her firm’s divorce attorneys are unavailable, criminal law associate Sophie Diehl finds herself handling an intake interview for the daughter of one of its biggest clients, who insists Sophie go on to represent her. This modern-day epistolary novel tells the story of a contentious divorce entirely through emails, letters, memoranda, New Year’s cards, newspaper articles, interviews, cases, and laws.

Susan Rieger ’68 was trained as a lawyer and has been a teacher of law, a college dean at Yale, an associate professor at Columbia, and a freelance journalist. The Divorce Papers is her first novel.


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