5 Bestsellers By Women That Captured The 1970s And Resonate Today

by J.S. Hood

5 bestsellers by women catapulted into the public consciousness.

5 Bestsellers by Women that Captured the 1970s

The 1970s Were Not For The Faint Of Heart

In the vibrant literary landscape of the 1970s, many authors made an indelible mark that continues to resonate today. From groundbreaking narratives to timeless classics, this era witnessed a surge of captivating works by talented and fearless writers. In this blog post, LitStack explores five bestselling books by five women authors who are not always on other lists but that we believe wrote novels that captured something of the spirit and essence and excitement of the 1970s, and, of course, became an unforgettable part of the 1970s for the readers. 

Whether you’re a writer seeking inspiration, a literary enthusiast, or just curious about the literary treasures from the 1970s. Look no further! We embark on an exciting adventure into five unforgettable novels that, for better or worse, defined an entire era. Read on as we shine a spotlight on five incredible novels from women authors who knowingly or by happenstance, captured the spirit of that time and discover how their words continue to resonate today.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a novel by Judith Rossner, published in 1975. It is based on the true story of Roseann Quinn, a young woman who was murdered by a man she met in a bar in 1973.

The novel tells the story of Theresa Dunn, a young schoolteacher who leads a double life. During the day, she is a responsible and respected member of the community. But at night, she frequents singles bars and engages in casual sexual encounters.

Theresa is drawn to these encounters because she is searching for something she cannot find in her everyday life: excitement, passion, and a sense of connection. But her search for Mr. Goodbar ultimately leads to her death.

bestsellers by women Looking for Mr. Goodbar Judith Rossner

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner is a complex and disturbing novel that explores the themes of sexuality, loneliness, and violence. It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of seeking fulfillment in the wrong places.

The novel was adapted into a film in 1977, starring Diane Keaton. The film was a critical and commercial success, and it helped to make the novel even more well-known.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar was published at a time when the women’s movement was gaining momentum, and traditional gender roles were being challenged. Theresa Dunn is a young, independent woman who is not afraid to express her sexuality. She is also a successful professional, and she is not afraid to stand up for herself. 

Theresa is murdered by a man she meets in a bar. The fact that the reader knows Theresa’s fate from page one creates a sense of doom akin to the growing sense of cynicism and disillusionment that had taken hold of the public at the time. Theresa is a product of her time, unsettled, unevenly shaped by the social and political upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. She is distrustful of authority, and not sure what to believe in.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner is a complex and disturbing novel that reflects these social and political realities of the time. It is a novel that is still relevant today, and it continues to challenge readers to think about the issues of sexuality, violence, and disillusionment.

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Fear of Flying is a novel by Erica Jong, published in 1973. It became controversial for its portrayal of female sexuality and figured in the development of second-wave feminism.

The novel is written in the first person, narrated by its protagonist, Isadora Wing, a 29-year-old poet who has published two books of poetry. On a trip to Vienna with her second husband, Isadora decides to indulge her sexual fantasies with another man.

The novel is about Isadora’s journey to self-discovery and sexual liberation. She is a complex and contradictory character, and she struggles to reconcile her traditional values with her modern desires. She is also afraid of flying, both literally and metaphorically. She is afraid of letting go and letting herself be free.

Fear of Flying is a groundbreaking novel that challenged many of the sexual and social norms of the time. It is a novel that is still relevant today, and it continues to challenge readers to think about the issues of sexuality, gender roles, and self-discovery.

In addition to the theme of female sexuality, the novel also explores other themes such as the nature of marriage, the relationship between art and life, and the search for meaning and purpose in life.

bestsellers by women fear of flying by erica jong

The sociological and political aspects reflected in Fear of Flying are complex and multifaceted. The novel was published in 1973, during a time of great social and political change in the United States. The novel reflects the social and political atmosphere of the time in a number of ways. First, it explores the changing role of women in society. Isadora Wing is a young, independent woman who is not afraid to express her sexuality. She is also a successful poet, and she is not afraid to stand up for herself. Isadora is a sexually liberated woman, but she also struggles with guilt and shame about her desires. The novel is a reminder of the double standards that women face in society.

The novel also explores other sociological and political aspects, such as the nature of marriage, the relationship between art and life, and the search for meaning and purpose in life.

The reaction of the women’s movement to the novel Fear of Flying was mixed. Some feminists embraced the novel as a groundbreaking work of feminist literature, while others criticized it for being vulgar and exploitative.

Those who embraced the novel praised Jong for her honest and unflinching portrayal of female sexuality. They argued that the novel was a valuable contribution to the feminist movement because it helped to break down taboos and encourage women to embrace their sexuality.

Those who criticized the novel argued that it was misogynistic and that it objectified women. They also argued that the novel promoted unrealistic expectations of female sexuality.

Despite the mixed reaction, Fear of Flying is widely considered to be a classic of feminist literature. It is a novel that helped to shape the feminist movement and to change the way that women are seen in society.

Here are some specific examples of the reactions of feminists to the novel:

* Gloria Steinem, a prominent feminist leader, wrote that Fear of Flying was “a breakthrough book for women” and that it “helped to change the way we think about sex and sexuality.”

* Betty Friedan, another prominent feminist leader, was more critical of the novel. She wrote that it was “a book about male fantasies” and that it “exploited women.”

* Kate Millett, a feminist author and activist, wrote that the novel was “a brilliant and important book” and that it was “a must-read for all women.”

* Susan Sontag, a feminist author and critic, wrote that the novel was “a work of art” and that it was “one of the most important novels of the decade.”

The mixed reaction to Fear of Flying reflects the diversity of the feminist movement and the different perspectives that feminists had on issues such as sexuality and gender roles. The novel is a reminder that the feminist movement was not a monolithic entity, but rather a diverse group of women with a wide range of views.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Thorn Birds is a 1977 novel by Australian author Colleen McCullough. It is a historical romance novel set in Australia, spanning the years 1915 to 1969. The novel tells the story of Meggie Cleary, a young woman who falls in love with a Catholic priest named Ralph de Bricassart.

The novel is set on Drogheda, a sheep station in the Australian Outback. Meggie is the only daughter of the Cleary family, and she is raised on the station. Ralph is a young priest who is sent to Drogheda to serve as the parish priest.

Meggie and Ralph develop a close friendship, which eventually turns into love. However, their love is forbidden, as Ralph is a priest and Meggie is a young Catholic woman. Despite their best efforts, Meggie and Ralph cannot deny their feelings for each other.

The novel follows Meggie and Ralph as they struggle to reconcile their love with their religious beliefs. They are both deeply religious people, and they do not want to sin. However, their love is too strong to be denied.

The Thorn Birds is a beautifully written novel that explores the themes of love, loss, and faith. It is a powerful and moving story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

The novel is also notable for its exploration of the Catholic faith. McCullough was raised Catholic, and she wrote about the faith with both love and honesty. She does not shy away from the challenges and contradictions of the faith, but she also shows the beauty and power of religion.

bestsellers by women the thorn birds by colleen mccullough

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is a complex and challenging novel, but it is also a rewarding one. It is a novel that will make you think about love, loss, faith, and the meaning of life. Meggie is a complex and believable character. She is strong and independent, but she is also vulnerable and insecure. Ralph is also a complex and believable character. He is intelligent and compassionate, but he is also flawed and human. McCullough brings the setting to life with her vivid descriptions. The Outback is a harsh and unforgiving land, but it is also a beautiful and majestic place.

One of the most significant sociological changes of the 1970s was the rise of the women’s movement. This is reflected in the character of Meggie Cleary, who is a strong and independent woman. She is not afraid to challenge the status quo, and she is determined to live her life on her own terms. 

Another important sociological change of the 1970s was the decline in religious authority. This is reflected in the novel’s exploration of the Catholic faith. Meggie and Ralph are both deeply religious people, but they are also willing to question the teachings of the Church.

The 1970s was also a time of great political change in Australia. The Vietnam War was still ongoing, and there was a growing sense of disillusionment with the government. This is reflected in the novel’s portrayal of the Australian government. Meggie’s father, Paddy Cleary, is a World War I veteran who is deeply critical of the government’s decision to send Australian troops to Vietnam.

In addition to the sociological and political changes of the 1970s, *The Thorn Birds* also reflects the changing attitudes towards sexuality in Australia. Meggie and Ralph’s relationship is considered to be taboo, but they are ultimately able to overcome the obstacles in their way and find happiness together.

Overall, The Thorn Birds is a novel that is deeply rooted in the social and political context of the 1970s. It is a novel that explores the themes of love, loss, faith, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a novel that is still relevant today, and it continues to resonate with readers around the world.

Interview With The Vampire By Anne Rice (1976)

The literary kingdom ruled by vampires may sound like a fantastical concept straight out of an Anne Rice novel, but it is also a testament to the remarkable success achieved by one woman: Anne Rice herself. Her reign over this mythical realm began in 1976 with Interview with the Vampire, launching not only a legendary series but also an entire publishing empire. However, do not be deceived; while blood-sucking beings may have been her initial claim to fame, there is much more that lies beneath the surface of Anne Rice’s prolific pen. 

Interview with the Vampire is a novel by Anne Rice, published in 1976. It is the first book in The Vampire Chronicles series, and it tells the story of Louis de Pointe du Lac, a young man who is turned into a vampire by Lestat de Lioncourt in 1791.

The novel is framed as an interview between Louis and a young reporter named Daniel Molloy. Louis tells Daniel his story, beginning with his life as a human and his transformation into a vampire. He then describes his relationship with Lestat and their creation of a new vampire, Claudia.

Interview with the Vampire is a complex and disturbing novel that explores the nature of good and evil, the relationship between life and death, and the power of love. It is also a novel about the loneliness and isolation of being a vampire. The nature of good and evil: Louis is a vampire who struggles to maintain his humanity. He is horrified by the things that he does, but he is also addicted to the power and the immortality that come with being a vampire. He also has to come to terms with the fact that he is now a monster.

bestsellers by women interview with the vampire anne rice

The novel reflects the social and political climate of the time in which it was written. The 1970s was a time of great social and political change in the United States. The Vietnam War was still ongoing, and there was a growing sense of disillusionment with the government. This disillusionment is reflected in the novel’s portrayal of authority figures. Louis and Lestat both have negative experiences with authority figures, such as the Church and the government. This leads them to distrust authority and to take matters into their own hands.

The novel also reflects the changing attitudes towards sexuality in the 1970s. Louis and Lestat’s relationship is considered to be taboo, but at the time the book was released, it was incredibly attractive and considered highly sexually charged, a fact that may have contributed to the book’s bestselling status.

Interview with the Vampire is a rewarding novel that explores a variety of sociological and political themes. It is a novel that is still relevant today, and it continues to resonate with readers around the world.

That Was Then, This Is Now By S.E. Hinton (1971)

That Was Then, This Is Now is a 1971 young adult novel by S. E. Hinton. It tells the story of two best friends, Bryon Douglas and Mark Jennings, as they navigate the challenges of growing up and growing apart. But for those who read it in the 1970s along with The Outsiders, these books defined who you were as a teenager, how you could be a rebel, in a decade that was post-summer of love, after all the ideals had been abandoned and the rebel leaders had been slain.

The novel is set in the 1960s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and follows Bryon and Mark as they deal with issues such as poverty, gang violence, and family problems. The novel is also a coming-of-age story, as Bryon and Mark learn to make their own choices and face the consequences of their actions.

That Was Then, This Is Now was a critical and commercial success when it was first published. It was praised for its realistic portrayal of teenage life and its honest exploration of difficult topics. It is a story about friendship, betrayal, and the search for identity. It was set in the 1960s but defined 1970s teenage rebels who read the book.

bestsellers by women that was then this is now s.e. hinton

The novel is set in a working-class neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and many of the characters struggle to make ends meet. This reflects the widespread poverty and economic inequality that existed in the United States in the 1970s. Bryon and Mark, the two main characters in the novel, are members of a gang called the Greasers. Gang violence was a major problem in many American cities in the 1970s. Also, the Vietnam War was a major issue in the United States in the 1970s. The war is mentioned in the novel, and it has a significant impact on Bryon’s life.

In addition to these specific political and sociological aspects, the novel also reflects the overall mood of the 1970s, which was a time of great social and political upheaval. The characters in the novel are struggling to find their place in a world that is changing rapidly. They are also struggling to deal with the challenges of growing up and becoming adults.

That Was Then, This Is Now is a classic young adult novel that continues to resonate with readers today. It is a story about friendship, betrayal, and the search for identity. It is also a story that reflects the political and sociological realities of the 1970s.

A Transformative Decade Of Books Whose Effects Are Still Being Felt

The 1970s was a transformative decade for women authors as they fearlessly pushed boundaries and challenged societal norms through their bestselling novels. The above five novels were ones that affected me when I read them in the 1970s and they have as much or more to say now. There are also other novels from that decade I’ve written about before

There are also many others that we haven’t even mentioned yet. From Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale to Alice Walker’s exploration of race and gender in The Color Purple, these and many other talented writers from the 1970s left an indelible mark on literature. Their works continue to resonate with readers today, reminding us of the power of storytelling and the importance of fearless voices. 

As we move forward, let us celebrate and support fearless authors, like these five women authors whose works continue to shape and influence the literary landscape, inspiring generations to come. May their stories continue to be heard and cherished for years to come.

~J.S. Hood

Other LitStack Resources

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