Novels under 200 pages by women writers list is for those who want to read one more book at the end of each month or the readers who travel a lot. I’ve created novels under 150 pages and novels under 100 pages before, and with this list of novels under 200 pages, there’ll be no shortage of shorter books to read for a long time.
I tried to involve writers from various countries in novels under 200 pages list so that we can discover new worlds and maybe new favourite women authors. I hope you’ll find many books to your liking. Enjoy!
Novels Under 200 Pages
Fever Dream – Samanta Schweblin
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.
Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel. A gem among novels under 200 pages.
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether. One from Korea among novels under 200 pages.
The Vet’s Daughter – Barbara Comyns
Growing up in Edwardian south London, Alice Rowlands longs for romance and excitement, for a release from a life that is dreary, restrictive and lonely. Her father, a vet, is harsh and domineering; his new girlfriend brash and lascivious. Alice seeks refuge in memories and fantasies, in her rapturous longing for Nicholas, a handsome young sailor, and in the blossoming of what she perceives as her occult powers. A series of strange events unfolds that leads her, dressed in bridal white, to a scene of ecstatic triumph and disaster among the crowds on Clapham Common. The Vet’s Daughter is a uniquely vivid, witty and touching story of love and mystery.
Speedboat – Renata Adler
When members of the National Book Critics Circle were polled to see which book they would most like to see republished, they chose Speedboat—“by far.” This story of a young female newspaper reporter coming of age in New York City was originally published serially in the New Yorker; it is made out of seemingly unrelated vignettes—tart observations distilled through relentless intellect—which add up to an analysis of our brittle, urban existence. It remains as fresh as when it was first published. An interesting one among novels under 200 pages.
Sleepless Nights – Elizabeth Hardwick
In Sleepless Nights a woman looks back on her life—the parade of people, the shifting background of place—and assembles a scrapbook of memories, reflections, portraits, letters, wishes, and dreams. An inspired fusion of fact and invention, this beautifully realized, hard-bitten, lyrical book is not only Elizabeth Hardwick’s finest fiction but one of the outstanding contributions to American literature of the last fifty years.
The Optimist’s Daughter – Eudora Welty
The Optimist’s Daughter is the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.
Margaret the First – Danielle Dutton
Margaret Cavendish was the first woman to address the Royal Society and the first Englishwoman to write explicitly for publication. Wildly unconventional, she was championed by her forward-thinking husband and nicknamed ‘Mad Madge’ by her many detractors. Later, Virginia Woolf would write, ‘What a vision of loneliness and riot the thought of Margaret Cavendish brings to mind!’
Unjustly neglected by history, here Margaret is brought intimately and memorably to life, tumbling pell-mell across the pages of this exhilarating novel ― a portrait of a woman whose ambitions were centuries ahead of her time. A unique choice among novels under 200 pages.
Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss
One from Britain among novels under 200 pages. In the north of England, far from the intrusions of cities but not far from civilization, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age.
For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. They are surrounded by forests of birch and rowan; they make stew from foraged roots and hunted rabbit. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie’s father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind.
The ancient Britons built ghost walls to ward off enemy invaders, rude barricades of stakes topped with ancestral skulls. When the group builds one of their own, they find a spiritual connection to the past. What comes next but human sacrifice?
A story at once mythic and strikingly timely, Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall urges us to wonder how far we have come from the “primitive minds” of our ancestors. A gem among novels under 200 pages.
The Days of Abandonment – Elena Ferrante
Rarely have the foundations upon which our ideas of motherhood and womanhood rest been so candidly questioned. This compelling novel tells the story of one woman’s headlong descent into what she calls an “absence of sense” after being abandoned by her husband. Olga’s “days of abandonment” become a desperate, dangerous freefall into the darkest places of the soul as she roams the empty streets of a city that she has never learned to love.
When she finds herself trapped inside the four walls of her apartment in the middle of a summer heat wave, Olga is forced to confront her ghosts, the potential loss of her own identity, and the possibility that life may never return to normal again. A popular one among novels under 200 pages.
Red at the Bone – Jacqueline Woodson
Brooklyn, 2001. It is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress – the very same dress that was sewn for a different wearer, Melody’s mother, for a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody’s family – from the 1921 Tulsa race massacre to post 9/11 New York – Red at the Bone explores sexual desire, identity, class, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, as it looks at the ways in which young people must so often make fateful decisions about their lives before they have even begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be. A good one among novels under 200 pages.
This Is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar
A sci-fi among novels under 200 pages. Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
Glaciers – Alexis M Smith
Isabel lives in Portland, Oregon and works in a library, repairing damaged books. She longs to visit the destinations revealed in their pages. Her daydreams are peopled by memories from her Alaskan childhood, the glaciers that are being lost. Meanwhile, she’s just the tiniest bit lonely and lovelorn.
The object of her affection, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan who also works in the basement of the library, seems equally quiet and so perhaps it’s no surprise that their contact has been limited to only snatched moments. But today is the day that will all change. Isabel is determined to finally open up to him, to find the perfect vintage dress for this evening’s party, and to invite him along. But, of course, life rarely happens as we plan it. Set in America among novels under 200 pages.
Desperate Characters – Paula Fox
Otto and Sophie Bentwood live childless in a renovated Brooklyn brownstone. The complete works of Goethe line their bookshelf, their stainless steel kitchen is newly installed, and their Mercedes is parked outside. After Sophie is bitten on the hand while trying to feed a half-starved neighbourhood cat, a series of small and ominous disasters begin to plague their lives, revealing the faultlines and fractures in a marriage – and a society – wrenching itself apart. An interesting one among novels under 200 pages.
Winter in Sokcho – Elisa Shua Dusapin
A fascinating one among novels under 200 pages. It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.
The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an ‘authentic’ Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows – the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen. One of my faves among novels under 200 pages.
Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan
A French writer among novels under 200 pages. The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cécile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures. But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cécile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.
Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom. A modern classic among novels under 200 pages.
Goodbye, Vitamin – Rachel Khong
A popular one among novels under 200 pages. Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he’s moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father, a history professor beloved by his students, has Alzheimer’s. At Christmas, her mother begs her to stay on and help. For a year.
Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become. A timeless one among novels under 200 pages.
A Sister’s Story – Donatella Di Pietrantonio
An Italian writer among novels under 200 pages. It’s the darkest time of night. Adriana, a baby in her arms, hammers on her sister’s door. Who is she running from? What uncomfortable truth will she deliver? Like a whirlwind, Adriana breaks into her sister’s life bringing chaos and cataclysmic revelations.
Years later, the narrator gets an unexpected, urgent summons back to Pescara. She embarks on a long journey through the night, and through the folds and twists of her memory, from her and her sister’s youth, their loves and losses, their secrets and regrets. Back in Borgo Sud, the town’s fishermen’s quarter, in that impenetrable yet welcoming microcosm, she will discover what really happened, and perhaps make peace with the past. For the ones with siblings among novels under 200 pages.
Mr Darwin’s Gardener – Kristina Carlson
A postmodern Victorian novel about faith, knowledge and our inner needs. The late 1870s, the Kentish village of Downe. The villagers gather in church one rainy Sunday. Only Thomas Davies stays away. The eccentric loner, father of two and a grief-stricken widower, works as a gardener for the notorious naturalist, Charles Darwin. He shuns religion. But now Thomas needs answers. What should he believe in? And why should he continue to live? An interesting one among novels under 200 pages.
Infinite Country – Patricia Engel
A popular one among novels under 200 pages. At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States.
They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further. Set in America among novels under 200 pages.
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
One of my faves among novels under 200 pages. Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind. A timeless modern classic among novels under 200 pages.
Check out my other lists about books!
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- Novels Set in Bookshops
- Novels Set in Libraries
- Books Set in the English Countryside
- Books Set in Edinburgh
- Books Set in Oxford
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- Books Set in Greece
- Books Set in Forests
- Novels Under 100 Pages
- Novels Under 150 Pages
- Novels Under 200 Pages
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Are there any other novels under 200 pages that should be on this list? Please share your favourite books with us in the comments section below.