The bell tinkles as the customer walks into the Shop for Nostalgic Fiction.
Shopkeeper: Good morning, sir. How can I help you?
Customer: I’m looking for a book with a sense of adventure and a dash of the speculative with, hmm, let’s see, make it a female protagonist.
S: I have just the thing for you. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.
C: Oh, no. (Laughs awkwardly). I have four copies at home already.
S: We don’t really have anything else suitable.
C: What about that one? A Princess of Mars. That sounds like fun.
S: Terribly sorry, but despite the title the princess isn’t actually the main character.
C: Really? How strange. Never mind, why not give me a classic novel with a lost world, rip roaring Rider Haggard or Conan Doyle?
S: Excellent choice, sir.
C: Why thank you.
S: But I’m afraid none of them have female protagonists.
C: What about some Lovecraft? I always like horrific eldritch action.
S: I’m afraid he was rather racist.
C: It’s fine. Times were different.
S: He was really very racist, sir.
C: I don’t care if he was a toothbrush moustache away from being Hitler, just give me a damn story.
S: Ooooh dear. He doesn’t seem to have any female protagonists either.
C: What about just a main character?
C: A speaking part?
C: Any woman who does anything is fine.
S: Does dying count?
(They stand in silence.)
C: Fine. Just give me another copy of Cold Comfort Farm.
S: An admirable selection. Just five more and you get a free one!