Books, lovely books

Books make great presents for all but the illiterate. End of. So, today, I’m offering the definitive guide (*ahem* *coughs* my guide) to some of the best books of the past couple of years that I believe will make splendid gifts for friends and family alike.

There are fabulous non-fiction books out there on subjects as wide ranging as cooking, bee-keeping and taming gnus (okay, I made that one up) but as an author of fiction, and a reader of fiction, this is where I’m concentrating. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll recognise many on this list that I’ve been bleating about for some time.

In no particular order here’s ten of the best:

Sisterwives by Rachel Connor – the story of two women, their personal histories, the husband they share and the isolated, religious community they inhabit. An intelligent, thought-provoking read

Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth – a brilliantly unsettling tale of bored teenagers, missing boys and murder in a grim northern town. Almost as brilliant as Ashworth’s debut A Kind of Intimacy. Also well worth gifting.

Hurry Up and Wait by Isabel Ashdown – a deeply affecting, beautifully written tale set in the 80s about a young woman overcoming the classroom bully and other demons. And if you’ve not already read Ashdown’s debut, Glasshopper, add this brilliant novel to your list.

The Devil’s Music by Jane Rusbridge – a fabulous tale of knotty family secrets and memories. Moving and memorable.

The Courtesan’s Lover by Gabrielle Kimm – a second novel set in sixteenth century Italy, this is a sexy, compelling story of forbidden love, secret tunnels, a loyal eunuch and Machiavellian boys. You might think about offering this with Kimm’s wonderful debut His Last Duchess.

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes – a gripping, disturbing thriller about domestic violence, obsession and redemption.

The Eloquence of Desire by Amanda Sington-Williams – a middle aged man is exiled from 50s England after a scandal at work. This is the story of the devastating effect this has on him and his family.

Invisibles by Ed Siegle – another beautifully written tome from the Myriad Editions stable. A meditation on being seen and being invisible.

Room by Emma Donoghue – enough said.

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell – ditto above.

I’ve read lots of other, wonderful, books this year, but these have stayed with me the longest. Most of them are published by smaller, independent houses – they need our support more than the big six – and most of them are written by women. Likewise. Plus, I’m a woman.

Go buy and enjoy!



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