• Last year was filled with great reads to add to your book list, but in case you missed it, here’s a round up of some of our favourites:

    Psychological drama

    ‘Daisy Darker’ by Alice Feeney 

    Daisy’s not sure what to expect from the family reunion at her grandmother’s isolated house on a private island. Not only will her divorced parents be there, but her two older sisters, who she hasn’t always had the best relationship with. And Daisy is right to be wary. Instead of celebrating an 80th birthday with cake and presents, the guests have eight hours to try to survive a mysterious killer before the tide goes out. As their nightmare continues, Daisy starts to learn the truth about what her family is capable of. A homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, with a modern twist you won’t see coming.

    Cosy crime

    The Maid’ by Nita Prose 

    Introducing an endearing character and unique voice in this compelling read, Molly the maid may
    be considered a nobody, but she is far from it. On discovering a dead body in the grand Regency hotel where she works, everyone soon knows who Molly is, and many are quick to point the finger. But this clever young woman soon works out that by connecting with others, you can achieve anything. A cosy crime mystery that’s not only uplifting, emotional and full of heart, but with
    Florence Pugh lined up to play the role of Molly in a film adaptation, we think that you’ll be hearing a lot more about this book. 

    Existential fiction

    ‘The Swimmers’ by Julie Otsuka

    Haunting and poetic in its resonance, this opens by focusing on a community of swimmers. A crack appears in the pool, which presages what is happening to lead character Alice. Otsuka switches to a meditation on memory, grief and love, as Alice transitions into a care home. Beautifully written, it’s a wry, poignant exploration of loss.

    Thought-provoking

    ‘The Herd’ by Emily Edwards

    When best friends Elizabeth and Bryony have children, they know they may bring them up differently, as they are polar opposites. Little do they know just how divided they’ll be when it comes to vaccination, and how one small lie can have devastating consequences. Controversial, addictive and clever, it’s an impressive debut. 

    Courtroom drama

    ‘Reputation’ by Sarah 

    From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal comes another part-courtroom drama, part-thriller. Emma Webster is a respectable MP, but the sacrifices she’s made weigh heavily on her and her daughter Flora. When a man is found dead in Emma’s home, her life is thrust into the spotlight, and one false move could bring everything down. Tightly plotted and very clever – a fascinating read.

    Romantic comedy

    ‘Book Lovers’ by Emily Henry 

    Literary agent Nora is so career driven she has no time for anything except clients, until her little sister persuades her to take a trip to Sunshine Falls, a small town from one of their favourite books. This is sparkling and utterly charming.

    Mystery suspense

    ‘That Green Eyed Girl’ by Julie Owen Moylan

    Set in a New York apartment, it’s 1975 and, as 15-year-old Ava dreams of a boy, her chain-smoking mother is falling apart. A mysterious package arrives that sets Ava on the path of discovering the truth about the apartment’s former occupants. They hid a secret, but the woman who inveigled her way in left devastating consequences. A very accomplished debut. 

    Historical fiction

    ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell

    On the back of winning the Women’s Prize for Fiction for Hamnet in 2020, Maggie O’Farrell brings us another brilliant read, this time set in Renaissance Italy. It’s 1560, and Alfonso d’Este, ruler of Ferrara, wants a wife. His chosen one: Lucrezia, third daughter of Cosimo de Medici. Just a child, she is forced to leave home and make her way to a troubled court, despite being the daughter of two of the most powerful rulers in Florence. As we learn about Lucrezia, the gifted artist, we also learn of Alfonso’s sole intention for his wife: to produce an heir. As she sits for her portrait, ordered by her husband, she sees her future stretch out before her and her battle for survival is set. Evocatively written, O’Farrell beautifully conjures up Renaissance Italy.

    Heart-warming adventure

    ‘Moonlight’ and the Pearler’s Daughter’ by Lizzie Pook 

    It’s hard to believe this immersive story is a debut. Set in Western Australia’s dangerous 19th-century pearling industry, Elizabeth’s eccentric dad is missing, presumed dead. Stopping at nothing to find the truth, she begins her quest to find him in this transporting read that will hold you in its grip from the first to the very last page. Meticulously researched, it is written with sensitivity and heart. With prose as beautiful as its pearlescent cover, this is an absolute gem.

    Moving memoir

    ‘This is Not a Pity Memoir’ by Abi Morgan

    Award-winning screenwriter Abi Morgan has the power to change and edit stories. But in this account of her own experience, there is no way of altering how life changes beyond recognition when her husband is found collapsed on the bathroom floor. It dives into the realities of what happens when something goes devastatingly wrong in your family’s life. It’s ultimately an uplifting, powerful read.

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    Feature image: Daniel de la Hoz via Getty Images

    Written by the Woman&Home team.

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