Here’s your ultimate guide to the best in each genre that last year had to offer, from Woman&Home’s Books Editors Zoe West and Emma Shacklock.
Zoe’s Pick Of The Year
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Unique, inventive and stylish, this accomplished novel about a rock’n’roll band in the seventies charts the rise of songwriter, Daisy Jones, and The Six – the band she is asked to join. In an interview-style novel we begin to uncover why the band split at the height of their popularity. Featuring completely believable characters, it’s hard not to believe this wasn’t an actual band, although you may find yourself listening to Fleetwood Mac while reading it. It’s exciting and intoxicating, and I loved the effortlessly cool Daisy Jones. It is a novel I know I’ll re-visit time and again.
Emma’s Pick Of The Year
Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling by Emer McLysacht and Sarah Breen
As a big fan of the whole bestselling Aisling series, I wasn’t disappointed in this third instalment as it effortlessly continued the humour, warmth and quintessential Irishness that made its predecessors so successful. Following country girl Aisling as she approaches her 30th birthday, with a new business, a new man and a hen-do to plan for her mad best friend, things soon get hectic. And in typical Aisling fashion, saying no and letting her loved ones down is not an option, leading to much hilarity, many tears and an ending that is incredibly uplifting. If you haven’t already embraced Aisling, this is the time to do it.
Gone by Leona Deakin
Dark, with a focus on psychopathy and the way some of the most twisted individuals can effortlessly blend into society, this is undoubtedly our favourite thriller this year for its sheer cleverness and tension. The protagonist Dr Augusta Bloom, psychologist and private detective, is drawn into a complex and chilling game, the stakes of which you can’t begin to imagine. What sets this apart is the final reveal which comes as a genuine shock and will linger in your mind for many hours after.
What Happens Now by Sophia Money-Coutts
This is one romantic tale that gets the balance of true-to-life humour and emotion just right. The witty turn of phrase and ability to create a cast of characters that wouldn’t be out of place in every reader’s everyday lives is undoubtedly Sophia Money-Coutts’ premier skill. It’s easy to race through in a matter of days as Lil’s story of unexpected pregnancy, misunderstandings, supportive friends and love in unlikely places make for a truly joyful read.
The Truths & Triumphs of Grace Atherton
There’s something about this debut novel that fills you with hope and absolute joy, even though quite early on we realise Grace’s life is about to fall apart. Grace lives a quiet life running a violin shop whilst devoting her life to David, her partner of eight years – until a tragic event turns her world upside down. As she picks up the pieces Grace forges unlikely friendships against a backdrop of romantic European cities and beautiful symphonies. We loved the quirky characters and story of promise, despite the heartbreak. Exquisite!
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
We knew this evocative novel was destined to be a success the moment we set eyes on the stunning cover. And we weren’t wrong. Set in 1850s London, this gripping historical thriller follows a young woman desperate to break free from the restrictions placed on her. When asked to model for the pre-Raphaelite artist, Louis Frost, she agrees, but only if he teaches her to paint. Leaving the doll factory, where she works with her sister, her world opens up, but there’s someone watching – and his obsession is growing deeper every day. Painting a masterpiece with her vivid descriptions, you will be gasping for breath as the story reaches its conclusion. This is an assured debut and we can’t wait to see what Macneal’s imagination will conjure up next.
Best Non Fiction
Letter To My Younger Self – The Big Issue with Jane Graham
As Oscar Wilde once said ‘Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing’ -although reading this book may enlighten you somewhat. More than 10 years ago, The Big Issue began asking people what they would tell their younger self, and the results are delightful, moving and inspiring. From the likes of Paul McCartney, Julie Walters, Dionne Warwick and Buzz Aldrin who share their wisdom, there’s a lesson in there for us all, which makes their tales all the more entertaining. This book is a keeper. And more importantly, all royalties from the sale goes to The Big Issue.
Best Crime Fiction
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
We love a police procedural, be it film or book, and our favourite this year is definitely the latest release from Vera creator and Queen of Crime, Ann Cleeves. Typically atmospheric, it begins with a funeral attended by the book’s detective hero and the discovery of a body on the Devon coast, a tattoo of an albatross on his neck. From there, things only get more intense and intriguing and the descriptive way Cleeves sets the scene and brings to life her primary characters is outstanding.
Best Literary Fiction
The Confession by Jessie Burton
It’s hard not to fall in love with Jessie Burton’s hypnotic writing, and The Confession is no exception. In this absorbing tale of self discovery which explores the complexities of motherhood we meet successful writer Constance (Connie) Holden and Elise Morceau who meet by chance on Hampstead Heath in 1980. Elise follows Connie to the glamorous world of LA, but it’s not long before she makes a decision that will change everything. For Burton’s effortless prose and impeccable perceptions on women, this is a novel you’ll want to take your time over. It’s a treat indeed.
What’s your top read?