Some of 2010s BEST BOOKS written by WOMEN

December 2nd, 2010

Some of the newspaper Christmas book round-ups still seem to feature male authors over female at a ratio of 2-1. But I’ve read some fab books written by women in 2010, with relevance to our lives today, and I think they need talking about! Do pass the recommendations onto anyone looking for a great read, and let me know of titles I might have missed.

I’m not including chick lit here because there are already good lists: (try www.chicklitreviews.com for example, for some fab chick lit authors).

I’m a sucker for crime and thrillers, and top of this list has got to be Sister by Rosamund Lupton. It’s a modern whodunnit with a very satisfying twist, and kept me gripped.

 Sophie Hannah’s fourth psychological suspense novel A Room Swept White is both baroque and surreal – a bit like a literary sudoko puzzle – but stick with it. Her books are partly a series, with detectives Charlie and Simon as an ongoing thread, so maybe start with her first, Little Face, if you haven’t discovered her yet. But they do stand alone well, too.

 I always have to buy whatever Nicci French launches in hardback, because I can’t wait for the paperback. Complicit, like the other Nicci French thrillers, is about an ordinary woman in an extra-ordinary situation, which gets increasingly frightening. But they’re not heroines waiting to be rescued by their prince. These are resourceful women who take charge of their own lives, although perhaps Complicit’s heroine is a little less feisty than usual.

 Finally, Jane Casey’s debut, The Missing, about two missing children sixteen years apart, and also featuring an ‘ordinary’ heroine, rather than a detective, has definitely earned its place on my thriller shelves. It got me hooked with its strapline  ‘what if you were the last person to see them alive?’ and kept me going till the end .

 In terms of ‘books of the year’, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Small Wars by Sadie Jones, are both outstanding. Expect top class research, emotional intelligence, crisp and realistic characterisation and insights into events in the mid 20th century we only vaguely know about: The Help explores the relationship between black domestic servants and their white employers at the birth of the Civil Rights movement in America. Small Wars is about the British in Cyprus.

 ‘Emotional intelligence’ could be a category of its own: books which focus on our relationships without being pure love stories. Elizabeth Buchan’s Separate Beds says it all in the title: who are they? Why are they sleeping separately? Will it work long-term ? Buchan deftly teases out the answers in a finely-paced narrative. Or try Dorothy Koomson’s The Ice Cream Girls, an exploration of the way an adult man can manipulate young girls with disastrous consequences.

 Or, if you’re already feeling nostalgic for your summer holidays and can’t wait for lazy afternoons drinking wine under an Italian pergola, escape with Louise Candlish’s charming and beguiling Other People’s Secrets. Or, equally summery, try The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry. I don’t normally like interlinking stories with a lot of central characters, but Henry pulls it off beautifully, tackling some quite serious issues, such as alcoholism along with the sun, sea and a judicious dollop of the last ‘s’.

 Everyone needs some fun in their lives, and no-one does fun better than Wendy Holden. She has a keen eye for satire, but there is always an underlying warmth to her writing that reminds me of Jilly Cooper. Her settings may seem outlandish, but are extra-ordinarily well researched and Gallery Girl, set in the contemporary art world, is perfect pure escapism.

Some of my best books have walked – people borrow them and don’t give them back – so do add your own suggestions, and if you’ve got a list on your blog too, do include a link to it. Thanks.

2 Comments already, do join in...

  1. Darren T Says:

    December 3rd, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations – I’ve got a couple of friends who are always on the look-out for new authors to try that I’ll be passing this post onto.

  2. Nina Bell Says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Sorry it took me so long to reply to this – have only just realised that that’s how I do it! I will get there in the end (by which time websites will have changed out of all recognition and we’ll have to start me on the learning process again!)

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