1. OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout
Olive Kitteridge: indomitable, compassionate and often unpredictable. A retired schoolteacher in a small coastal town in Maine, as she grows older she struggles to make sense of the changes in her life. She is a woman who sees into the hearts of those around her, their triumphs and tragedies.
We meet her stoic husband, bound to her in a marriage both broken and strong, and a young man who aches for the mother he lost - and whom Olive comforts by her mere presence, while her own son feels overwhelmed by her complex sensitivities.
A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.
2. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
3. SORROW AND BLISS by Meg Mason
This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn't know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn't want to have children. He said he didn't mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn't really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing - if you can find something else to want.
The book is set in London and Oxford. It is sad and funny.
4. THE LOVE THAT REMAINS by Susan Francis
How could I write about the importance of truth and not tell the whole truth myself?
After twenty years spent searching for her biological parents, 52-year-old Susan Hull unexpectedly meets the great love of her life - a goldminer named Wayne Francis. He is a gentle giant of a man, who promises Susan the world.
Two years later, they throw in their jobs, marry and sell everything they own, embarking on an incredible adventure, to start a new life in the romantic city of Granada, where they learn Spanish and enjoy too much tapas. In love, and enthralled by the splendour of a European springtime, the pair treasure every moment together.
Until a shocking series of events alters everything.
Riveting, heartfelt and remarkably honest, Susan Francis The Love that Remains explores unconditional love and the lies we tell to safeguard our happiness.
5. THE BOOK OF LONGINGS by Sue Monk Kidd
'I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.'
Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome's occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father's ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.
Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman's fate when she fights to make her voice heard.
1. THE PLACE ON DALHOUSIE by Melina Marchetta
'You look the type to break your father’s heart.'
'Yeah, but he broke mine first.’
When Rosie Gennaro first meets Jimmy Hailler, she has walked away from life in Sydney, leaving behind the place on Dalhousie that her father, Seb, painstakingly rebuilt for his family but never saw completed. Two years later, Rosie returns to the house and living there is Martha, whom Seb Gennaro married less than a year after the death of Rosie’s mother. Martha is struggling to fulfil Seb’s dream, while Rosie is coming to terms with new responsibilities. And so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.
As the battle lines are drawn, Jimmy Hailler re-enters Rosie’s life. Having always watched other families from the perimeters, he’s now grappling, heartbreakingly, with forming one of his own . . .
An unforgettable story about losing love and finding love; about the interconnectedness of lives and the true nature of belonging, from one of our most acclaimed writers.
2. THE FLAT SHARE by Beth O'Leary
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
3. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn's luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the '80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn's story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique's own in tragic and irreversible ways. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a mesmerising journey through the splendour of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means--and what it costs--to face the truth.
4. THE THINGS WE CANNOT SAY by Kelly Rimmer
In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.
Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
5. THINGS NOBODY KNOWS BUT ME by Amra Pajalic
When she is four years old Amra Pajalić realises that her mother is different. Fatima is loving but sometimes hears strange voices that tell her to do bizarre things. She is frequently sent to hospital and Amra and her brother are passed around to family friends and foster homes, and for a time live with their grandparents in Bosnia.
At sixteen Amra ends up in the school counsellor’s office for wagging school. She finally learns the name for the malady that has dogged her mother and affected her own life: bipolar disorder. Amra becomes her mother’s confidante and learns the extraordinary story of her life: when she was fifteen years old Fatima visited family friends only to find herself in an arranged marriage. At sixteen she was a migrant, a mother, and mental patient.
Things Nobody Knows But Me is a tender portrait of family and migration, beautifully told. It captures a wonderful sense of bicultural place and life as it weaves between St Albans in suburban Australia and Bosanska Gradiška in Bosnia. Ultimately it is the heartrending story of a mother and daughter bond fractured and forged by illness and experience. Fatima emerges as a remarkable but wounded woman who learns that her daughter really loves her.
1. LOST FOR WORDS by Stephanie Butland
THIS BOOKSHOP KEEPS MANY SECRETS . . .
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge - the York book emporium where she works - come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can't hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It's time to turn the pages of her past . . .
2. LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost...
3. MISS YOU by Kate Eberlen
Sometimes it's the people you miss who matter most.
Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will...
'Today is the first day of the rest of your life.'
That's what the plate in Tess's mum's kitchen says. And for a while, it seems like it might be true: Tess has just finished her A levels and is holidaying in Florence before going on to university and then Great Things. But that's before tragedy strikes.
For Gus, the tragedy has already happened. He and his parents have come to Florence to pretend they're a normal family, but they all know that's not true, and Gus can't wait to escape.
The first time Tess and Gus meet, they don't speak. The second time, they exchange nine words. The third time, three sentences.
Then they return to England and their separate worlds and that, as they say, is that. Or it would be -- except that the universe seems to have other ideas, even if neither Tess nor Gus realise it.
4. DEAR MRS BIRD by AJ Pearce
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance - but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman's Friend magazine.
Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .
Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to female friendship, Blitz spirit, the kindness of strangers and the art of letter-writing itself.
5. THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS by Ruth Hogan
Meet the 'Keeper of Lost Things'...
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the 'Keeper of Lost Things' have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...
1. HOW TO STOP TIME by Matt Haig
I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.
He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he'd never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.
The only thing Tom mustn't do is fall in love.
How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.
2. THE SHAPE OF US by Lisa Ireland
Four different women. The same big problem. One magical solution?
Despite excelling at university, Mezz has ended up the second-choice doctor in a two-doctor town, and won't be winning Mother of the Year any time soon. Miserably overweight, she knows it's only a matter of time until her gorgeous husband starts to stray...
Jewels runs a successful business and lives in her dream house. All she needs to make life complete is a baby. She'll do anything to lose weight and become a mother... just as soon as the Tim Tams are finished.
Ellie's life looks perfect on Facebook. But unlike the sunny snapshots, her world in Canberra is dull: she left everything behind in London, and the woman she sacrificed her life for is hardly ever home. Her ever-increasing waistline is testimony to just how small Ellie's life has become.
Kat's baby is her world. As a Bosnian refugee, she wants nothing more than a stable, happy life for Ami, but Kat's relationship with Ami's dad is collapsing. If she could just lose the 'baby weight' maybe Josh would look at her the way he used to.
When Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kat meet in an online weight-loss forum, a common goal accelerates their friendship. As the kilos start to disappear but their problems don't, they begin to realise that weight-loss might not be the key to happiness, but that supporting and believing in the ones you love, and yourself, just might be ...
3. THE GOLDEN CHILD by Wendy James
Blogger Lizzy's life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness ...
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth's clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?
4. THINGS WE CANNOT SEE by Dianne Maguire
Set on the magical coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula and inspired by true events, Things We Cannot See is Dianne Maguire's second domestic suspense novel - a compelling story of children and families, love and betrayal.
Laura Nesci has found her forever partner - until he leaves her for no apparent reason. It is only in the wake of a family tragedy and the unearthing of her husband's secret life that things fall into place, including Laura's burgeoning attraction for local artist Flynn. Fighting against the temptation of another possibly disastrous relationship, Laura channels her energies into her work as a victim support officer with the police.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a girl with secrets. Her best friend Maddi believes it's wrong, but Alex knows that what she has with their science teacher is special. When Alex is attacked, Maddi and Laura become locked in a silent battle of wills: Laura suspects that Maddi is keeping secrets for her friend, and Maddi must decide whether to speak up or remain silent. But the final telling of Alex's deepest secret is met with shock and disbelief from everyone, including Laura, who thinks she has seen it all - until now.
5. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living--and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
1. THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE by Vanessa Carnevale
Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.
What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?
Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.
2. THE PATTERSON GIRLS by Rachael Johns
How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them?
When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.
The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.
Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.
A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.
3. BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty
A murder... A tragic accident... Or just parents behaving badly? What s indisputable is that someone is dead.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mum Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the little lies that can turn lethal.
4. THE FIFTH LETTER by Nicola Moriarty
Four friends . . .
Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina have been best friends since high school, sharing a bond that has seen them through their teenage years and into adulthood. But now, time and circumstance is starting to pull them apart as careers, husbands, and babies get in the way. As their yearly vacation becomes less of a priority—at least for three of the women—how can Joni find a way to draw the four of them back together?
Four secrets . . .
During a laughter and wine-filled night, the women dare one another to write anonymous letters, spilling their deepest, darkest secrets. But the fun game turns devastating, exposing cracks in their lives and the friendships they share. Each letter is a dark confession revealing shocking information. A troubled marriage? A substance abuse problem? A secret pregnancy? A heartbreaking diagnosis?
Five letters . . .
Late on one of their last nights together, after the other three have gone to bed, Joni notices something in the fireplace—a burnt, crumpled, nearly destroyed, sheet of paper that holds the most shattering revelation of all. It is a fifth letter—a hate-filled rant that exposes a vicious, deeply hidden grudge that has festered for decades. But who wrote it? Which one of them has seethed with resentment all these years? What should Joni do?
Best friends are supposed to keep your darkest secrets. But the revelations Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina have shared will ripple through their lives with unforeseen consequences . . . and things will never be the same.
5. THE DRESS by Kate Kerrigan
Lily Fitzpatrick loves vintage clothes - made all the more precious because they were once owned and loved by another woman. Thousands follow her vintage fashion blog and her daily Instagram feed. But this passion for the beautiful clothes of the past is about to have unforeseen consequences, when Lily stumbles upon the story of a 1950s New York beauty, who was not only everything Lily longs to be, but also shares Lily's surname.
Joy Fitzpatrick was a legend. But what was the famous dress which she once commissioned - said to be so original that nothing in couture would ever match it again? What happened to it - and why did Joy suddenly disappear from New York high society?
Kate Kerrigan's enthralling novel interweaves the dramatic story of Joy, the beautiful but tortured socialite and that of Lily - determined to uncover the truth and, if possible, bring back to life the legendary dress itself.