As 2021 staggers across the finish line, it is time for my yearly review of books. I have had a great year of reading and it gives me great pleasure to share my list. One thing I noticed when going through this year’s reads was that I had read far fewer BAME authors and authors in translation. My 2020 reading list was much more diverse. In 2022, I’d like to make a point to seek out a wider variety of authors.
I’d love to hear about your favourites this year! Please leave recommendations in the comments below.
Without further delay, here are my 2021 Favourites.
The Young Survivors by Debra Barnes
This book is marketed as YA but it is engaging and interesting for adults as well. If I’m honest, I was reluctant to read this one. It is a story of a Jewish family during the holocaust and initially I was not sure if I was up for it but I am very glad I did. Inspired by the author’s mother, it is a important story of love, resilience and just plain luck. Highly recommend.
A History of Loneliness, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Yes, this author gets no less than 3 books on my top list of 2021. I had not read any of his books until this year and I think he is fabulous. The first two listed are set in Ireland and both tangle with the topic of paedophilia and growing up in the Catholic church. While A Ladder to the Sky gives a glimpse into the dog-eat-dog world of prize winning authors and the publishing industry-what could possibly go wrong? I’m so glad I came across Boyne’s work this year. He’s brilliant.
Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCrosky Coupe
This story spans from the 1940s into modern day, a time period very similar to my own novel, The Girl from the Hermitage. But it is set in America and traces a friendship between a white girl and an African American girl. Well written and thought provoking.
The Innocents by Michael Crummey
Set in an extremely isolated 18th century Newfoundland, this book is brilliantly written. It explores an intense bond between siblings under harsh circumstances. It is haunting, disturbing and not for the faint hearted.
Charity by Madeline Dewhurst
A duel timeline book which alternates between modern day London and Kenya in the 1950s. I love historical fiction which considers how events of the past ripple through time and continue to impact today. A brilliant debut.
The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
I listened to the audible version of this book and it is great. This is Louise’s second book and it does not disappoint. Set in the 20s, it is about a couple who are involved with the eugenics movement but then discover their own child has epilepsy. This is historical fiction at its best. The research and detail never overshadow the characters and storyline. Highly recommend, along with her debut.
Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
Another heavy, difficult to stomach book but the writing is truly outstanding. Inspired by the author’s mother’s experiences, the story is set in rural Ohio in the 50s/60s, and explores growing up in a dysfunctional family.
Charlotte by Helen Moffet
After several heavy books, I turned to Charlotte. Moffat develops the story of Pride and Prejudice, focusing on the story of Charlotte. I loved this book. It was refreshing and fun and there's a sexy piano tuner.
A Book of Secrets by Kate Morrison
A story of a west African woman in Tudor England and it offers a little glimpse into the world of publishing at that time. Extremely well researched yet I never felt a dump of information. Brilliant. And what a gorgeous cover. Loved it.
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
This is the first Kate Quinn that I have read and I was not disappointed. Set in Bletchley Park during the war, this book tells the story of the women code breakers who worked there. Pacey storytelling, great characters and there’s cocktails and dancing with Philip (before he married HRH Princess Elizabeth).