Until I started a blog and started getting books for free all the time, there was NOTHING like getting a new book for Christmas. The possibility contained within the pages, the whole world waiting for me to discover, the few hours of enjoyment promised to me. Oh the possibility in a wrapped parcel that looks book shaped!
Oh the disappointment if it was something else!
Anyway. Here’s some recommendations for all of you trying to decide what to buy your book loving friends this Christmas:
1. The one for just about anyone – The Muse, Jessie Barton
I adored this book. For me, Barton’s second book brought all the unfulfilled promise of the acclaimed The Miniaturist to fruition. A story spanning time and location, full of intrigue, complex changing characters and themes of art, love and race few could fail to enjoy this book. Plus, it is ridiculously beautiful.
2. The one for someone not easily spooked – The Unseeing, Anna Mazzola
Gosh this book was a good one too! It would fit more into the thriller category really than historical fiction, with a psychological mystery that goes round in circles as a lawyer tries to convince a woman condemned to hang to say she didn’t do it at the same time as working out whether she really did. I got pretty spooked reading this book but I am a wuss so it should be fine for most people!
3. The one for the aware and amused – The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka
This delight of a novel follows occurrences and characters on a housing estate over a few weeks; including the man who hustles an old woman in to pretend to be his mother so he can keep his flat, the beautiful young professional who wants to change the world but finds her corporate job is terrible and many others. It’s a celebration of humanity in what could be seen as a terribly bleak place. It’s real, funny and brilliant. A cracker of a present!
4. The one for your friend who loved Gone Girl or Girl on the Train – Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
A girl has disappeared, and our main character who runs an advice column called “Dear Amy” starts to receive letters from a girl who disappeared in the same way years ago. Clever narrative weaves a twisting, gripping psychological thriller that won’t disappoint.
5. The one for the mother – The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop.
Not necessarily your mother, a mother. I’ve spent this year adjusting to motherhood and the challenges and joys it brings, and this is one of the only books I read that made me feel less alone. I’ve found a significant dearth of mother characters in books generally but here I felt understood. It’s not a lazy read but it is exceptional, with themes of home and marriage thrown in there too.