2013 has been a bit of a rollercoaster – I’ve moved moved mouse-hole twice, met a new Mr Mouse, worried about the health of almost everyone I know (we’re all fine, just), and turned 30. I rather hope that 2014 is going to be a lot calmer and more settled. This year has also seen the publication of some brilliant books – these are my favourite five. I think. I keep changing my mind…too many to choose from!
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, which I’ve forced into the hands of all who cross my path , was my favourite book for most of the year. Everyone is quite bored of me going on about how fabulous I thought it was so I won’t say it again. Oh.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple arrived in paperback and I sped through it. Despite being a bit skeptical initially, I loved it, and haven’t laughed so much whilst reading a book in public for ages. It’s hilarious and poignant by turns and, whilst basically ridiculous, Semple’s writing enables you to (just about) suspend your disbelief.
Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was completely different – creepy and memorable, with one of the scariest characters that I’ve read recently in Ursula Monkton. Gaiman really captures the terrors of childhood, but he is also brilliant at adding heart to everything he writes, and I now very much want Lettie Hemstock as a friend.
The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait has stuck with me, despite reading it in January. The story of how Kit’s family deal with his depression and subsequent death is simply-written and well-crafted, but has powerful emotional punch. Kit’s siblings, Jamie and Emma, are both very real characters, and where Where’d You Go, Bernadette? made me laugh in public, The View on the Way Down made me sob. Wait has written a book that already feels like an old friend.
My favourite book of the last couple of months is one that I’ve actually only just finished. I was sent a paperback of Longbourn by Jo Baker just before Christmas and I devoured it in big chunks between the turkey and the presents. Baker’s creation seems both fresh and familiar, with the characters that we know from Pride and Prejudice flitting around as the backdrop to the lives of those living below stairs. I loved it and found myself reading more slowly as I neared the end to try and delay finishing it.
Honourable mentions go to: The Lost by Claire McGowan; Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary (out in 2014); Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox; American Wife and Sisterland, both by Curtis Sittenfeld; Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant; The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton diSclafani; Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne.
I already have a towering pile of books to start the New year with (including those that I didn’t manage to finish over Christmas) so here’s to a happy and book-filled 2014.