It’s January 1st 2022 and it’s time to reflect on my three favourite books of 2021.

Last year it was hard but not impossible. There were instant standouts. This year I have found it much harder. I have tried to include a mix of genres but I’ve definitely failed. Maybe I should simply call them all slightly ‘whimsical’.

And if that is not where you see yourself as an author, it includes Neil Gaiman, Sarah Addison Allen, Jasper Fforde, Erin Morgenstern, Alice Hoffman and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, to name but a few.

She Never Told Me About The Ocean by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Firstly let me say that I loved this book. Every word, every phrase, every brilliant moment. It has gone to the top of my favourite books of the year.

She Never Told Me About the Ocean is a work of magical realism – I didn’t realise to what extent when I started it. There were touches of the mystical beauty I have only ever found in the books of Alice Hoffman (not so much Practical Magic which is the best known as it was made into a Hollywood film) but in others such as The World That We Knew, Faithful, Blackbird House and she is my favourite writer ever. This is the biggest compliment I could pay any author.

For my full review click here

Still Life by Sarah Winman

Just when you think you’ve found your favourite books of the year so far, another one comes along. That book is Still Life. What a band of lovable, eccentric characters in this marvellous story that sweeps across more than forty years from the second world war to the late 1970s. It looks at love, friendship, class, sexuality, art and culture in a manner that is both hilarious and sad in equal measures. It takes place in London and Florence, Italy and we also have a glimpse into the life of Evelyn much earlier in the twentieth century. She may have been a spy, but now she lectures in Art History.

For my full review click here

The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans

Another book that’s gone straight to my top books of the year. This book is so unique, amazing, heartfelt, sad and at times quite creepy. It revolves around the annual bee ceremony where the Hunter family and the whole community must follow the path to the old Chapel at Vanes to open the combs and taste the honey.

It all sounds highly risky and even more so this hot summer of 1989. August 31st is the 18th birthday of Joss and his twin sister Kitty and the bees have had to wait an extra two weeks and this had made them crosser than ever. We discover there have been accidents in the past. But it’s an obsession for Charles Hunter and his sister Ros – why is the ceremony so important to them?

For my full review click here

However, there was another standout for me, but it’s not published quite yet. I read it in 2021, so I’m including it as my ‘special mention’. Or I could just call this My Top 4 Books.

The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

‘The sea is made up of unspeakable sadness.’ This is a sentence you will read many times in this extraordinary book.

Tartelin, a young woman who has recently lost her mother, travels to the tiny, remote island of Dohhalund in the middle of the North Sea, to work for Miss Stourbridge. Her job will be to catch butterflies and kill them, so they can be pinned and studied. It’s a strange request and one that Tartelin doesn’t realise will have such a profound effect on her.

For my full review click here

And finally, one of the funniest books of the year:

Work in Progress: The untold story of the Crawley Writers’ Group by Dan Brotzel, Martin Jenkins and Alex Woolf

Hilarious. At a time when the world is in pandemic chaos following Brexit chaos, this book is a beacon of light in the darkness (I hope that is/is not too pretentious). In the spirit of the novel I am going to write in the style of the Crawley Writers Group. If I ever thought about joining a writer’s group I hope/dread that they would all be as mad as this lot.

For my full review click here

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