Our books editor, Lauren, sums up her favourite books from 2016…
The Night in Question by Laurie Graham
1888, Whitechapel. A fictionalised account of Jack the Ripper, centred around the lives of Dot Allbones, a variety performer, and her best friend, Kate, who leads a very different, though equally challenging life.
While the backdrop is quite sinister, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the life of the loveable Dot, whose independence and indelible charm would be outstanding even today.
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
This book about the unlikely friendship between a centenarian woman, Ona, and an 11-year-old boy scout had me inspired from the get-go.
Ona thinks she knows everything about life, but when “the boy” starts helping around her garden, his innocent questions draw out all her good memories, and show her that there’s so much more to learn – like how to drive!
The Trap by Melanie Raabe
Over a decade after witnessing her sister’s murder, and catching a glimpse of the killer, reclusive author, Linda Conrads sees the man responsible– a well-known journalist – and grants him the interview everyone’s been dying for.
The idea that someone would willingly seclude themselves from the world is a powerful narrative, which gives chilling insight into Linda’s trauma and her need for revenge.
Africa Solo by Mark Beaumont
I love a good adventure story, and Africa Solo immediately drew that part of me in.
Beaumont captures his epic 41-day cycle journey from Cairo to Cape Town, with candid description of both the good – riding with elephants and giraffes for company – and the bad – the physical strain.
It offers a unique view of African, and I appreciated just how real and honest it was.
A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi
When Zeba, an Afghan mother of four, is sent to prison on suspicion of murdering her husband, she forms a close, almost sisterly bond with the other inmates, most of whom are there unfairly.
Zeba, her lawyer, Yusuf, and the other characters are so richly developed that their stories and convictions stuck with me.
The novel gave me startling insight into both the lives and experiences of Afghan women, and the culture itself.
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83¼ years old
It’s hard to express how much this book filled me with joy.
It follows the shenanigans of the Old-But-Not-Dead Club in a care home in Amsterdam; where, at 83, Hendrik doesn’t really like other “old people”. Seeing a man bloom in the face of love gave me new perspective on what we think people go through when they age.
Though not without its sad moments, this was a wonderfully fulfilling tale.
The Wangs vs the World by Jade Chang
The author of this quirky novel took what might have been a tragic story and gave it new life. Charles built his wealth from virtually nothing, but during a financial crisis, he loses everything.
In a grand gesture, he and his wife fetch his daughter from school and his son from college, and the four of them go on an unforgettable road trip from Bel Air to New York. Simultaneously hilarious and touching.