Sixteen novels by women to add to your TBR list

Build Your House Around My BodyViolet Kupersmith

In 1986, the teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family gets lost in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father, and is forever changed by the experience. Twenty five years later, a young, unhappy Vietnamese-American disappeared from her new home in Saigon without a trace. The two seemingly unconnected Incidents are actually bound together by ghosts and ancestors of generations past. Violet Kupersmith’s debut work navigates the history of Vietnam as the two women set out to seek revenge.

carelessKirsty Capes

Fifteen-year-old Bess has just found out she’s pregnant. She could tell her from her social worker, foster mother, or the father of the baby but she knows none of them will come to her aid from her. careless is a coming-of-age story of two teenagers – Bess and Eshal – the former dealing with a pregnancy and the latter battling racism and anxieties of an impending arranged marriage. Set in the late 1990s, the novel tackles issues of racism, teenage pregnancy, and the broken care system that continue to be causes of concern even today.

Creatures of PassageMorowa Yejide

Nephthys Kinwell ferries ill-fated passengers in a haunted car around the streets of Washington, DC. She seeks solace in driving and alcohol to comfort the grief of losing her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River. Unknown to Nephthys, her estranged great-nephew de ella, ten-year-old Dash, finds himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. Here Dash has heart-to-heart conversations with “River Man” who appears each time he visits the river bank. When Dash arrives at Nephthys’s door one day bearing a cryptic note about her conversations with the “River Man”, Nephthys must face the family she abandoned and the memories that traumatized her. Creatures of Passage is the story of an individual and a community’s attempt to reclaim themselves.

flamingoRachel Elliott

flamingo is a story of two families. The families consist of Sherry and Leslie and their daughters, Rae and Pauline – and Eve and her son Daniel. They love each other very much and the summer that they spend together appears to be out of reach of any tragedy. However, their world turns upside down when Eve leaves and leaves behind her young son, Daniel. He is now all grown-up and broken and when he turns up at Sherry’s door, old questions beg to be answered – where is Eve and what is her story about her? Set in the 1980s and 2018, flamingo is a novel about the power of love, welcome, and acceptance.

The Great CircleMaggie Shipstead

From her days as a child in prohibited America to the chaos of wartime London, Marian has always wanted a life of adventure and thrill. Her dreams of her come true when she’s presented with an opportunity to fulfill her greatest ambition of her, to circumnavigate the globe from pole to pole. In a tragic turn of events, Marian crash-lands in a perilous wilderness of ice. Fifty years later, when troubled film star Hadley Baxter is set to play the enigmatic pilot on screen, her role leads her to unexpected discoveries about the unknowable Marian Graves.

Remote SympathyCatherine Chidgey

Frau Greta Hahn has left behind their old home in Buchenwald to live in a house close to a work camp where her husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn, has been assigned as the camp’s administrator. After Frau Hahn falls ill and strikes up an unlikely and poignant friendship with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naïve understanding of a “work camp” is challenged. Remote Sympathy is a powerful novel about the evils of obliviousness and forces us to question our wilful ability to look the other way in the face of great injustice.

Salt LickLuluAllison

Salt Lick is set in a dystopian future Britain in which rural communities have been abandoned by the urban elite. Food production is at an all-time low and country dwellers have been left to flooding and wilderness. Salt Lick follows three characters whose fates are connected in surprising ways. Jesse is an eight-year-old boy whose family is trying to cling to its small village life but is eventually forced to move to the city. Isolde is a woman in her thirties whose mother was killed in a terrorist attack. He is a seventeen-year-old gay boy who has run away from his white supremacist town. And through their epic journeys, there is a chorus of feral cows watching over them and offering their sagely observations to the reader. Salt Lick is a tending introspection of humanity despite all its flaws.

Sorrow and BlissMeg Mason

Martha Friel’s loved ones cannot stop telling her how clever and beautiful she is, and add to that, she’s a brilliant writer and a lucky wife too. Yet Martha feels something is amiss. She’s friendless, practically unemployed, almost forty, and her husband de ella has decided to leave her. She thinks of herself as too sensitive, as someone for whom being alive is a task, or maybe something is irreversibly wrong with her. When Martha is forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents, she realizes it might be the last opportunity for her to finally take charge of her life from her.

The Book of Form and EmptinessRuth Ozeki

After the tragic death of his father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The things in his house he speak to him – they are sometimes pleasant, angry, or sad. Benny’s mother turns into a hoarder and the voices grow more clamorous. Unable to ignore the din, Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library where he meets a host of interesting characters. There’s a street artist with a smug pet ferret, a homeless philosopher-poet, and his very own Book of him who guides Benny through life. In her latest novel by her, Ruth Ozeki examines our attachment to memories and material possessions.

The Bread the Devil KneadLisa Allen-Agostini

Alethea Lopez is about to turn forty. She’s fashionable, feisty, and fiercely independent. But behind her confident demeanour, she’s a victim of an abusive relationship and embroiled in an affair with her boss. On a fateful day when Alethea witnesses a woman murdered by a jealous lover, the reality of her situation assumes macabre proportions. She sets out to unravel her repressed memories of childhood to understand the person she has become and who she is destined to be.

The ExhibitionistCharlotte Mendelson

The Hanrahan family is getting ready for a moment’s weekend as famous artist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art – the first in many decades. The exhibition will be attended by his three children – Leah, her father’s biggest champion; Patrick, who has finally decided to forge his own way in life; and Jess, who has her own moment’s decision to make. Lucia, Ray’s selfless wife and an artist herself, is in attendance too. Lucia has secrets of her own de ella, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she makes a shocking choice that will forever alter the Hanrahan family.

The Final Revival of Opal & NevDawnie Walton

It’s the early 1970s in New York City. Black punk artist Opal is an independent young woman determined to become the next music star. When an aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her one night, she accepts his offer from her to create music together. As the duo prepares to perform at a promotional concert, a rival band represented by her label shows up with a Confederate flag to the event. Opal protests against this and the violence that dreams set off a chain of events that will change the lives of those she loves and remind her that repercussions of the truth are always harsher for women, especially Black women.

The Island of Missing TreesElif Shafak

The island of Cyprus, 1974. Two teenagers, Kostas and Defne, from opposite sides of a divided land, often meet at a tavern in the city. They come in search of the best food, best music, and best wine – here their religious and national identities do not matter. In the center of the tavern is a fig tree bursting through a cavity in the roof. This tree bears witness to their meetings and departures; and the tree will witness the great war that will separate the teenagers. Decades later, a fig tree transplanted from the island grows in the back garden of Ada Kazantzakis’ London house. It is her only connection from her to her family from her and an island she has never visited-one that holds answers to her identity and history from her. The Island of Missing Trees is a story of love, identity, and transcendence.

The Paper PalaceMiranda Cowley Heller

Fifty-year-old Elle is a happily married mother of three. As she does every summer, this year too she’s visiting the family’s summer place, The Paper Palace. But this morning is different – ​​unknownst to their spouses, the previous night Elle and her friend de ella Jonas slept together. Elle has twenty-four hours to decide between the life of her with her beloved husband, Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood sweetheart, Jonas. The Paper Palace is a tautly written exploration of the eternal tug-of-war between desire and dignity.

The SentenceLouise Erdrich

A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted for a year by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora died on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. An employee at the store, Tookie, makes it the mission of her life to solve the mystery of this haunting. In her search for her, she also confronts a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and reckoning in the city. The Sentence asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader, and to the book.

This One Sky DayLeone Ross

In the archipelago of Popisho, magic is everywhere. Food is fate, politics are broken, and love awaits. A place of stunning beauty and incorrigible mischief and mystery, Popisho is also a place in need of change. Xavier Redchoose is anointed by the gods to make each resident one perfect meal when the time is right. Anise, her long lost love, is on a march toward reckoning with her healing powers. The governor’s daughter, Sonteine, is getting married, and her father demands a feast out of turn. Graffiti messages from an unknown source are popping up to ask hard questions. Through elements of fantasy and magical realism, this wildly imaginative novel explores the themes of addiction, beauty, patriarchy, and politics.


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