This is the third in my series of genre specific top ten authors. I have separated women’s contemporary fiction from romantic fiction (chick lit), which will feature in a later blog post. This genre does seem to encompass a wide range of books ad can be interpreted in different ways. I am not saying any of these books cannot be read by men, of course they can, I have simply gone on what genre the books marketed for.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that this is my personal list, of authors I have read. I am sure many of you will disagree with some of my choices, if so please comment so I can see some of your choices and add them to my ever growing TBR pile.
Lucinda Riley has gradually become one of my favourite authors at the moment. I first found out about her books when Hothouse Flower was chosen for The Richard and Judy Book Club. Lucinda has written several stand alone novels as well as currently writing the fifth book of her Seven Sisters series, which is my favourite series of the moment. I have reviewed the first four in this series on my blog: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister and most recently The Pearl Sister. Of her stand alone novels my favourite is The Midnight Rose spanning four generations of the Astbury family and takes us from England to the palaces of India. She is a very skilful writer who brings both characters and places to life. I also really like that she doesn’t have a lot of surplus characters, each is there for a purpose, a tip many authors could take.
It was my mum who introduced me to Karen Swan’s books, my first being Christmas at Tiffany’s, about Cassie, whose marriage falls apart and spends the next year living with each of her best friends, in Paris, New York and London, in order to decide what she wants to do with her life. The sequel to this, Summer at Tiffany’s was released last year, and is still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Karen Swan releases a book every Christmas, and for me Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without one of her books. They are full of great characters, and set in wonderful locations. I recently reviewed The Rome Affair, which I think is her best book yet. This years Christmas novel is The Christmas Secret which I will review in a couple of weeks time, just before publication date.
Kate Morton is another author I found out after The House at Riverton was chose for the Richard and Judy Book Club. I am a fan of the two plot line structure, one historical, one contemporary: I find it really grabs my attention and keeps it, it prevents the book from getting flat at any point. The plots each have a mystery at the centre, whether a missing child, an abandoned young women, and murder, that cross generations and decades. Kate Morton is a fantastic writer, as the stories twist and turn with each chapter leaving you at a cliff hanger so you have to read on, and just when you think you know the ending, there is always a surprise.
The Languedoc trilogy, Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel are fantastic read. Again there is the dual timeline and they have a plot full of conspiracies and mystery. There is always a strong woman at the centre of the plot, both in the present and in the past. They are very much a mixed genre containing romance, mystery, thriller, history and a bit of the supernatural. These novels certainly keep you on your toes and encapsulate a lot of France’s history. Since writing this trilogy Kate Mosse has written a couple of historical novels as well.
Leaving the World is a book that stayed with me long after I read it. Douglas Kennedy writes about everyday dilemmas that turn peoples lives upside down. His writing is full of emotion, and he has a brilliant understanding of the human psyche. His most famous book is probably In the Pursuit of Happiness, that was turned into a film with Will Smith. My favourite so far is Five Days, a modern day Brief Encounter about a chance meeting in a hotel lobby changes the life of the main protagonists. It follows Laura as she questions her previous twenty years of marriage and the loss of her dreams as she became a wife and a mother. It really is a beautiful book, stylishly written, and full of emotion. If you haven’t read any of Douglas Kennedy’s novels, I highly recommend them.
Sally Vickers is one of those authors whose books I will buy without even needing to read the book blurb. She has a lyrical style of writing that entrances you and draws you Ito the very heart of the story. Her books also deal with some serious issues, self discovery, death, faith, redemption and loss. Being a huge fan of art history her debut novel Miss Garnet’s Angel is a book that has stayed in my heart. It follows retired teacher, Julia Garnet as she takes a spiritual journey to Venice, its churches, art after the loss of a close friend. Entwined with her story is the biblical tale of Tobias and the Angel, whose story is in a set of paintings in a local church to which she is drawn. Of all her books, I think the most clever is Mr Golightly’s Holiday, about an author whose has had a previous bestseller but whose reputation is in decline after failing to write another great work. He is left to consider his work, the death of his son and the modern world, full of emotion and reflection it is a great read.
Like Lucinda Riley and Kate Morton, Rachel Hore’s books have the split timeline that I enjoy in a book, and she is another author whose book was chosen for The Richard and Judy Book Club. At the centre of each plot is a mystery from the past that has repercussions in the present. Her writing is very descriptive, both in relation to the characters and the locations. I have read The Memory Garden, A Gathering Storm, The Glass Painter’s Daughter, The Dream House and most recently The House on Bellevue Gardens. All these books have a strong female lead, both in the past and present, wonderful characters and plot lines that will compel you to read on.
When I read The Midwife’s Confession a few years ago, I was hooked to Diane Chamberlain’s books and writing. All her books have a dilemma at the centre that none of us would want to be presented with. The plots are very emotive in their narrative and full of conflicting emotions. The great thing about this is that you start to question what you would do in the characters position. Plot lines include child custody battle, babies switched at birth, family secrets and lies and suicide. Diane has written a large number of books so there is a wide range to choose from, so give them a go.
Amanda Prowse is the author of sixteen novels, and all are bestsellers. Amanda shows great understanding and empathy for her characters and the difficulties they face. Her books deal with everyday problems, faced by many, head on. The plot lines are immersive and highly emotional. The characters are well developed and come across as very real, they could be someone you know, and that is what makes these novels a brilliant read.
After reading The Making of Us, a novel about identity, where a secret binds three very different characters, I was hooked and have since bought all of Lisa’s novels, even though I have not read them all yet. I love her characterisation, she really brings the characters to life and makes the reader invest in their lives and care what happens them, even if they are all a bit flawed. Recently Lisa has moved into thriller writing very successfully.
So, these are ten of my favourite contemporary women’s fiction authors. I hope I have given you some inspiration for future reading.