the best books?

Filed under: courses, reading

I’m putting together a reading list for my Writing Women’s Commercial Fiction course, and though I’m choosing three or four books myself as course material, I’m thinking of including a secondary list of recommendations from writing professionals and keen readers.

Can you help me out? What’s the best commercial women’s fiction title you’ve read this year?

It can be a romance, saga, chick lit, historical, blockbuster…whatever area of commercial women’s fiction you prefer.

I’ve got a few criteriaโ€”I’d like it to be something published in the UK market, and I’d like it to be quite recent.

Leave your recommendation in the comments, or you can email it to me, or tweet it, or Facebook it…whatever you like. Tell your friends. Tell your mum. Tell your dog…oh, wait, dogs don’t read.


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24 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. No, but the Demon Puppy has chewed quite a few.

    I’d have said Joanna Bourne’s The Forbidden Rose, but that’s doesn’t fit the UK market req since it’s a US publisher (Berkely I think).

    Having just thought back a bit it seems I’ve been reading a lot of American books, or re-reading older books, or books that aren’t women’s fiction, like Jasper Fforde. Hmm.

    Of course, there’s always Nina Jones. Can’t quite remember who wrote that one…

  2. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer


    Not sure it counts as ‘commercial’ as probably falls more into the literary fiction category, but it’s just awesome…

    I also really liked Jojo Moyes, The Last letter from your lover, which does fall in the right category.


    Oh, there was also this book called Girl from Mars that was pretty good…

  3. I’ve been reading mostly Georgette Heyer since Christmas (research, honest), so am a bit behind on contemporary stuff. Thus recommendations are v. valuable.

    The US and UK market are so different, I want to look mostly at books with from the UK for a UK-based course. Is the Bourne a paranormal?

    Ahh Nina Jones is on course list already…the power of the instructor, y’see. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. The Jojo Moyes is definitely women’s commercial, and I really want to read it. Not sure about the Orringer either; I want to read that too after your recommendation but I’m scared at how big it is!

    Can I credit you on the list as a book reviewer with Bookbag?

  5. No, the Bourne is a historical. I’m not sure who chose that lame-ass title as it has pretty much nothing to do with the story, which is set in Revolutionary France with an aristocratic heroine and an English spy hero. Unlike a lot of historical spy romances I’ve read, it really gives a terrifyingly clear sense of the danger their situation places them in. At one point the hero is sentenced to the guillotine. She’s a very, very good author–but like I said, doesn’t fit your requirements! Waah!

    I have piles of books all over the place in no particular order, and can barely remember what I read last week let alone during the year. Will have a think and try to get back to you with a more useful answer.

  6. On a side note… a text I once received is included in Jojo’s book.

  7. One Day by David Nicholls is really good (Hodder & Stoughton). Would it count? I know it’s written by a bloke but it’s a love story, with both POVs and a very interesting study in the use of flashbacks. And you CAN buy it in Sainsburys.

    Lots of love,

  8. What about The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell published by Headline Review – sheer class.
    Just reading Nina right now, signed by yourself at the RNA conference – many thanks – I’m currently on section 3 and can’t put it down!

  9. Loved the course last year Julie.

    I loved Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella and Foursome – Jane Fallon as recent books.

  10. I loved THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. It’s probably closest to historical fiction, although not fully historical.

  11. Author; Kerry Greenwood, she’s Australian and writing mysteries set in 1920’s in Australia with Phryne Fisher, a female detective, femme fatale. She might be easier to get in England than here in the US.
    I just used Book Depository to purchase Girl from Mars, I hope it works, then I can have you autograph it when you are here.

  12. I would second the David Nicholls book but might be a stretch.

  13. Does it have to be pubbed this year? If not, I’d say Jenny Crusie’s “Bet Me” and “Anyone But You” – fantastic.

    Lucy Dillon’s “Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts” (very worthy RNA prize winner – mind you, I was a bit torn as I had friends on that list and wanted them to win, too!).

    Barbara O’Neal’s “The Recipe for Lost Happiness.”

    (Um. There’s a theme. They’re all, um, doggy books. I’m about to have a Kristan Higgins fest. Same sort of stuff. But I am writing a book that doesn’t have a dog in it, for once!)

    Oh yeah. And there was this one about a comic strip artist with blue hair… ;o)

  14. Oh, and there was one more that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I think that might be on the border between literary and commercial – Marina Fiorato’s “The Glass Blowers of Murano”. Must say it was greatly enhanced by reading it while visiting where it was set. I could *really* see her setting ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s a good story.

    Shutting up now and finishing my last readthrough so I can email book to editor and skive off for 10 days with a clear conscience!

  15. Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season was a good read. On the Animal theme there was also this one about an animal sanctuary rofl

  16. I loved the Little Lady Agency by Hester Brown. A perfect romantic comedy with some interesting themes about character and identity … Also The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice.

  17. I loved All That Mullarkey by Sue Moorcroft, her characters really come to life and make the reader feel very attached to them.
    It’s one of the best chick-lit (I think it’s chick-lit) I’ve read this year.

  18. Oh, I’d also like to add that I’m reading Sophia’s Secret by Susanna Kearsley and it draws you in from the first page. I haven’t read it all yet, but I know it will be a good read. She’s got beautiful style, defines different accents, combines two eras…, she’s got lots of aspects worth studying I think.

  19. Oh yes, Twenties Girl! I seem to have lost my copy but do want to re-read it.

    And Kate H, I second the Kristan Higgins-fest. I like to read books where dogs are nice, life-affirming pets, instead of the devil-spawn Demon Puppy I live with. It reaffirms my belief that nice dogs do exist, even if it’s only in fiction.

  20. Cally Taylor-Heaven Can Wait. Clever, funny and quirky.

  21. I really enjoyed Lucy Dillon’s Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts (I think I’ve got that the right way round). That’s the novel that stands out for me so far this year. Realistic charactersadn a book with a warm heart.

    Also, I’m cantering through Wendy Holden’s Pastures Nouveaux. I know it was published about ten years ago, but I’ve only got around to reading it. It’s very witty and I think it’s better than her later books.

  22. Yes, of course. And don’t be scared by size of Orringer book…it flies by ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Hm, hmmmm. Whenever people ask me about books, my mind goes blank!

    Blankness aside, I did love Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (fun fun fun) and The Piano Teacher by Janice Yee (not sure if it was published this year, though).

  24. Can I put another vote in for Twenties Girl? Just read it and loved it. Can I put my neck on the line and say I was getting fed up with all the “shopping” ones, but she has so won me back over with this.

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