The best of 2013 in General Fiction.
I’ve decided to not try and turn this into a top ten. The list gets too contrived if I narrow my choices down any further.
This a list of general fiction books that have stayed with me for one reason or another. Not all of these titles got 5 stars but all of them made a lasting impression on me. All titles have been linked to their reviews.
RATLINES by STUART NEVILLE (5-)
Fascinating but dark thriller set in Ireland in 1963 and deals with Nazi’s who had been granted asylum here. A wonderful combination of fact and fiction , leaving the reader wondering how much of the story is fact.
THE KEEP by JENNIFER EGAN (5)
A book that is almost impossible to categorize filled with surprises, twists and turns and very well written. Absolutely fascinating read.
HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE by EMMA CHAPMAN (5-)
A woman starts to question everything about the last twenty years of her life, her marriage, her husband and who she is.
THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by DIANA GABALDON (5)
Lord John and Jamie Fraser have reluctantly joined forces to catch a criminal and avert a conspiracy. Very, very good.
THE UNIVERSE vs. ALEX WOODS by GAVIN EXTENCE (5+)
A wonderful and thought provoking story about a teenage boy and the older man he befriends. The book deals with euthanasia in a sensitive way without ever getting depressing.
THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY by LOUISE PENNY (5)
As always and as I’ve come to expect a wonderfully written and very well plotted mystery, this time set in a secluded religious order.
THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT by WILLIAM RYAN (5+)
Fantastic mystery set in Stalin’s USSR in the 1930’s. Well written, well plotted with great characters; I adore these books.
THE PANOPTICON by JENNI FAGAN (5-)
Well written and very hard-hitting book about everything that’s wrong with the (Scottish) care-system with a main character that will both charm you and break your heart.
Funny and intriguing book about one journalists return to the world of live music after taking several years out due to parental duties.
ANGEL CITY by JON STEELE (5+)
Wonderful sequel to The Watchers. Angels are fighting the forces of evil to safe humanity and things are definitely heating up.
BURIAL RIGHTS by HANNAH KENT (5)
Wonderful work of fictional fact, set in Iceland where a young woman is awaiting execution for murder. A most impressive debut that reminded me a bit – but in a good way – of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.
THE RETURNED by JASON MOTT (5)
Original and well plotted story about what happens when people return from the dead to rejoin their loved ones.
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by LOUISE PENNY (5+)
The second title by Louise Penny on this list, this is an absolutely brilliant instalment in this series in which a murder is solved and a long running story-line comes to its conclusion. This is probably my favourite mystery series at the moment.
CRY TO HEAVEN by ANNE RICE (5)
Historical novel set in Italy about the Castrati and the struggles two of them face while striving for success and justice. Very well written and captivating story.
BLACK CHALK by ALBERT ALLA (4.5)
Fascinating story about the sole survivor of a school shooting in England and the struggles he faces afterwards trying to make a life for himself despite the weight he carries on his shoulders.
ROSE UNDER FIRE by ELIZABETH WEIN (5)
Heartbreaking story set during WW II about a young female pilot who is captured by the Germans and ends up in an all female concentration camp. The story contains some very shocking images, but is told in a heart-warming way and needs to be told and remembered.
CHOSEN by BENEDICT JACKA (5)
The fourth instalment in the English version of The Dresden Files. The stories are getting gradually darker and in this one Alex Verus has to confront his dark past in order to keep himself and those he cares about safe in the present.
THE STORY OF GULLIVER by JONATHAN COE, THE STORY OF ANTIGONE by ALI SMITH, THE STORY OF DON JUAN by ALESSANDRO BARICCO
Books in the Save the Story series which is an initiative that takes classic tales and recreates them for a new generation of readers. Gorgeous books, wonderful retelling, beautiful illustrations and a great way of keeping these stories alive. I’m very impressed.
THE LETTER FOR THE KING by TONKE DRAGT (4.5)
This was one of my favourite books when I was young and The Letter for the King has recently been voted most popular work of juvenile fiction in Holland. The book has recently been translated into English for the first time and I couldn’t resist the temptation to revisit a childhood favourite. Thankfully the book hadn’t lost any of its charm.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE by WILLIAM GOLDMAN (5)
I’m not sure how I managed to miss this book up until now but I’m glad I found it at last. This is a wonderful and clever work in so many ways and it left me in awe by the time I read the last pages. I’ve since seen the movie too (I know, I’m amazed too, I watched a movie) and liked it although I think I wouldn’t have liked it near as much if I hadn’t read the book first.
TRANSGRESSION by THEO FENRAVEN (5)
A very well told story dealing with characters who are different from what most people would consider the norm - bi-sexuality, cross-dressing-transgender - and all the issues they run into in a world where the majority of people are still unwilling to accept anything other than the ordinary. Both the story and the way in which it was written impressed me immensely.