I read nearly 70 books in 2019 and still I feel like I missed out on so many great novels that kept shooting past my feed! Luckily I’ve saved them all to my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ list. There are currently 269 books on that list so, unless I win the lottery and withdraw from life to do nothing but read all day, I’ll probably never finish them all. I definitely won’t be able to read them all in 2020.
What I’ve done here is lay out my fiction reading list for 2020 based on the best novels of 2019 (that I haven’t read yet) plus a few extras. Some are novels that I’ve seen others rave about in 2019, a few are books due out in 2020 by authors I love and some just looked really very interesting.
At the moment I can’t personally vouch for any of them, but I’ll share my thoughts with you in the coming months here on Story Addict. I’d love for you to tell me if you’ve read any of them, and what you thought (no spoilers please!) either over at Goodreads, on Twitter or Facebook, or in the comments below.
This novel was published in May 2019 and I’ve seen a steady stream of rave reviews come out about it ever since then. It sounds like an emotional, nostalgic read with plenty to say about recent social history in Australia.
Veronica calls it “the most heartbreakingly beautiful story of a shattered family ripped apart by tragedy yet holding it together for one child, Allegra.”
Vanessa said, “It’s like all the bests bits of growing up in Australia came flooding back and it was like a little stroll down memory lane.” Which sounds delightful!
Amanda from Mrs B’s Book Reviews had me intrigued with the social history aspects: “If you are looking for a comprehensive social history of 1970s Australia, with a particular focus on feminism, in its glorious but also ugly moments (domestic violence was rife at this time) Allegra in Three Parts is a good starting point.”
“I can split myself in two… something I have to do because of Joy and Matilde. They are my grandmothers and I love them both and they totally love me but they can’t stand each other.”
Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different.
And then there’s Rick who lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing. He’s trying to be a good father to Al Pal, while grieving the woman who links them all but whose absence tears them apart.
Readers use words such as ‘warm’, ‘sweet’, ‘charming’ and ‘hopeful’ when saying wonderful things about Joanna Nell’s debut novel. And quite frankly, after the global chaos that felt like 2019, I think I need a bit of hopeful charming in my life. I’m very much looking forward to getting lost in this story about two 79-year old women, one of whom is trying to channel her inner Helen Mirren, and their retirement village antics.
A moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and friendship, for anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Keeper of Lost Things and Three Things about Elsie.
It’s never too late to grow old disgracefully …
Prague 1938 and 1980; Melbourne 1980. This is a dual timeline narrative which has garnered very high praise in 2019. I’ve seen 5-star reviews from reviewers who are normally more conservative with their ratings. I don’t think I can not read this at some point.
The profoundly moving new novel from the critically acclaimed and Miles Franklin shortlisted author of PAST THE SHALLOWS and WHEN THE NIGHT COMES. A tender and masterfully told story of memory, family and love.
Favel Parrett’s deep emotional insight and stellar literary talent shine through in this love letter to the strong women who bind families together, despite dislocation and distance. It is a tender and beautifully told story of memory, family and love. Because there is still love. No matter what.
When I first heard of this book I assumed it was about bees and orange trees and thought it looked interesting but I’d get to it at some point. Then I saw a few articles about it float past my social media feeds and realised it’s the origin story of fairy tales! Set in 17th-century Paris! And fairy tales were not invented by the Brothers Grimm but as a feminist protest against the patriarchal society!
Now I HAVE to read it.
It’s 1699, and the salons of Paris are bursting with the creative energy of fierce, independent-minded women. But outside those doors, the patriarchal forces of Louis XIV and the Catholic Church are moving to curb their freedoms. In this battle for equality, Baroness Marie Catherine D’Aulnoy invents a powerful weapon: ‘fairy tales’.
This one just sounded like a whole bunch of wonderful, warm fun. I also love books set in 1980s Australia, mostly because it’s the decade of my childhood so things always seem simpler in retrospect.
It’s the summer of 1982. The Man from Snowy River is a box office hit and Paul Hogan is on the TV.
In the waters of Shelly Bay, four women find each other. They will survive shark sightings, bluebottle stings and heartbreak; they will laugh so hard they swallow water, and they will plunge their tears into the ocean’s salt. They will find solace and companionship in their friendship circle, and learn that love takes many forms.
These next three books I’ve included because I have read and loved their authors’ other books and would quite happily read a shopping list written by them, such is the quality of their writing.
I adored Greer Macallister’s novel, The Magician’s Lie so look out for any of her new books because I know I love her writing. The premise of Woman 99 sounds intriguing.
A vivid historical thriller about a young woman whose quest to free her sister from an infamous insane asylum risks her sanity, her safety and her life
Charlotte Smith’s future is planned to the last detail, and so was her sister’s – until Phoebe became a disruption. When their parents commit Phoebe to a notorious asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. Shedding her identity to become an anonymous inmate, “Woman Ninety-Nine,” Charlotte uncovers dangerous secrets. Insanity isn’t the only reason her fellow inmates were put away – and those in power will do anything to keep the truth, or Charlotte, from getting out.
7. Gulliver’s Wife, by Lauren Chater (Due April 2020)
Lauren Chater’s first, bestselling WWII novel, The Lace Weaver, was heart-breakingly wonderful. She’s going further back in time for her next novel, Gulliver’s Wife – to 1702. I’m very much looking forward to it!
Birth. Death. Wonder … One woman’s journey to the edge of love and loyalty from the bestselling author of The Lace Weaver
London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down.
8. The Dior Secret, by Natasha Lester (Due March 2020)
Natasha Lester is an absolute master of historical storytelling, especially when strong-willed, vivacious women and 20th-century fashion are involved. She puts out a new book around the same time every year and I usually have them on pre-order.
A wardrobe of Dior gowns, a secret kept for sixty-five years, and the three women bound forever by war… from the New York Times bestselling author of The French Photographer
The Dior Secret is an unforgettable story about the lengths people go to protect one another, and a love that, despite everything, lasts a lifetime.
Speculative fiction (Science fiction/fantasy)
I do love a quirky novel and Claire G. Coleman is fabulous at weaving quirkiness with political commentary in fantastical settings that are not what they seem. Her first novel, Terra Nullius, had so many twists that it was hard to describe to people without giving away key plot points. Given the brevity of the blurb for her second book, I suspect I’m in for the same sorts of shocks.
Shane Daniels and Romany Zetz have been drawn into a war that is not their own. Lives will be destroyed, families will be torn apart. Trust will be broken.
When the war is over, some will return to a changed world. Will they discover that glory is a lie?
Claire G. Coleman’s new novel takes us to a familiar world to ask what we have learned from the past. The Old Lie might not be quite what you expect.
This time travelling book spans 1965 – 2050. To be honest, I’m not really sure how I managed to miss reading this immediately after it came out in June 2019. It’s right up my alley and I’ve been watching others heap praise on it for months!
Meet Willa Waters, aged 8 . . . 33 . . . and 93.
On one impossible day in 1965, eight-year-old Willa receives a mysterious box containing a jar of water and the instruction: ‘One ocean: plant in the backyard.’ So she does – and somehow creates an extraordinary time slip that allows her to visit her future selves.
On one impossible day in 1990, Willa is 33 and a mother-of-two when her childhood self magically appears in her backyard. But she’s also a woman haunted by memories of her dark past – and is on the brink of a decision that will have tragic repercussions . . .
On one impossible day in 2050, Willa is a silver-haired, gumboot-loving 93-year-old whose memory is fading fast. Yet she knows there’s something she has to remember, a warning she must give her past selves about a terrible event in 1990. If only she could recall what it was.
Can the three Willas come together, to heal their past and save their future, before it’s too late?
These next few books are ones I know very little about, other than I love the sound of their premises, based on the blurbs. It’s always fun to pick a few total unknowns (unknown to me, at least!).
Award-winning author Sylvain Neuvel explores an immigration dystopia in The Test.
Britain, the not-too-distant future.
Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.
He wants his family to belong.
Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.
When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.
How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?
In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.
The residents of a sleepy mountain town are rocked by troubling visions of an alternate reality in this dazzling debut that combines the family-driven suspense of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere with the inventive storytelling of The Immortalists.
In the quiet haven of Clearing, Oregon, four neighbors find their lives upended when they begin to see themselves in parallel realities.
At first the visions are relatively benign, but they grow increasingly disturbing—and, in some cases, frightening. When a natural disaster threatens Clearing, it becomes obvious that the visions were not what they first seemed and that the town will never be the same.
14. Devolution, by Max Brooks (Due May 2020)
Max Brooks is the author of World War Z, probably the only zombie novel I’ve ever enjoyed. It was absolutely incredible and had me looking over my shoulder for days to make sure there wasn’t anything coming for me. It was that realistic.
I’m looking forward to being equally terrified by Devolution, which comes out in May next year. He appears to be using the same sort of format as World War Z (‘eyewitness’ accounts), but this time is tackling the legend of Bigfoot.
As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.
But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing—and too earth-shattering in its implications—to be forgotten.
Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us—and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it—and like none you’ve ever read before.