Because there’s nothing nicer on a chilly, winter's evening than a night in with a good book.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
This little gem of a book came to light thanks to Persephone (who reprint works by neglected (mostly) female writers) – and it is that wonderful thing: a truly life-affirming read. Dowdy, downtrodden governess Miss Pettigrew is sent the wrong address by her agency – and finds herself drawn into the madcap world of the glamorous Miss LaFosse. Set in beautifully-evoked 1930s London, what we love the most about this fairy tale romance is its joyful, hopeful message that it’s never to late to start living.
The Lido by Libby Page
The lido in question is in Brixton – and it’s threatened with closure. Local journalist Kate is eager for a story – and fixes upon long-time swimmer Rosemary as the heart of her reportage. As they are drawn together to save the lido, their respective loneliness unfurls: Kate is lost in the maelstrom of London; Rosemary is lost after the death of her husband. Tears are inevitable, but so, too, is a warm glow. Remember how you feel after watching 'It’s a Wonderful Life'? This is the literary equivalent.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
This novel couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s 2006 and bright-but-uncertain student Greer’s dawning awareness of inequality is supercharged when feminist icon Faith Frank speaks at her college. But can working for Faith (and the real world) live up to Greer’s lofty ideals? Spoiler: obviously not, but her story is a gripping one. With wit, warmth and an all-seeing eye Wolitzer takes on the landscape of contemporary feminism.
The Modern Romance
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Rooney arrived in a blaze of glory with her prizewinning debut Conversations with Friends, Normal People features two clever millennials negotiating the age-old conundrum of being young and in love. Wealthy misfit Marianne and poor-but-clever Connell are mismatched, star-crossed lovers and their will-they-won't-they tale will keep you gripped. Rooney's observation and ear for dialogue are second to none: so sharp they glitter like a modern-day Austen.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to admire (or like – she’d be your friend, right?) Michelle Obama any more, the lawyer, former first lady and mother writes her autobiography. It gives a glimpse into the psyche of this remarkable woman (brilliant, ambitious, mind-boggling hardworking: 5am start so you can exercise when you work, have two young children and your husband’s in another city, anyone?) and her marriage. Put it on your Christmas list now.