With almost 200,000 books published each year in the UK alone, it’s no wonder plenty of brilliant books don’t always get the attention they deserve. Which is why we’ve curated this collection of ‘hidden gems’ - novels we love that were published in recent years and may have slipped beneath your reading radar.
For historical fiction packed with powerful authenticity, they don’t come more moving than A More Perfect Union. Sparked by the experiences of the author’s great-grandparents, this tells the soul-stirring story of the love between a Black slave in Virginia and an Irish immigrant who fled famine in 1848.
Lovers of inventive fiction with quirky charm would do well to check-out The Jeweller, a haunting novel set in West Wales, and Eggshells, a magical, unsettling, darkly funny Dublin-set story about an orphan whose parents told her she was a Changeling. Flames is another gem with an enchanting otherworldly aura courtesy of the curious curse that afflicts the main character and its Tasmanian setting. It’s the kind of well-told tale that lingers long, as is The Driveway Has Two Sides - a truly captivating, read-in-one-sitting triumph of short fiction. Set on a one-village island off Cape Cod, and centred around beautiful stranger Delilah whose arrival sends life-changing ripples through the gossipy community, it’s short in length, but big on impact.
If you fancy a dose of feel-good fiction to warm your heart, Sofia Lundberg’s The Red Address Book is a beautiful - and entertaining - journey through an elderly woman’s life, from her youth modelling in Paris, through fleeing to America following the outbreak of WWII, to her present-day life in Stockholm. Or for suspenseful, easy-to-read noir centred around a troubled domestic milieu, try Lies Behind the Ruin, in which a British couple’s dream of a new life in France sours like grapes left too long on the vine.
For thought-provoking female-centred novels, try Patsy, House of Beauty, Sarong Party Girls and The Mermaid of Black Conch. Telling very different stories, in very different styles, and variously set in the Caribbean, Colombia and Singapore, each of these pack real punch and are books I’ll return to over and over.
Historical page-turners, quirky contemporary novels, cutting comedies and lingering literary vignettes - there should be something for all tastes in this diverse collection of hidden gems. You might just discover your new favourite writer among these treasures. At the very least, we’re certain you’ll find a host of books you’ll want to thrust into the hands of all your book-loving friends.