LoveReading is thrilled to announce the launch of The Very Short Story Award 2019! If you think you have a story we'll love, click here to find out more and how to enter:Find out more
Our high-quality Family Drama selection offers the heart-breaking and heart-warming conflicts and dramas directly from the hearth, telling the stories of these families that have been struck by tragedy, conflict and drama and their struggle to survive intact.
Thirty very different pieces about extraordinary women, keenly observed and astute. They cover the spectrum from triumphant to pathetic, sad to humerous, surprising to surreal. There is the woman who unravels, another who grows wings, one who secretly paints her grass green, one talks to ducks, one slips through a timeless crack and another is put on a shelf. Some will irritate, others make you laugh or cry. Do not read too many together else you will lose the flavour. I would believe it to be a good bedside book, read two or three a night and take the next day pondering and digesting them before the next batch. I also believe it would make an excellent Christmas present for any woman any age.
Smart, taut and fabulous, Trap really does deliver a first-class read. Following quite beautifully on from Snare (and yes you do need to have read Snare first) can I just mention the covers, they are stunning in their simplicity and how they link to the novels. Set in Reykjavik just after the volcanic eruption in 2011, Sonja discovers that running away doesn’t solve anything, but declaring war can be just as deadly. Lilja Sigurdardottir ensures sharp shocks of chapters hit with increasing energy. The translation by Quentin Bates is again so fully complete, I existed in this Icelandic world without question. My feelings hovered with regards to the characters, swooping one way and then the other, which felt entirely right, as innocence and guilt are so often two sides of the same coin. A short book Trap may be, it’s also a towering powerhouse of read and I gobbled it up in one intense sitting. Please Orenda, may we have some more?!
A lovely, fascinating, proper treat of a read set during the Blitz of World War Two. The Brogan family sit at the heart of A Ration Book Christmas which is the start of a new saga series. Concentrating on sisters Jo and Mattie, we see their lives unfold as the bombing raids take their toll. Jean Fullerton brings to life the war on the home front, the small details and descriptions fully set the scene, supporting the storyline beautifully. I took this close knit family to my heart, from little rascal Billy through to unshakable Gran Queenie. Each and every character feels rounded, real, tangible. I let myself simply sink into the story, and it wrapped itself cosily around me. Romance, gossip, scandal, pain, friendship and love make their mark and I was left wanting to know more about this family. A Ration Book Christmas is food for the soul, it’s simply deliciously readable and enjoyable.
An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I’ve not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.
Stinging, compelling, dynamic… excellent. After Paula’s husband dies she discovers she may not have known him quite as well as she thought. Life takes a vicious slap at Paula and her only chance is to come out swinging. As I read I felt as though the words were shaping into life, as though this tale could be happening right now, at this very moment. There is an immediacy, a powerful edge to the storyline that feels so very real and wonderfully different too. Glasgow sits centre stage, vibrantly punchy and full of life. Michael J. Malone has created a dramatic and thrilling family tale that just sings with intensity. I thoroughly enjoyed picking my way along the razor wire of uncertainty that my thoughts and feelings teetered on. After He Died is an explosive tale, one that takes hold, bites, and doesn’t let go.
A dynamic, powerfully expressive novel that feels so real, you could be conjuring it to life as you read. Angel saves the life of English teacher Nina, later that night Angel turns from saviour to adversary when she and her blood soaked brother turn up at Nina’s door. Each chapter is headed by one of the main characters, they feel vividly real, almost touchable, and their pain and anguish sliced into my thoughts. Cass Green created an unexpected atmosphere as energetic whip-fast chapters gently, almost quietly revealed background information, which allowed my mind to process the action while sifting, analysing, questioning. Good and bad may be seen as opposites, yet there are times when lines and edges blur, creating a stimulating storyline that just crackles with tension. Don’t You Cry surprised me (which I always love) and left me feeling very satisfied indeed. Just make sure the edge of your seat is comfortable, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time on it!
A wonderfully shiver-inducing wormhole of a read, the possibilities opened up before me while the story snapped at my heels. Elle returns home after letting her house out to slight but notable differences, the house no longer feels welcoming, small shifts have occurred, has she inadvertently allowed danger in? The prologue is quietly unsettling and sets the tone beautifully. Lucy Clarke writes with an exquisite subtlety, each layer thin as a slice of paper painstakingly constructed into a looming brooding tower. Taunting ‘Previously’ chapters lie in wait, prepared to catch you unawares, and then there are the chapters from the past, allowing knowledge freedom to hint, prod, stir. The characters felt so very real, they slid into my mind, taking up residence, making mistakes, regretting, living their lives. The ending felt real, felt right, felt perfect. You Let Me In is a razor-sharp, smartly provocative tale, and I loved every single second of it - highly recommended.
A deeply emotional, dramatic, and refreshingly original story for young (or older) adults, set in the late 1990’s in Australia. Teenager Sam’s mother dies in his arms on New Year’s Eve, mourning and traumatised, he moves in with his estranged Aunt and cousins, and his life is forever altered. The first chapter simply and vividly set the scene, I could look around me, almost touch, smell, hear my surroundings. Claire Zorn writes with eloquent empathy, yet doesn’t hide from heartache. As I read I could see Sam’s pain as a stinging physical entity. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the words caught hold of me, picked me up and ran. Sam’s raw emotions scorch the pages, he is the focus, yet the surrounding characters are fascinating in their own right. I adored the ending, where it left me, how it left me feeling. At times hope seems so very far away, yet it is very much a part of this story. ’One Would Think The Deep’ is a beautifully written tale, tender yet penetrating and powerful, it offered itself to me and let me sink into its depths.
The most hilarious debut you will read this year. Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what's best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a 'normal' family Christmas. They can't agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did - and it's too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He's a rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends - where this story starts - with a tearful, frightened, call to the police... But what happened? They said they'd all be adults about this...
A feverishly seductive story, it whispers, cajoles, beckons from history until the past forcefully assaults the present. When Ruth’s estranged father dies she returns to Edinburgh and discovers the hidden diary of her ancestor Thomas Erskine. Fascinated by his story Ruth finds herself in extraordinary danger when she starts to delve into the past. The prologue offers a warning, while the first chapter thoroughly sets the scene in 1760 as 10 year old Thomas witnesses a murder and sees the shadow of the dead man as it leaves the body. Barbara Erskine has based the story on her own family history, she paints a picture with a beautiful delicate balance and inner strength as the drama starts to unfold. Ruth’s story stands resolute in this time, and with a delicious shiver of fear I let the story take me where it willed. I always knew where I was, even as the past pushed ever closer. Spellbinding and gorgeously readable, as all becomes clear The Ghost Tree really is the most perfect title - highly recommended.
This year Carolyn Mackler will re-release her beloved coming-of-age novel The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things in a newly updated edition. Now she drops readers right back into the hilarious, haphazard life of Virginia Shreves in this long-awaited sequel! Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Dumplin'.
A sparkling, witty, occasionally rather sexy debut that made me nod in agreement and splutter with laughter. 30 year old Polly works for Posh! magazine, she excels in making the aristocracy look spectacular on paper, however her love life is wilting dramatically… and she needs a Plus One for her best friend’s wedding. Polly quickly settled into a fabulous friend status, we sat together gossiping, I giggled, winced, and regularly raised my eyebrows as I read. Sophia Money-Coutts has a wonderfully light touch, she also keeps laughing gas in her pen, and isn’t afraid to use it. I alternated in reading bits out loud to my husband (who was as shocked as I’d hoped he’d be), and just sinking into, and enjoying the story. There is a heart-felt reality kick along the way, however for me this was an outrageously feel-good read. ‘The Plus One’ became my best friend while I read it, very funny, sometimes shocking, always extremely entertaining.
Tragedy Begins at Home
Whether it’s Barbara Taylor Bradford’s window into the dark secrets of dynastic powerhouses, or the hard realities of Allison Pearson’s writing: the incisively humourous observations of Nick Hornby, or the light touch of Charlotte Bingham: the engrossing passion of Jojo Moyes, or the captivating worlds conjured by Jodi Picoult and Daisy Waugh, the range of fantastic stories in the Family Drama section is almost endless. Luckily our unique expert reviews and hand-picked recommendations are here to help match you with your perfect next read. Sign up to our monthly emails to stay in touch with the latest output from warm, wise Elizabeth Buchan, insightful Kate Atkinson, sensory-stimulating Joanna Harris, huge-scale Sidney Sheldon, magical Alice Hoffman and so many more in the varied family of fantastic authors of the genre.
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A selection of authors who will feature in this Lovereading category include: