Love London Love Culture’s Favourite Books of 2021

Emma Clarendon selects some of her favourite reads of 2021 that helped her escape the real world for a few hours!

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey: while initially it took me a while to used to the style in which the story was written, I really did fall in love with the mythical and poetic style in which the plot between the fishman and the mermaid unfolded. The way in which Monique Roffey beautifully creates the characters and their story makes you feel like you are right there with them.

Breaking into Song by Adam Lenson: if you like me love musical theatre – then this is a real must read as it really it changes your perception of what musical theatre really means and how it is an ever evolving art form. The passion with which Lenson writes just sweeps you away and makes you fall in love with musical theatre all over again – but just as importantly it highlights the continuing need to push the boundaries of the form and support new work.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint: I love the fact that Greek mythology is springing into novels recently – not only because I’m fascinated by it but also because there is still many different interpretations that we can take away from it. This beautifully poetic take on the story of Theseus and the Minotaur gives a stronger voice to characters that are less seen in the original tale – namely  Princess of Crete  and what happened after she ran away from her home and family. Jennifer Saint has created a book that is filled with insight and detail that makes it difficult to put down.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow: for me, some of my favourite books have been when a lesser known character from a classic story is given a voice in a story of their own – and this one is one of my absolute favourites. Not only did it make me think about the character of Mary in a different light but it allowed me to feel as though I was delving deeper into the world that Jane Austen originally created – it felt like a very natural progression from Pride and Prejudice.

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago: highlighting a part of history that I was not aware of, Lucy Jago’s novel of intrigue and scandal is a deeply compelling read filled with plenty of twists and turns that kept me thoroughly engaged from start to finish. Set in the 17th century, the story follows that of two women caught in the centre of Thomas Overbury’s death – particularly that of Anne Turner whose involvement seemed to have been extremely deep. For a debut novel, it oozes in detail and imagination to bring the 17th century vividly to life – a must read for historical fiction fans.

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen: in all the biographies that I have read about Audrey Hepburn (and that is a lot), not many of them really have paid attention to her experiences of growing up in World War II – which I would have imagined to have had a profound effect on the person that she grew up to be. This one not only does this but also captures the perspective of war that is not fixated on Germany or Britain – highlighting the devastating impact the war had on other European countries – it is a real revelatory read.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman: filled with humour and twists aplenty, this brilliantly lively murder mystery was just a delight to read from start to finish. Set in a retirement village, the book follows a group of retirees who use their skills to solve a murder that happens on their very own doorstep. I have now got the second one to read – which I’m very excited about!

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