Best Romance/Life Lit/Womens Lit/Rural Fiction of 2016

This is genre that I don’t not read a huge amount of – as readers of my blog my have gathered I am not fond of the bodice ripper style of romance – where the  passive woman must be rescued by arrogant rich and possessive “lord” or the like.  I prefer my romance to be more realistic, to have some social commentary, to have strong women and certainly not gratuitous sex scenes.

 

So it may surprise you ( it did me) that I am one of the top four reviewers of romance in the Australian Women Writers Challenge (Brenda is by far the biggest reviewer). Here are my top six romance/life lit/rural romance/women’s literature reads of 2016. All  are so different in style and narrative, all are equally as good to read and will resonate with many women’s life experiences.

 

Journey's End

Journey’s End

Jennifer Scoullar

I adore Jennifer Scoullar’s writing – she expertly  weaves contemporary issues into her narratives-  the natural environment, conservation and re -wilding among her themes ( and a little romance).

 

Other Side of the SeasonThe Other Side of the Season

Jenn J McLeod

Jenn J McLeod weaves wonderful tales that are set in regional Australia. Jenn’s latest book is complex with sensitively written contemporary issues regarding identity, family, truth and abuse of children in care, gently woven into the multi layered narrative. Jenn’s gentle approach lets readers enjoy the narrative and mysteries absorbing the issues without schoolmarmish lessons being given.

 

the-drifter

The Drifter

Anthea Hodgson

Anthea Hodgson struck gold with her first release: The Drifter.  Anthea reflects on survivors guilt in a moving, fast paced most enjoyable coming of age read that ticks all the boxes. The big questions are asked here – what makes a good life, a good death?

 

love-at-first-flight

Love at First Flight

Tess Woods

Tess Woods has written an evocative narrative that will resonate with many  –   a story of spousal love, family, wistfulness, lust, consequences and redemption.   A very contemporary story full of realistic characters and hard decisions.

Precious Things

Precious Things

Kelly Doust

Intelligent, engaging, and brilliantly observational of women’s lives and rights at various points in history; all individual stories connected by their relationship to one piece of extraordinary cloth – very well plotted and visually stunning, intelligently written – excellent. Not the light fluffy read I thought I was getting 🙂

the-rarest-thing

The Rarest Thing

Deborah O’Brien

And last but by no means least – For me the overarching theme in this narrative is one of the feminists’ struggle for equal opportunities in education, the workplace and …life and relationships in 1960’s and beyond. O’Brien exposes some heartbreaking criminal behaviour in this novel (no spoilers here)…sadly behaviours like this have not been eliminated in our so called enlightened age. A multilayered drama – with romance.

*Reflecting on my romance reads of 2016 – I surprised myself by just how many I had indeed read! Not one of the above is stylistically or thematically similar – what a great collection!

 

 

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Post Script: Love at First Flight – Tess Woods

love-at-first-flight

Love at First Flight

Tess Woods

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752647

 

Description:

What if the love of your life is not your husband? A compelling novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

 

‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.’

 

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

 

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of avoiding. As the repercussions hit friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

 

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

 

PRAISE FOR LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT:

 

‘Love at First Flight is no light romp in the hay. It’s a mature, finely drawn effort that examines the emotions and motives behind an affair – and, ultimately, its ramifications. I dare you to resist’ – Jennifer Ammoscato, author of Dear Internet: It’s Me Avery

 

 

My View:

More than chick lit – perhaps this fits best in the new sub-genre “life lit”?

 

A very impressive debut that will connect on so many levels – this is life – real, honest, ugly at times. Steamy, personal, HONEST. (Tess Woods where did you get you get the idea for this one?)  I don’t think I have read anything that tackles a woman’s personal life crisis/ her emotional dilemmas quite like this.

 

The dual perspectives – Mel’s and Matt’s provide great insight. The characters are credible if not a bit uncomfortable to read at times.

 

Despite this definitely not being a genre I usually favour – this had me staying up late to finish – read in one sitting.

 

“The verb love is what counts, not the feeling of love. When you feel love, it’s selfish, it’s just for you and it affects nobody but you. But when you act love, you committing the act of loving somebody. Do you understand the concept?” p 290.

 

Do you?

 

Read the book and discover the depth of real meaning, real feeling and real life… in these words.