Best book club bets: the must-read books for winter

Best book club bets: the must-read books for winter

From twisty thrillers to period dramas, these 15 books will keep you spellbound as you rug up and stay warm inside.

Fabulous fiction

Girl A
Abigail Dean (HarperCollins)
This gripping novel is the story of Lex, a New York lawyer with a dark past. As a child Alexandra (Lex) escaped from her parents’ cult-like home (the “house of horrors”, said the media), freeing her siblings from years of abuse. The portrayal of this family, told from Lex’s perspective in the present and from snippets of the past, is captivating and powerful.

The Other Black Girl
Zakiya Dalila Harris (Bloomsbury)
In this witty novel about social tensions, Nella is delighted when another black employee is hired at the publishing company where she works, dreaming of someone to commiserate with about the boring seminars and lack of diversity. However, Hazel quickly becomes more popular and successful than Nella, and not quite the ally she’d hoped for.

Who Is Maud Dixon?
Alexandra Andrews (Tinder Press)
This fun read full of dramatic twists follows Florence, who is unhappy in her work as an editorial assistant in a New York publishing house. Then she lands her dream job, as a writer’s assistant to the anonymous author of a bestseller. While on a research trip to Morocco with her new boss, a life-changing opportunity presents itself.

Twisty thrillers

The Maidens
Alex Michaelides (Orion)
From the author of The Silent Patient comes an equally captivating thriller. Grieving psychotherapist Mariana is drawn in to the murder investigation of a Cambridge University student, part of a secret society assembled by a charming professor of ancient Greek literature … who also happens to be Mariana’s prime suspect.

The Push
Ashley Audrain (Michael Joseph)
This expertly crafted domestic thriller explores the fears new mothers experience and the effects
of intergenerational trauma through the story of Blythe and her young daughter, Violet. Blythe struggles to bond with her difficult child and suspects there’s something seriously wrong with Violet. Could she be evil, or is the mother flawed?


The Last Thing He Told Me
Laura Dave (Viper)
This mystery follows Hannah, who receives a note from her husband Owen just before he goes missing urging her to protect his daughter. Hannah and her stepdaughter team up, despite their rocky relationship, to find Owen and uncover the truth about his identity. Read it before it hits the small screen, starring Julia Roberts as Hannah.

A female perspective

Lisa Taddeo (Bloomsbury Circus)
Taddeo’s much anticipated fiction debut begins with a death that propels Joan on a road trip to find her half-sister, Alice. After Joan’s married boss, with whom she was having a relationship, shoots himself in the head, her rage for the many men who have wronged her bubbles up – with deadly consequences.

The Husbands
Chandler Baker (Hachette)
Baker’s latest takes a look at the division of labour in relationships. Nora, feeling burnt out and under-appreciated, is house-hunting when her and her husband find a desirable suburb where traditional gender roles have been switched. A local murder investigation, however, suggests that this seemingly perfect world is too good to be true.

The Hard Crowd
Rachel Kushner (Jonathan Cape)
In Kushner’s collection of essays, the acclaimed novelist catalogues her vast experiences in eloquent prose. From growing up in a part of San Francisco “where girls became strippers or cocktail waitresses” to researching her novel The Mars Room in correctional facilities and interviewing Italian political activist Nanni Balestrini, it’s a wild ride.

Australian stories

The Truth About Her
Jacqueline Maley (4th Estate)
When journalist Suzy exposes wellness blogger Tracey as a fraud, Tracey kills herself. A single mother, Suzy is already dealing with her own guilt, multiple love affairs and the loss of her job when Tracey’s mum Jan turns up. As Suzy discovers the truth about Tracey, she is forced into a reckoning of her own. A moving and thoroughly enjoyable read.

We Were Not Men
Campbell Mattinson (HarperCollins)
This powerful novel about brotherly love is the story of twins Jon and Eden, who are only nine when tragedy strikes. As they grow up, school, competitive swimming and falling for the same girl stretch their bond, but it never breaks. These characters, including the boys’ grandmother Bobbie, linger long after you’ve read the last page.

The Family Doctor
Debra Oswald (Allen & Unwin)
Oswald’s latest novel explores the domestic violence crisis. GP Paula is providing refuge to a friend and her friend’s daughter when they are murdered by the estranged husband. It’s the aftermath of this act of violence, and how it effects Paula’s judgment when another victim of abuse comes into her care, that makes this such a compelling page-turner.

Days gone by

Still Life
Sarah Winman (4th Estate)
From the author of Tin Man comes this captivating story about love and fate. Spanning four decades and set in Tuscany, Florence and London, it begins in 1944 with a chance meeting between young British soldier Ulysses and middle-aged art historian Evelyn, a fateful encounter that will shape Ulysses’ life for years to come.

Great Circle
Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday)
This epic drama follows a woman who defies tradition trying to realise her dreams. Marian Graves only ever wanted to be a pilot. In 1950, while trying to fly around the world, she disappears, prompting Hollywood actress Hadley Baxter to try to save her career by making a film about the aviator. A captivating novel about women charting their own course.

Malibu Rising
Taylor Jenkins Reid (Hutchinson)
Set during one night in 1983, this follows four siblings – Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit, the children of pop star Mick Riva – during “the party of the century” in Nina’s Malibu mansion. The flashbacks to their parents’ love story and the family’s history intensify as the party escalates, and things take a dramatic turn when secrets are spilled and the past crashes in.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale June 27. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.