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.
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).
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.
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?
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.
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 🙂
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!