Everyone’s doing it so naturally I decided I must as well. This list was to be my ten favourite novels of 2014 (given I don’t read non-fiction). However… I actually struggled. I came up with my first six easily. But the remaining four were far more difficult. And in the end I had to stop at eight because those that came after were too close to call.
Interestingly most of the novels on my list probably fall into the ‘L’ for literature field rather than my beloved crime fiction / thriller / mystery genre. And my final decision was based on a combination of my Goodreads ratings AND those that have ‘stayed’ with me since.
So, without further ado – my favourite novels of 2014 – in alphabetical order (via author’s name)*:
After Kali’s mother Elena dies she sets off to learn why her mother was so secretive about her past. Kali soon learns Elena once had a great passion for whales and had committed her life to studying them and their behaviour. This of course leads Kali to ask why her mother left that life and never spoke about it again. This melancholy and beautiful novel just reeled me in and kept me enchanted until the very end.
This young-adult novel – the third in the Mickey Bolitar series – was HUGELY entertaining. I hadn’t read its predecessors but it was like donning my favourite (and most comfortable) sweatshirt. I absolutely loved the characters and likened it to the TV show Veronica Mars as the novel features a small team of high school kids who investigate a series of ‘cases’ some of which centre around Mickey’s own family.
‘Voice’ (the voice of the narrator/s or story teller/s) is all-important to me and in Davis’s debut novel she nails that of all three of her characters. Millie Bird’s father has just died. Her mother wasn’t coping so abandoned Millie in a department store where the 7 year old remained for several days awaiting her mother’s return. There she befriends 87 year old Karl on the run from his aged care facility and with her neighbour, the grumpy 82 year old Agatha, the unlikely trio embark on a cross-country trip to track down Millie’s mother. The informal and conversational style of prose would have easily won me over – if the characters hadn’t already done so.
A novel about the Cooke family and Rosemary, who’s now at University coming to terms with her family’s history and the loss of her sister and disappearance of her brother. Beautifully written, this is a novel about family, relationships, love and – very importantly – regret. Deservedly short-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize. And it made me cry.
This is arguably my favourite book of the year. We spend the novel in the head of 82 year old Maud who’s suffering from dementia and obsessed with the disappearance of her friend (Elizabeth). She’s also reminded of the disappearance of her older sister 70 years before. Healey really nails Maud’s voice. She’s beautifully written; charismatic, frustrating, sympathetic and quite hilarious. Maud has an awareness of her condition but isn’t overwhelmed by it. I found comfort in this novel as my father suffered from dementia and – like Maud – had no ability to retain new information. I like to think that he too was unable to mull on his own misfortune for any length of time.
A well-received novel about love and obsession. Joe’s a bookshop manager and becomes immediately smitten when Beck enters his store. This is a very cleverly written novel and Kepnes (through Joe) casually unfurls details about Joe’s obsessive behaviour when he starts stalking Beck. You offers readers something very different and (for me) was borderline excellent.
My infatuation with this semi-fictional novel (fictional account about a time in the life of American (horror) author Shirley Jackson) surprised the hell out of me. Not a lot actually happens in this book but Merrell provides insight into Jackson’s life and her writing. She touches on love and fidelity and examines the role we play (and the role we believe we play) in the lives of others. To partially quote my review, it’s stylistically written and quietly addictive.
Subtle and seductively written, Parrett’s language is almost lyrical. This is the story of a Danish seaman working on board a vessel bound for the Antarctic who enters the life of a young girl and the kindred spirit they share. In my review I said this book is about people coming into our lives when we most need them.
If you check out my Goodreads’ reviews you’ll see I have a lot of other 4 star (and the occasional 5 star) books. There were a lot of runners-up but if I really have to choose those books which touched me most…it’d be these.
What have been your favourite books of the year? Any of these interest you?
* The link to the full review is in the title of each.
UPDATE – DECEMBER 2015… my favourite read of this year is Sofie Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep, which was published in 2014 and, as I’m a stickler for truth, justice and the… ummm.. Australian way, I feel I need to add it in!