The top five female fiction novels to read this summer
We might all be dreaming of the sand between our toes and the sun of our faces, but whether you’re going on holiday or not, there’s no better way to kick back and relax than with a good summer read. From gripping thrillers to uplifting and feel-good romances, we’ve got the top five fiction novels you need to read this summer.
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Pearse’s spine-tingling debut novel takes you as far from a sunshine beach read as you could possibly get, but the gripping plot line and Gothic imagery in this twisty thriller make it well worth it. The atmospheric page-turner follows Elin Warner who finds herself in a beautiful hotel in the Swiss Alps, formerly an abandoned sanatorium, in the midst of a threatening storm. But when guests start to disappear, Elin soon realises they’re all in much more danger than she ever imagined. A truly engrossing read that will keep you guessing right till the end.
Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
In the modern world of dating where there’s so much focus on glossy filters, dating apps and instant physical attraction, this book is a refreshing take on the power of connection wrapped up in a heart-warming love story. We meet Alfie and Alice, two strangers who are both inpatients on the same hospital ward. Despite Alfie’s best attempts to get to know her, Alice can’t bring herself to pull back the hospital curtain after suffering serious burns. Houghton’s debut leaves us with a powerful life lesson about learning to love yourself, and allowing yourself to love and be loved in return.
Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan
Set in America’s trendy Long Island, Langan’s novel shows the dark side of picture-perfect suburban life. When the Wilde family moves in, they unsettle everything at the heart of their neighbours’ upper middle class lives as jealousy, childhood trauma, social hierarchy and fear runs rife through the neighbourhood. The search for a missing daughter sends simmering tensions rising to the surface as one mother’s word is used against the other’s in a bitter public war.
What Planet Can I Blame This On? by Ellie Pilcher
Pilcher’s novel follows Krystal Baker who mourns everything wrong in her life before turning to the stars for answers. This light-hearted romantic comedy explores one of the most well-known astrological events that looms largest in our cultural imagination, Saturn return. Approximately 29 years after your birth, the return of Saturn is thought to mark major movements in your life and that’s what this debut explores perfectly as Krystal grapples with the seismic changes taking place around her.
The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
First written in Italian, before being translated to English by Lucy Rand, Messina’s unforgettable novel is a deeply moving read that is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings. The story is inspired by a real telephone box in north-east Japan, where visitors can hold one-way conversations to feel connected to deceased loved ones.
Messina tells the story of a woman, Yui, who loses her family in the Tōhoku tsunami and travels to the wind phone, where she meets a widower and his daughter who have experienced similar losses. The writing is beautifully simple, ensuring each word carries the weight it deserves. Yui’s story and that of the wind phone is as uplifting as it is heart-breaking, exploring the depths of grief, love and the power of hope – a must read.