It’s that time of year again when I look back at the best books I’ve read over the last twelve months. And unlike last year, when I had so much difficulty narrowing down my choices, this year I found it very easy…
My favourite books of the year
The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
Not one book but six: The Game of Kings, Queens’ Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle and Checkmate. I don’t think anyone who has been following my blog all year will be surprised to see this series at the top of my list!
From my review of the final book, Checkmate: For anyone who has yet to read these books, I can promise you that although they’re not the easiest of reads, it’s definitely worth making the effort and getting to know Francis Crawford of Lymond, one of the most complex, charismatic, fascinating characters you’re ever likely to meet in literature. Working through the six books of the Lymond Chronicles has been one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime of reading.
The House of Niccolò by Dorothy Dunnett
Again I’m including six books here: Niccolò Rising, The Spring of the Ram, Race of Scorpions, Scales of Gold, The Unicorn Hunt and To Lie with Lions. There are actually eight in the series, but I haven’t finished Caprice and Rondo yet and still need to read Gemini.
From my review of The Spring of the Ram: One of the things I love about Dorothy Dunnett’s books is that they give me an opportunity to learn about people and places I might never have known anything about otherwise. Dunnett’s novels open up whole new worlds, focusing on periods of history and geographical locations that are usually ignored in historical fiction.
Other books I enjoyed this year
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman
From my review: Here Be Dragons is the first in Penman’s Welsh Princes trilogy and follows the lives of King John’s daughter, Joanna, and her Welsh husband, Llewelyn ab Iorweth (known as Llewelyn the Great)…The relationship between Joanna and Llewellyn forms a big part of the plot, but that’s not all this book is about. As well as romance, the story also includes political intrigue, battles, feuds, rivalry between brothers, betrayal and forgiveness.
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
From my review: From the wonderful opening line of this 1921 novel by Rafael Sabatini (“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad”) I could tell I was going to love Scaramouche! And I did – it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
From my review: It was good to read a novel that showed Cromwell not as a villain, but as an intelligent, charismatic, complex human being with both positive and negative qualities…Every little piece of information Mantel gives us, however trivial it may seem, helps to slowly build a full and vivid picture of daily 16th century life.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
From my review: A quick read and lots of fun too: a combination of swashbuckling adventure story, historical fiction and romance. It’s one of those novels where you sit down planning to just read one or two chapters and before you know it you’re halfway through the book!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
From my review: What makes this book so disturbing is that the type of community Atwood is writing about is not completely far-fetched or implausible. Many of the things she describes are things that have actually happened in some part of the world at some time in the past, or that might even still be happening at this moment, and so the depiction of Gilead is terrifyingly believable.
The Master of Verona by David Blixt
I finished reading this book on Christmas Eve, just in time for it to make an appearance on this list. I haven’t had a chance to post my thoughts on it yet, but I loved it and am looking forward to reading the sequel.
And these deserve a special mention too:
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
The Sultan’s Wife by Jane Johnson
The Conductor by Sarah Quigley
Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson
Have you read any of these? What are your favourite books of the year?