I don’t know about you, but as soon as the clocks go back, the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is go back out again. Sure, I have yoga classes and office Christmas parties (I know, right? IN NOVEMBER!) to attend and I’ll probably have fun when I get there. But, let’s face it, they don’t offer much opportunity to wear a chunky jumper and slippers or warm my hands on a mug of hot chocolate. Thankfully, curling up with a good book does.
So turn up the heating, put your phone on silent and forget the outside world with these cosy reads:
Hallowe’en might be done and dusted for another year but the dark evenings are still perfect for a good old spooky story. Published by horror specialists, Hammer, The Greatcoat is a proper spine-tingler. 1950s housewife, Isabel, is alone in her chilly flat whilst her husband is at work one winter night. But she soon finds she’s not alone at all when she discovers a young RAF pilot tapping on her window…
Dunmore’s novella is a ghost story clearly inspired by Henry James’s classic The Turn of the Screw and is a fantastically creepy and atmospheric read.
Cold Light begins with a televised memorial for Chloe, a local teen who drowned ten years ago in an apparent suicide pact with her boyfriend. But as Chloe’s old school friends, Laura and Emma, watch on, the novel quickly delves in to the dark events that led to the tragedy and the secrets that they’ve both been hiding ever since.
In Laura, Chloe and Emma, Ashworth captures perfectly the intensity and cruelty of friendship between teenage girls and the crippling insecurities that come with being 14-years-old in a dysfunctional family. At times it’s a grim and disturbing read – the relationship between Chloe and her predatory older boyfriend, Carl, is particularly unsettling for its familiarity – but one that’s also full of sharp humour.
If you fancy escaping somewhere completely different, why not give Boyle’s tales from an isolated island off the coast of Santa Barbara a read? San Miguel tells the stories of three women, 50 years apart, who settle there. Maranatha and her teenage daughter, aspiring actress Edith, despise the prison-like island and resent their dominant husband and father for his role in keeping them there. Years later, idealistic newcomer Elise feels quite differently, relishing the solitude that San Miguel offers.
Boyle is an absolute master of richly drawn characters and, in San Miguel, he creates three female protagonists with impressive depth. But the island itself also figures large throughout the novel as a fourth character: windswept, rugged and impossible to tame.
You’re bound to have heard of The Snow Child by now: it was championed by Richard & Judy’s Book Club and has quickly become a bestseller, with its striking blue and white cover recognisable from the shelves of bookshops on every high street. And rightly so. It’s a wonderful book.
Ivey’s debut novel – inspired by a Russian fairy tale – is a magical tale of loss, loneliness and ultimately hope, set in the Alaskan wilderness. In despair, childless couple Mabel and Jack, build a child from the snow, only for it to vanish and a little girl to mysteriously appear in their lives. The Snow Child is at once heartbreaking and enchanting and is full of beautiful descriptions of the bleak and desolate landscape.