Twelve months ago we agreed we were glad to see the end of 2020 but, unfortunately we are just as pleased to say goodbye to 2021. Lockdowns, frustrations and uncertainty have prevailed, but at least books were still being written and published and read. Perhaps it was because we had the time to take note, or perhaps good old-fashioned reading was hitting the popularity stakes over social media, but there seemed to be a plethora of new and exciting books available in 2021, well, more than usual crossing our radars anyway.
We discussed the literary year at our end-of-year dinner, which again, we were lucky to be able to hold. This year we chose Le Plonc in Nelson for some fine French cuisine. Between courses we contemplated our contemporary new fiction focus as of late.
We had began the year with a murder amongst friends, and a novel of warnings, then moved into relationships marred by Roman mythical creatures, imagined murderers, and sisters with confused identities. Accidental communities faced the threat of death, and reproductive control, and the changing of history. The analysis of the modern person was certainly present in these titles and gave us much to critique.
For instance in a year where romance was basically absent from our book choices, our attention was drawn instead to two relationships of a different type, both unusual sibling attractions. July & September in Sisters and Charles & Camilla in The Secret History had complex connections that would keep the most analytical reader occupied!
We agreed Sylvia Plath was the most interesting author, that Bina had too many punchy one-liners to name our favourite and that the books could be summarised by containing a number of slow-burning horrors that gave us many shocking moments of note.
Here are the rest of our bests:
Jodie: Esther – Bell Jar
Rachel: Richard – The Secret History
Jo: Vesta – Death In Her Hands
Most memorable setting:
Jodie: Loch – Summerwater
Rachel: Loch – Summerwater
Jo: Cottage – Death In Her Hands
Jodie: Eddie – Bina: A Novel In Warnings
Rachel: O’Brien – Nineteen Eighty Four
Jo: Psychologist – Blue Ticket
Runner up best book:
Jodie: Sisters – Daisy Johnson
Rachel: Sisters – Daisy Johnson
Jo: Death In Her Hands – Otessa Moshfegh
Book of the year:
Jodie: The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Rachel: The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Jo: The Secret History – Donna Tartt