Last Updated on August 26, 2022 by Editorial Staff
By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club editor
These days I read a lot of books. I’ve always enjoyed reading but for several years I pretty much stopped reading any fiction. But recently I’ve been reading as much fiction as non-fiction. I’m reading some amazing books. Often I’m reading them because I’m interviewing their author for my podcast. I’ve read some brilliant books because of this, that otherwise I might never have encountered.
Here are some of my recent fiction reads which I think would make brilliant summer reads in 2022. I love reading books with strong female characters. If they’re in midlife and beyond, even better!
This is the new best seller! I have to confess I haven’t actually finished this book at time of writing but I’m absolutely loving it. I interviewed the author Julie Owen Moylan before she even had a book deal and now she’s a best-selling novelist. I interviewed Julie on my Magnificent Midlife Podcast and one of the wonderful things she said was how important it was to make the very most of your heartbeats.
Listen to Julie Owen Moylan on the Magnificent Midlife Podcast
She has certainly done that by creating this book. I really want to know how on earth she came up with the idea for it. I have lived in New York and it is beautifully atmospheric, set as it is in Manhattan switching effortlessly between time periods and with beautifully crafted female characters. I really care about those characters and the book if a real page-turner. Perfect summer reading.
This is a beautifully evocative book that introduced a whole new genre to me – cli-fi – climate fiction. It imagines a world not so far in the future where sea levels have risen to such an extent that it is only the occupants of a very high house who can hope to survive.
It’s not an easy book to read, but it really makes you think, especially about how we all may be sleepwalking into a climate disaster. It’s about relationships, the importance of family and who we might want to save and how we would do that. This book was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award in 2021.
I found this book very unsettling! So the title is perfect. It centers on 51-year-old twins Jeannie and Julius who live on the absolute fringes of society and whose very existence is precarious beyond belief. The book beautifully describes just how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks, slipping from just about surviving to almost not.
At the same time, it’s a story of love, resilience and survival. And of a woman finding herself in midlife. It’s also a beautiful evocation of the English countryside. This book was the winner of the Costa Novel Award 2021 and shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021.
I came 25 years late to this book! And I only read it because I wanted to read the new book about Rachel which had just been published. I haven’t read the second one yet but I really enjoyed Rachel’s Holiday and if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do! It’s a real journey of self-discovery and coming to terms with reality when what you really want to do is stay ‘safe’ in your pretend world.
This was an unusual book choice for me but another one that was shortlisted for both the Costa Novel Award and Booker Prize in 2021. I found it a fascinating account of 1950s Cardiff and the eclectic mix of people living in Tiger Bay and working around the docks. Or rather, trying to survive in Tiger Bay, because it wasn’t easy for any of them, but especially if you weren’t white.
The book is based on a true and quite horrendous miscarriage of justice, brought movingly to life and told with great humanity and intelligence. I got to the end of it thinking, thank goodness things have changed, but also aware that the kind of prejudice described wasn’t that far away in today’s society.
I came late to this book too and only ‘read’ it because it was free with my Audible subscription. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a captivating and escapist listen. It was also a good reminder of how our minute by minute choices can influence our lives quite dramatically. It is read by Carey Mulligan who was delightful company in my ears on many of my walks.
This was my first introduction to the writing of Elif Shafak and I absolutely loved it. It was another book that I part listened to on Audible and part read on my Kindle. It’s a magical tale set on the island of Cyprus, mixing history with fantasy and bringing the sights, smells and textures of Cyprus to life like nothing else. If you want to be whisked away on a mystical adventure, while learning more about this once divided (not so long ago) nation, this is the perfect book for that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations and decide to give some of them a go. They’re all pretty amazing I reckon. If you have reading recommendations, feel free to send me those at info @ themuttonclub.com. Happy reading!
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Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.