Author Mary-Anne O’Connor is no stranger to a good read. With Gallipoli Street, an Anzac tale of three families whose destinies are entwined by war, tragedy and passion, at number 13 in our Australia’s Top 100 2016 list, we trust her judgement…
- Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey.
One of my all-time favourite reads, Jasper Jones is the tale of a teenage boy called Charlie Bucktin who lives in a country town in Australia in 1965. It’s an incredibly moving story but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny which is probably the main reason I enjoyed it so much- it’s an emotional roller-coaster. My cup of tea. The only warning is that you’ll need to be prepared to sit up late. Put on the kettle and break out the Christmas chocs; you won’t be able to put this one down.
- Big, Little, Lies, by Liane Moriarty.
Fast becoming my favourite author, Moriarty breaks new ground with this incredibly clever novel that fairly crackles with razor sharp wit. Anyone who’s ever been a parent in a playground will get just how observant and, might I add, hilariously accurate Moriarty can be at times, and her multiple character point of views are masterfully done. I had author envy with this one. A rollicking read for the poolside but don’t forget to watch the kids…
- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
This has to be, hands-down, the most outlandish, melodramatic piece of literature ever penned as we follow the fortunes of Jane Eyre, poor, penniless and plain, across windswept Victorian England to the grand estate of the eccentric Mr. Rochester. If you’ve never got around to reading this tale then all I can say is put on your sun bonnet and grab an embroidered hanky for this mind boggling, heart wrenching first-ever piece of feminist literature. Sublime.
- The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
This may seem an odd choice amongst my other selections but I quite literally gripped this novel like Excalibur when I first read it, so it has to make the er… cut. An extraordinary tale that takes the reader back to times of King Arthur, The Mists of Avalon re-writes this old, manly tale from a female perspective. It will make you re-think history as you fall back through time with every vivid, spellbinding page. More than a little magic and more than a little shocking at times, this is one for the hammock, people. Just give your eyes a rest from all that ancient mist occasionally and remember to soak in the present-day sun.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding.
I have a confession to make: I am Bridget Jones. I think Fielding must have channelled me from afar or followed me around in dark sunglasses when she wrote this novel. So funny and so relatable, Bridget Jones’s Diary fairly jumped off the shelves when released, and straight into our hearts. I literally laughed out loud on nearly every page and, yes, it is better than the movie. Just don’t read it in public. People will think you’ve had four wines today.
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
There’s a reason Harper Lee’s classic novel has stood the test of time and still remains at the top of booklists today and it can be summed up in two words: Atticus Finch. Compassionate, wise and patient, he’s one of the few voices of reason in a small town in the deep south during the 1950’s as he tries to fight racism and ignorance in the court rooms. All of this is witnessed by his children, Jem and Scout, and perhaps it’s having their perspective that truly moves the reader the most. ‘It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.’ You’ll need another hanky. Sniff.
- Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta
I love a good coming-of-age story and this little gem whisked me off to happy reading land like a stiff summer sea-breeze. It’s the tale of an Australian-Italian family in Sydney and what happens when some secrets come out of closets and others remain closed. Refreshing, uplifting and heart-warming, it’s bound to touch your heart and maybe break it a little too, faster than you can say ‘Mamamia!’
- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
Jane, Jane, Jane, whatever were you thinking when you gave us Mr. Darcy? You’ve made women swoon for centuries, hopelessly in love with a rather pompous man in riding britches who says things like ‘you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’ Maybe it’s the top hats, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because we all picture Colin Firth in a wet shirt when we read it for the thousandth time. A perfect lazy read.
- The Other Side of the Story, by Marion Keyes
You could really pick up any of Marion Keyes books and have a lovely summer’s afternoon but I chose this as it was my first taste of her work and I fell head over heels in love with it at the time. Keyes always manages to effortlessly walk that fine line between humour, romance and drama and her stories are so easy to read; you really feel like you’re just sunbaking and chatting to an Irish chick who’s a real crack! The queen of chick-lit, to be sure.
- Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
The character of Josephine March lit up my childhood and actually inspired me to be a writer, so it’s little wonder I like to go back and visit with her sometimes. Courageous, outrageous and just plain contagious, our Jo is a rule-breaker: not marrying the rich guy, not giving up on a literary career in a male dominated era, putting her love for her family above everything else…what more can I say? Don’t even bother with the hanky though. Buy a box of tissues- you’re going to need them.