Books for Christmas: Fiction 

The best books to read or give this Christmas - whether you're a fan of the classics, or the Collins sisters. 

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Funny reads

According to Yes - Dawn French

A witty and quintessentially Dawn French take on contemporary family life. Bursting with flawed characters, mishaps and jokes, and described by one reviewer as a 'giant hug of a book', Dawn's third novel firmly establishes her as an author of fine fiction.

Under Major Domo Minor - Patrick deWitt

Patrick de Witt became our literary hero with his Booker-shortlisted cowboy road trip The Sisters Brothers - like Wes Anderson or the Coen brothers, he has an originality and wit that set him apart. His new novel is a crazy love story narrated in droll, distinctive voices, with elements of old European fairy tale, gothic horror and madcap adventure. If it that sounds surreal, you haven't heard the half of it.

Timeless classics 

Carol - Patricia Highsmith

The film of the book hits UK cinemas in late November, so now is the perfect time to read this Patricia Highsmith classic. First published pseudonymously in 1952 as The Price of Salt, Carol is a powerful and thrilling love story set in 1950s New York. 

The Story of the Lost Child - Elena Ferrante

With her Neapolitan Quartet universally acclaimed as an extraordinary literary achievement, 2015 has truly been Elena Ferrante’s year. This is the compelling final novel in a series that has drawn a magnificent portrait of a splendid, but complex and shifting, female friendship - buy all four if you can.



Trigger Mortis - Anthony Horowitz

Pour the cocktails and sprinkle a little 007 magic into Christmas with the latest Bond novel. Horowitz is a brilliant match for the Bond behemoth, with pitch-perfect tone and page-turning action. 

The Mountain Shadow - Gregory David Roberts

Highly anticipated by fans of Shantaram, this sequel is an all-consuming epic thriller. Two years after the events of that novel, Lin returns Bombay to find it changed beyond recognition, and must navigate his way through secrets - and violent intrigue - in search of the truth. 

Collins glitz and glamour


The Santangelos - Jackie Collins

Following her death earlier this year, the publication of the final part of Jackie Collins' epic Santangelo series is a bittersweet pleasure. There's blood, murder, sex and drugs from South of France to Vegas, of course - and wherever she is, JC's most beloved heroine Lucky never fails the family motto: "Never fuck with a Santangelo."

The St. Tropez Lonely Hearts Club - Joan Collins

If anyone is equipped to write a novel about a Contessa looking for love, set in the opulence of St Tropez, it’s Queen Joan. Here she brings us a rousing romp of sex, sun, murder and scandal - perfect for those looking for a book to truly devour over the Christmas break.

Literary geniuses


Sweet Caress - William Boyd

If you're one of the many who adored Any Human Heart, you’ll be delighted with Boyd’s latest novel. Amory Clay is gathering her memoirs: her childhood sorrows, her apprenticeship as a war photographer, her trips to 20s Berlin, 30s New York, France, Vietnam, California… It's a sweeping story, full of defining historical moments: an extraordinary woman’s epic journey through the 20th century.

Number 11 - Jonathan Coe

What a Carve Up! was a literary sensation when it was first published, and is still revered as one of the most brilliant satires of Thatcher’s Britain. 21 years later Coe puts today's Britain under the microscope, with a brilliant exploration of the dark side of social media, celebrity obsession and the excesses of the uber rich.

Short stories


Cockfosters - Helen Simpson

Ever since her acutely observed and acidly direct stories about motherhood in Hey Yeah Right Get a Life, Helen Simpson has been hailed as a true chronicler of what it means to be a woman. Her new collection explores the menopause years, to which there is no better, braver or funnier guide than Simpson.

A Manual for Cleaning Women - Lucia Berlin

Before her death in 2004, Lucia Berlin led an extraordinary life - she raised four sons alone while struggling with alcoholism, took on a string of jobs and husbands, and never settled anywhere for long. Her writing is immediate, fresh and beautiful, more like a series of images from her unusual world than the usual tightly structured short story. This New York Times bestseller is the 'new discovery' of the year - read it to discover why.

Love and war


Where My Heart Used to Beat - Sebastian Faulks

Like Faulks' previous book Human Traces, this is a thoughtful insight into the human mind and the impact of our genes. Spanning both world wars and most of the twentieth century, it ponders questions of free will and destiny through its characters' love lives, and the global struggle against which those lives unfold. A fast paced, compassionate and moving novel, currently being touted as one of Faulks' best.

The Dust That Falls From Dreams - Louis de Bernières

It is 1902 and, in their Kent village, three families are celebrating Edward VII’s coronation. The McCosh sisters, Pitt brothers and Pendennis lads have little idea what lies in store over the next twenty years: trench warfare, nursing, marriages, aerial battles and - for some - the struggle back to civilian life. Louis de Bernieres is considered by fans to be the master of wartime romance, and this novel hits its target perfectly.


Historical novels

Dictator - Robert Harris

The final part of the trilogy, set in semi-fictitious Ancient Rome and seen through the eyes of Cicero, who is now fighting for his place as supreme senator. Robert Harris expertly mixes contemporary politics (spot echoes of Blair in his portrait of Caesar) with outstanding historical knowledge, and creates a thriller that is both epic and intimate. 

The Taming of the Queen - Philippa Gregory

From the empress of historical novels comes the tale of Kateryn Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII. The Taming of the Queen is a powerful depiction of an intelligent widow's experience in Henry's court, and a heart whose direction refuses to be defined by marriage.


Spooky tales

Slade House - David Mitchell

The ingenious author of Cloud Atlas turns his hand to a suspense-filled horror story, leaping through characters and time to create a gripping supernatural thriller. Highly inventive, and creepily delicious.

The Taxidermist's Daughter - Kate Mosse

A Gothic treat set in a Sussex village, with perfectly crafted suspense and plenty of marshy, misty atmosphere. Very Daphne de Maurier, and a favourite with a multitude of writers including Joanne Harris, Marian Keyes and Anthony Horowitz. 

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Last updated: over 3 years ago