The shortlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction will be announced on Monday 13th April and we’re hopeful that our crown jewel The Shore by Sara Taylor will be gracing the list. We’ve placed our bets on who else will be on there. Here is our SHORElist …
THE SHORE by Sara Taylor
As voted for by ALL of us here at Windmill Books
‘Taylor’s writing is striking, her characters believable and her storytelling entrancing.’ A Life in Books
‘Magnificent if harrowing. Nearest comparison maybe Susan Barker’s The Incarnations’ Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles
‘A disturbingly assured debut from an author so young. I was shocked, enthralled and loved it’ Harry Illingworth, Goldsboro Books
If you’re yet to read, you can get your hands on a stunning copy now
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
As voted for by our Editorial Director, Laura Deacon
Having never read a word of Lissa Evans before, I picked up Crooked Heart after numerous recommendations from trusted friends. They were all spot-on: it is a novel which completely delights, entertains and tells a very different tale of World War Two, that of an evacuee and his relationship with his foster mother. The story is told from the point of view of ten-year-old Neil Bostock. Forced from his home in London and still grieving for his eccentric suffragette godmother Mattie (who is a completely brilliant character), Neil is sent to St Albans where he lives with Vera Sedge.
Vee’s life is chaotic – against a backdrop of food shortages and money worries, Vee poses as a charity collector and pockets all of the donations to help her family. The problem is, Vee on her own is not particularly successful. She needs someone with guile and meticulous organisation. Struggling to fit into his new community, Neil spots the opportunity to grow closer to Vee and make a profit. Their cunning plan seems watertight, that is until they discover that there are lots of people prepared to go to any length to make money from the war and the novel takes on a darker tone.
This really is a novel to savour and one that will completely immerse you from start to finish, making you laugh and cry in equal measure with characters that leap right off the page.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
As voted for by our Senior Editor, Emma Mitchell
Sarah Waters never fails to perfectly capture a particular period of time and in The Paying Guests she turns her attention to London after WWI. From the start we are submerged in the claustrophobic middle-class domestic life of Francis Wray and her mother. After the deaths of the men of the family, the two women’s financial struggles force them to take in lodgers Lilian and Leonard Barber – the paying guests of the title. What unfolds is a novel which addresses the rupture of class boundaries, the realignment of gender roles and the dispirited state of a society after war through the increasingly tangled and fascinating relationships of Francis and her lodgers. It is a tale of furtive secrets and hidden desires with an ominous undercurrent and a sense of unease. Without giving too much of the plot away, events take a dramatic turn and the narrative suddenly propels us along at the pace of a thriller. This really is a novel of two halves – both of which are handled brilliantly, rich in drama and social realism. It will have you hooked until the last page.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
As voted for by our Assistant Editor, Anna-Sophia Watts
I would like to see Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel on the shortlist alongside The Shore. Sara and Emily’s novels share a certain dreamlike quality, particularly in the dystopian chapters of The Shore. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel that makes us nostalgic for the world we live in and warns of a future where fossil fuels have run their course and global warming has altered the face of the globe. It follows Kristen, an actress performing Shakespeare in the Travelling Symphony, in the years after ‘the collapse’ when civilization as we know it has been destroyed. In the disparate communities that grow out of this disaster, Kristen finds that humanity and art endure through the darkness.
As voted for by our Digital Marketing & Publishing Manager, Vincent Kelleher
My biggest issue with Anne Tyler is that she doesn’t publish books nearly enough. She made us wait three whole years for A Spool of Blue Thread. But it was totally worth it. A Spool of Blue Thread is a wonderful novel in its own right, her uncanny ability to look at ordinary family life in an extraordinary way is ever present. There is no doubt that she is one of the finest novelists writing today, I regularly press Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant into people’s hands (it tends to be people I know so isn’t too awkward) and A Spool of Blue Thread will almost certainly become another Anne Tyler classic for me to bang on about for years to come.
As voted for by our Senior Editor, Sarah Rigby
Elizabeth Is Missing follows the story of Maud, an elderly woman in the grips of dementia who is convinced that her best friend has disappeared. Simultaneously a fast-paced mystery and a moving meditation on memory and identity, Emma Healey’s debut humanises a condition that many people find impenetrable and frustrating – but which could touch any of us. Beautifully written, haunting and compassionate, Elizabeth Is Missing has an unforgettable voice that gives us a glimpse into what it might be like to inhabit an increasingly fractured mind.