15 Recommended Women’s Fiction Books – Best Novels from the Last Two Decades

Updated July 2020

Whilst doing some pc maintenance, I came across some old book recommendations. As I am updating my blog, I decided to put them all in one post and share them with you in case you’re looking for some new old titles. I have included lots of women’s fiction and chick lit titles from the last decade or two.

I love it when you discover a new author and find they have a huge back catalogue then start delving into the past. It’s quite funny reading a book that was written in 2000  seeing how much the world has already changed. As a middle-aged woman, this sounds fairly recent. You then realise that it was almost 20 years ago!

Read on to find my recommended women’s fiction from the last two decades, mostly from the last few years but I have let some slip in from 2009, 2005 and the year 2000!

Read on for reviews of:

Kathleen Whyman – Wife Support System (2020)

Jill Mansell – This Could Change Everything (2018)

Sophie Kinsella – My Not So Perfect Life (2017)

Kristy Greenwood Big Sexy Love (2017)

Jenny Colgan – The Summer Seaside Kitchen (2017)

Milly Johnson – The Barn on Half Moon Hill by Milly Johnson (2016)

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl (2014)

Fiona Gibson – Take Mum Out (2014)

Jane Green – Accidental Husband (2013)

Jane Green – Patchwork Marriage (2012)

Jojo Moyes – Me Before You (2012)

Elizabeth Noble – The Way We Were (2010)

Freya North – Secrets (2009)

Carmen Reid – Up All Night (2005)

Katie Fforde – Thyme Out  (2000)

Wife Support System by Kathleen Whyman (2020)

This had such a bizarre plot I was intrigued to read more.

It follows the story of 3 mums and their children who move in together to provide a support network to each other for one month.

Workaholic parents Erica and Dan have just lost their nanny and neither are able to look after their children due to their work commitments.

Louisa, also a workaholic mum, seems to leave everything to her husband and their marriage is at breaking point, despite her pretending it’s not.

And Polly, a widow with 2 children suffers extreme anxiety since the death of her husband.

In this fabulous story, boundaries are crossed, friendships and relationships are tested, and secrets unravel. There are betrayals of trust and each woman’s parenting skills come into question.

I thought this was a brilliant debut novel from Kathleen Whyman. It was easy to follow, had a bit of everything and there were lits of surprises along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it, 10/10.

blue book cover for the wife support system by kathleen whyman picturing two hands holding the text and a woman carrying a washing basket

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (2018)

Some books take a while to get going but Jill Mansell tends to have me captivated from the beginning. This could change everything did exactly that.

This charming story is about a group of people all meeting each other by chance as they muddle their way through life. It is full of kind and larger than life characters. From the wonderful octogenarian Zillah who gives bucket list wishes, to the loud, gaudy Caz who really has a heart of gold underneath her brash exterior.

Jill Mansell always writes with warmth and humour and this had the ability to make me smile and cry. There are lots of romances throughout the story.

I didn’t want to put this down. Highly recommended. 10/10

orange book cover with a picture of a park bench and a white bird sitting on it with the text Jill Mansell this could change everything

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (2017)

Sophie Kinsella, author of the Shopaholic books, comes up trumps again. A great mix of situations in this story about how other people’s lives aren’t exactly as we perceive them to be.

Farmer’s daughter Katie goes off to London to work and invents herself a new persona as Cat rather than Katie. Things don’t go to plan and she reluctantly goes back to the farm to help her parents set up a new business venture of a glamping resort.

I loved reading about the set-up and organisation of the business and delving deeper into the lives of the characters.

Very well written and a winner from the very start.

Book cover of Sophie Kinsella My Not So Perfect Life

Big Sexy Love by Kristy Greenwood (2017)

Along with Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Sue Shepherd, this is one of the best books I think I’ve ever read. I didn’t want to put it down. Full of hilarious laugh out loud moments mixed in with inevitable sadness due to the subject matter. Enjoyable characters who formed warm relationships that left you with a lovely feeling at sharing their love.


The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan (2017)

I’ve been reading lots of Kindle books by new authors, many of which I’ve really enjoyed, but getting lost in a Jenny Colgan novel takes the enjoyment factor to a whole new level. She’s been one of my favourite authors for many years and the Summer Seaside Kitchen is another winner. The scene is set with such clarity that you easy transport to the Isle of Mure. Great characters and relationships with an interesting storyline. I absolutely loved this and couldn’t put it down. Paperback and Kindle


The Barn on Half Moon Hill by Milly Johnson (2016)

I’ve read many Milly Johnson books before and have thoroughly enjoyed them so I was pleased to see this release.  Although it is a stand-alone story in its own right, it features a quick return trip to Winterworld and was a prequel to Milly’s book that came out in the Winter of 2018. Available exclusively as an Ebook for only 99p, all proceeds go to a very worthy charity, Care for Claire, a tragic tale of a lady who lost everything!

Whilst it is only a short story, it is a lovely bit of escapism for an hour that certainly acted as a teaser of what’s to come, or as a taster of Milly Johnson’s style of writing if you’ve never read her before.  What a lovely way to donate to charity and get something for yourself at the same time. It costs the same as a bar of chocolate but lasts longer and will leave you guilt free. Go ahead put the kettle on now, click through to Amazon, and put your feet up for an hour or two.

white coloured book cover with the text Milly Johnson The barn on half moon hill

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2014)

I kind of had a love/hate relationship with this book. It was given to me by a friend who thought I’d enjoy it, even though it’s not my normal kind of read.

I found the first half really infuriating, but as my friend recommended it so highly I really wanted to like it and kept going. I didn’t particularly like the characters or the style of writing.

However, as we arrived at part two, it all changed and I couldn’t put it down. The story wasn’t at all what it seemed in part one and all I can say is wow! Thoroughly gripping. I hope if anyone else finds the same in the first part, they stick with it, as it’s brilliant!

book cover for gone girl by gillian flynn picturing a man walking and turning slightly to the right

Take Mum Out by Fiona Gibson (2014)

Easy to read humourous story of Alice single mum of two teenage boys who as she approaches 40 is set up on three dates by her girlfriends. Great fun and as a mum of two boys very easy to identify with. I thoroughly enjoyed this.


Accidental Husband (2013) and Patchwork Marriage (2012) by Jane Green

I love Jane Green novels, they are very different from a lot of the other authors I read but still falling under the chick lit umbrella. She covers a lot of tragedy in her stories, dealing with some hard-hitting topics which can make you dislike some of the characters but it keeps it real and you’re often left not knowing quite how it’s going to turn out.


Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (2012)

I’m glad that I didn’t read any reviews of this book before I got it. Had I known what this book was about I would never have read it. It’s so far removed from the stories I normally like but I was hooked within the first few pages and couldn’t put it down. A very real story with believable characters and extremely thought provoking. Don’t research the story any further, give it a read and see. My first read from this author and will be sure to delve into her back catalogue now. Excellent.


The Way We Were by Elizabeth Nobel (2010)

This was not the light and fluffy chick lit type novel that I normally read but it is well written and easy to read. It’s pretty sad on the whole exploring relationships with parents, children, lovers, and friends, and the effects of illness and trauma.  I found it very thought provoking.

Book cover with pink text for The Way We Were by Elizabeth Noble picturing an elegant lady wearing a pink dressing sitting on a bench staring into the distance

Secrets (2009) by Freya North

This had me captivated from the start, I couldn’t imagine a job I’d love more than to go and live in a big house near the sea as a house/dog sitter with a free reign to decorate, clutter and rearrange.

I loved all the characters and the author even managed to make Joe adorable, even though he was a bit of an arse! I enjoyed reading as the secrets unfolded. A really good well written read.

book cover of secrets by freya north with a pink stripy background and silouette of awoman sitting on a chair with a dog next to her

Up All Night (2005) by Carmen Reid

Up All Night starts off as a light fun read about Jo’s friendship with Bella, and her lusty relationship with her post-divorce toyboy, but it then takes on a far more serious shift.

Jo is an investigative journalist and although the book was originally written in 2005, the storyline is just as prevalent today as it was back then. She investigates the controversy of childhood immunisations whilst struggling with the complexities of life post-divorce when you have children.She also interviews a hopeful Green MP who talks about her lifestyle and the effects of the modern world and infantile allergies. Although this is fiction,  the issues are still very real now and it’s rather sad how little progress society has made in many respects.

Interesting story. Not at all what I thought it would be but I’d definitely recommend it. A good one for post-read discussion.

yellow book cover with alarm clock on and text Carmen Reid Up All Night

Thyme Out  (2000) by Katie Fforde

Katie Fforde is one of my newly discovered authors and I’m delighted to find a huge back catalogue to work through. Thyme Out was written in 2000 so it is most amusing to find the early mentions of mobile phones and people still reading maps to find places. A wonderful story of the relationship between the old (Kitty) and young (Perdita) and the scoundrel that was Perdita’s ex-husband Lucas. I really enjoyed this.


I hope you check out some of my suggestions. Please let me know what you think of any of these titles or if you’ve got some of your own that you’d like to share in the comments box below.

You may also like to read:

Tripfiction Books for your Staycation

Free and Cheap Chick Lit Reads

* Books For Summer Reading

Or maybe check out some of my “Author Spotlights”.



Twitter @kathleenwhyman1 @HeraBooks @JillMansell @KinsellaSophie @Novelicious @jennycolgan @millyjohnson @JaneGreen @jojomoyes @freya_north @thiscarmenreid @KatieFforde


21 thoughts on “15 Recommended Women’s Fiction Books – Best Novels from the Last Two Decades

  1. My not so perfect life sounds like another good option by Kinsella. I’m not usually drawn to women’s fiction, but I always enjoy it when I work it in. I’ll add this to my TBR

    Liked by 1 person

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