In today’s post, I have compiled a selection of heartwarming women’s fiction and chick lit reads that are guaranteed to move you. Enjoy my selection of summer stories that will make you laugh, cry, and smile again. I hope you find something to while away a few hours with these wonderful heartwarming reads from independent and established women’s fiction authors.
My Heartwarming Summer Reads includes:
Kristin Bailey – Can I Give My Husband Back
Sue Shepherd – Can’t Get You Out of my Head
Kate Field – The Man I Fell in Love With
Annie Lyons – The Happiness List
Pippa James – The Happiness Project
Giovanna Fletcher – You’re The One That I Want
Kirsty Greenwood – The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance
Faith Bleasdale – Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor
Lucy Dillon – Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts
Carla Burgess – Meet Me at Willow Hall
Can I Give My Husband Back? by Kristen Bailey
You may have seen my review of Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life by Kristen Bailey in my last post 10 Books for Summer Reading which I said was one of my favourite reads this year. Can I Give My Husband Back is just as good and Kristen Bailey is now an author I will be watching out for.
This story follows Emma as she divorces her serial cheat of a husband. She dips her toe into the new world of dating alongside working and bringing up her two daughters with the help of her crazy sister Lucy.
There are lots of laugh out loud moments, along with a moving story too. The characters are brilliant, believable, funny, and in the case of the husband, quite despicable.
Initially, I didn’t realise that Emma was the sister of Meg from Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life?. The storyline was very cleverly brought in to join the two books about halfway through. I do hope there are going to be more in this series. There are five sisters so I would like to think there will be.
Top marks for Kristen Bailey. I highly recommend both these books for 2020.
Released by Bookoutre in June 2020.
Can’t Get You Out of my Head by Sue Shepherd
This is one of my favourite books ever. There is so much I want to say about this book, but so little I can say without giving any spoilers. I was intrigued by the storyline having a fascination with twins anyway but this is one unique sisterly relationship.
You are welcomed into the story at a six-year old’s birthday party. You immediately feel the innocence of youth and the nurturing family atmosphere, especially from the wonderful Nanna. It transported me back to my childhood immediately with warm thoughts of my own nan. Then Bam! I certainly didn’t predict any of what comes next as this original plot unfolds.
The story progresses as the main characters pass the ages of 10 and 16 exploring some of the rights of passage, then on to the later teenage years where the characters explore a gap-year-type trip to Bondi Beach. Having a son out there at the time of reading, the writing was spot on and I felt the miles close just by reading of the experiences that echoed his.
Even though the characters are young in much of the first half, it’s certainly an adult story, and the journey continues through to their 30s.
There are some funny one-liners and great descriptive language. It is so well written that it can effortlessly bring about a change of several emotions in one chapter. I laughed, got a bit choked up on more than one occasion, and just wanted to discuss the storyline with people. It was very thought-provoking and emotive, and even though it is fiction, it dealt with some very real subjects in a compassionate way.
This story would be perfect for a book group as there’s so much that can be taken from the characters and the storyline. I read this in two sittings only stopping to put the kettle on and have a wee break. It was certainly a case of “just one-more-chapter”! Highly recommended.
The Man I Fell in Love With by Kate Field
I read The Man I Fell in Love With last year and it was one of my favourites.
This story is about Mary, whose husband Leo leaves her for another man! She could almost forgive him because she couldn’t compete or win him back. It was so refreshing to read about infidelity with the same sex and see how different the emotions were compared to affairs with someone of the opposite sex. Kate Field has done a great job writing about this rather unique subject within women’s fiction.
Initially, I felt kind of happy for Leo’s new relationship with Clark. I enjoyed their happiness, but as time went on little things would irk me about the way he’d treated Mary in the past. Even down to the way she’d found out. I started to see how selfish and controlling he was which gave some explanation as to why Mary accepted it all so easily.
By the second half of the story, Mary starts to come to terms with falling in love again which raises even more challenges. I’ll leave the rest for you to find out.
The Happiness List by Annie Lyons
The Happiness List is about 3 women from different generations who are all dealing with grief, betrayal, dissatisfaction, or feelings of being taken for granted. The story is written with compassion and humour as you discover the backgrounds of the characters who all have an element of unhappiness in their life.
The three sign up for a local “Happiness Course” and find unlikely friendship and support in each other as they complete the weekly tasks to build their own Happiness Lists. As the story progresses they learn a lot about themselves, and each other, as they find new strengths and interests.
In the first few chapters, there are a lot of characters which does take a bit of concentration, but then the story flows easily. All three women are extremely likable, the sort of women you’d like to become friends with. I loved the characters of Charlie, a 10-year-old girl wise beyond her years but with an innocent vulnerability, and of Alan who was perfectly portrayed.
It is an extremely moving story that left me misty-eyed on more than one occasion. Some of it is predictable but in that nice “lose yourself in a book” way, with a few twists towards the end. This is the perfect feel good read for a hot summer Sunday that left me feeling all warm and gooey in my soul.
Annie Lyons is a new author to me and she has other women’s fiction books available which I will look forward to reading.
Aside from the story itself, there was a wonderful upcycling idea at the end which got my mind ticking, and there’s a link to take your own free personality survey.
The Happiness Project by Pippa James
This story is about 3 young mums who make a pact to improve their lives for the new year under the name of The Happiness Project. Alison vowes to push herself out of her comfort zone with health and fitness, newly pregnant Kate aims to be more zen-like during her third pregnancy, and Frankie plans to get herself a proper job and turn into a grown-up!
The Happiness Project follows the trials and tribulations of their efforts and sees how they find their way through life, learning to be mums, friends, and partners. We witness them trying to juggle work, the PTA, extended families, and the complicities that being a mum entails. Always trying to do the best you can, not letting others see your failings and often mistaking genuine help as interfering or judging.
Pippa James has created three believable and likable main characters with very real scenarios. Reading this as a mum whose children have now grown up I can really appreciate how much time we waste worrying about how other people perceive our parenting.
Giovanna Fletcher – You’re The One That I Want
A beautiful, heartwarming and heartbreaking story about the friendship and love between 3 best friends – Robert, Ben, and Maddy.
Their journey through life is told from each viewpoint by Maddy and Ben, starting when they met at 9 years old with the story developing at yearly intervals.
It’s very easy to read and will take you back to the innocence of youth and your own first loves. This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy one minute and in tears the next. Highly recommended.
The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance/Jessica Beam is a Hot Mess by Kirsty Greenwood
This book was originally called The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance and has since been renamed and reissued as Jessica Beam is a Hot Mess.
Jessica is a young, modern, relatively well-known blogger. She suddenly loses her home and her job and goes in search of her long lost grandma for help. Her grandma Matilda lives in an affluent area of London but she too has serious money problems.
Grandma Matilda is trying to raise some much-needed funds by republishing some of her vintage guides to love and romance. The publisher is uninterested at these out of date books until Jessica appears on the scene. The trio concocts a plan for Jess to try and get an eligible bachelor interested in her using the methods mentioned in Matilda’s books – writing up that experiment would form the basis for a new modern book.
The often hilarious story is interlaced with quotes from Matilda’s books from 1957 and Jessica’s mum’s diaries from 1985. It is fun to read the eloquent and ladylike methods of the 1950s in comparison to modern-day courting. Vintage etiquette for conduct and speech is certainly a whole new ball game for Jessica.
As with other books by Kirsty Greenwood, there are some serious and sad moments that really are quite thought-provoking. This story is a good example of how people are not always what they seem and how lies really do destroy lives.
I was very misty-eyed towards the end but absolutely loved this.
Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor by Faith Bleasdale
Pippa Singer is one of four siblings who has been left Meadowbrook Manor following their father’s death. The Singer family plan to turn this lovely old country house into a luxury hotel but have lots of conflicting ideas about how it should be run, so Pippa hires Gemma to pull it all together.
There are lots of extended family members at the initial meeting which can be a bit overwhelming not only for Gemma but for the reader too. However, their character traits are introduced gradually so you are not confused as to who is who.
As the ideas start to flow, she finds she not only has to work ways around their thoughts and ideas, but has to make it work with the local community and the family’s charity run animal shelter too.
I loved to see the development of Gemma’s character as she became more confident but still wobbled from time to time. It made her real. I think we all have it in us to do great things if people give us a chance. The Singers were her chance. What a great family network they are and in fact the whole village had that feel good factor. I wonder if places like that really do exist.
Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor has an air of eccentricity almost like a book version of The Vicar of Dibley. As I was reading about the fete I could picture ‘Reg Dwight’ on the tv show and as I read about the character traits of the animals I was imagining the Dibley Christmas nativity. Having a visual comparison in my head just made me enjoy it more.
Faith Bleasdale has such a lovely style of writing with a hint of anticipation as to what might happen next. Secrets at Meadowbrook Manor is extremely emotive in places which added an extra dimension to the story. It’s a lovely story about friendship, family, a little bit of romance, a great deal of determination, and a happy ending. I loved it and thoroughly recommend this heartwarming story.
Once again I find there is a previous book “A Year in Meadowbrook Manor” by the author to check out, but they can be read in any order.
Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon
This is the first book that I have read by Lucy Dillon and it was published way back in 2009. That’s the joy of books, you are constantly finding new titles, and when you find a new “old” author you have lots of back catalogue to discover immediately.
I absolutely loved this story. Yes, it had all the ingredients of a typical chick lit read – friendships, families, break ups, new romances, intrigue, empowered women with new business set-ups, etc., but it also had some extra ingredients that totally touched my heart – rescue dogs.
Having always had rescue dogs throughout my life, up until about 15 years ago, this story resonated with me. The writing was spot on with regards to the trials and tribulations of getting a new dog. From the idea of what you think you are going to get, to the reality of what dog chooses you. The dog characters in this story were just as important as the humans.
It was extremely well written with believable characters and experiences. You were just rooting for Rachel and her team to succeed with the business as much as their own personal relationships.
So many of the happenings in this story were true to life that you just know the author had had a rescue dog herself. But whilst it did have me craving another dog, remembering experiences of my own dogs, it was written in such a responsible way that made you think twice. It dealt with the issues of unwanted dogs and the ideal conditions of what your life should be like in order to own a dog.
At the end of the story were some tips of buying a new puppy or a rescue dog with lots of links to rescue organisations and animal welfare. Well done Lucy Dillon.
This book would appeal to both chick lit fans or dog lovers, and if you’re a fan of both you’re going to love it. I read as a paperback but it is available on Kindle too
Meet Me at Willow Hall by Carla Burgess
Meet Me at Willow Hall is utterly Delightful. This is a real love story.
I must admit to being swayed by covers and authors and I don’t always read the blurb so that I get a total surprise when I start reading. This was one of those books.
I was instantly moved by reading the letter that Anthony had sent to Rachel finishing their relationship and thought oh dear this is going to be a roller coaster! It couldn’t have been further from it, it was a thoroughly nice feel good book.
All the characters were really likable, the setting of Willow Hall was described beautifully and although life was almost too good to be true, it kind of made a nice change to see people succeeding in new business ventures and actually being happy. Ok, so real life isn’t like that all the time but who wants real life in a fiction book? Carla Burgess has created a perfect heartwarming summer read.
That’s my wrap up of 10 Feel Good Summer Reads – Heartwarming Women’s Fiction & Chick Lit. I hope you’ve found some titles that you like the sound of.
Have you read any of them before?
Do you have a favourite heartwarming women’s fiction or chick lit book that you’d like to recommend this year?
If none of these take your fancy, maybe you’d like to check out more of my summer reading suggestions here:
Authors’ Twitter @mrsbaileywrites @thatsueshepherd @1AnnieLyons @katehaswords @pippajamesbooks @MrsGiFletcher @Novelicious @FaithBleasdale @lucy_dillon
Authors’ Instagram @kristenbaileywrites @MrsGiFletcher @kirsty_greenwood @bleasdalefaith @lucydillonbooks @carlaburgessauthor @lucydiamondwrites @freya_north_author @carmenreidwrites