Sadly the nights are dark and chilly, but there’s nothing better than curling up with some feel-good chick lit in the evenings, or perhaps some uplifting women’s fiction on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve compiled a selection of some of my favourites that I’m more than happy to recommend to you.
My recommendations for feel good and uplifting reads include:
Anna Bell – The Man I Didn’t Marry
Claire Frost – Married at First Swipe
Nicola Gill – We are Family
Cathy Hopkins – A Vintage Friendship
Julie Houston – Coming Home to Holly Close Farm
Jennifer Joyce – The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea
Lucy Diamond – One Night In Italy
Freya North – Pillow Talk
Carmen Reid – Personal Shopper & How Not To Shop
10 of the Best Feel Good Chick Lit & Uplifting Women’s Fiction Books for 2020/21
The Man I Didn’t Marry by Anna Bell (2021) – 5 star
The Man I Didn’t Marry is a really interesting story and I’ve not come across one covering the subject of memory loss before.
Ellie and Max are happily married with a 2 year old daughter and another on the way. Just as Ellie is about to start her maternity leave, Max suddenly loses his memory from the last 5 years, meaning he doesn’t know that he is now a family man.
Ellie and all their family and friends try to teach Max the lost memories, but there are a few things that they are all keeping secret from each other which unfold as the story progresses.
It’s quite thought-provoking and certainly shows us that we shouldn’t take each other for granted and that we need to continuously put effort into relationships, not just marriage. I enjoyed all the characters, from family members to the antenatal group of mums.
There is a heartwarming ending but as usual with Anna Bell books there are lots of funny laugh out loud moments too. Her books are easy to read, but hard to put down. I love that they are set in real towns rather than fictional ones, especially as I know exactly where they all are. Slightly disappointed that there isn’t a coffee van selling nice cakes at Fleet Pond though. 😉
Another good read that I’m happy to recommend.
Published 4 February 2021 HQ Digital
Married at First Swipe by Claire Frost (2021) 5 star
Married at First Swipe is a fun story of a modern-day arranged marriage with a difference. I loved it immediately.
Hannah works for her best friend Jess on her dating app business called Save the Date. Jess had got into some financial difficulties and Hannah came up with the hair-brained idea that Jess should find her a husband through the app, but that she wouldn’t actually meet him until their wedding day. The ultimate blind date! They decided that the exposure in the press and on social media might just save the business.
The first half of the story focuses on the lead up to the wedding. Obviously, I believe in the sanctity of marriage, but this was a fun adventure to follow, a bit of ridiculous light relief.
The second half is more serious as the newlyweds get to know each other. It also looks into the more realistic issues of relationships, including the marriages of Jess, Hannah’s parents, and grandparents.
I really enjoyed this. It was well written and all the characters were interesting.
Published 4 February 2021
We are Family by Nicola Gill (Sept 2020)
We are Family is about the relationship between two sisters as they learn to rebuild their relationship whilst coming to terms with their mother’s death. Laura and Jess are both in their late 30s with families of their own, but there has always been an imbalance in their relationship as Jess was seen to be the favourite daughter.
It is an extremely moving story that follows the sisters’ family and work lives with several secrets coming out along the way. There are a few laugh out loud one-liners, and I think there was room for a few more of these to balance out the sadness. That said, I really enjoyed this book and read it in a weekend.
It was quite thought-provoking about the hurt that people can do to each other without necessarily realising it, or even meaning to. Although fiction, this story is very real. I was certainly grateful for my family relationships whilst reading this book.
I was glad the characters work through it all to reach a feel good, happy ending, although there are still surprises right up to the end. Also, see my review of by The Neighbours by Nicola Gill in my post Books for Summer Reading.
A Vintage Friendship by Cathy Hopkins (August 2020)
Oh my, what a rollercoaster of emotions this book is. I laughed, cried, and thought about special people past and present from my own life.
A Vintage Friendship is about 4 school friends and how their lives and friendships have changed over the years. Jo and Ally remained close, Sara kept in touch but moved in different circles and Mitch vanished from all their lives.
Although in their early 60s, Sara loses her job and is worried about her future. She needs a new work and life plan, both of which involve strengthening her friendships with her old school pals.
Now I won’t say any more about the plot but even though I’m ‘only’ in my 50s, I could identify with pretty much all this story. Myself and many of my own friends are reevaluating our lives due to health, loss, retirement, work, Covid, etc. We’ve all lost friends along the way and it’s not always too late to reconnect.
Thought provoking and very moving. Highly recommended for us more ‘mature’ ladies.
Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston (Feb 2020)
Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston is an absolutely delightful book that I really didn’t want to put down.
Initially, it was quite confusing with daughters, mum, grannies, a great granny, and a couple of cousins, but once you got your head around the family tree it was a fabulous read.
Charlie returns home to Yorkshire after losing her job and boyfriend. Her sister Daisy has also lost her job. The two sisters try to put their lives back together whilst visiting their great granny who tells of family secrets and of her great love during the war.
It is so incredibly romantic and obviously well researched with regards to the war and attitudes back then. It was wonderful to see the word scullery (kitchen) reminding me of my own nan. I love how reading can stir up your own memories. There are a few funny bits too. A wonderful uplifting read.
The Little Bed & Breakfast by the Sea by Jennifer Joyce (2017)
The Little Bed and Breakfast by the Sea captures the spirit of the British seaside resort. In it we follow the lives of Mae, Melody and Willow as they are all brought together in this lovely bit of fiction set in Clifton on Sea.
Melody is travelling around northern British seaside towns trying to capture the perfect shot for a photography competition.
Glamourous Mae, loves vintage fashion and runs a small B and B. She is a single mum and works hard to make a living, helped by a caring network of friends and family.
Willow runs a shop selling upcycled arts and crafts which she loves but her home and love life is in turmoil.
As the story progresses we find out more about the past and the present of these three young women. I’ve read a few books by Jennifer Joyce and have always enjoyed them. This is a lovely feel good story perfect for autumn giving us a taste of the summer that didn’t seem so long ago. A simple, easy to read story.
Also available on Kindle Unlimited.
Mother of the Year by Karen Ross (2014)
Mother of the Year is mostly told in the first person by JJ a 20 something girl working in marketing. She is the daughter of celebrity Beth Jackson who is only 15 years older than her. The story also reverts to Beth’s viewpoint at times.
It is written in a lighthearted way as we follow JJ as she tries to succeed at work and relationships. There are a few laugh out loud moments and a couple of times where I was mentally screaming at her not to do something because I just knew the disaster that would follow. 😂
The story highlights the complex relationships between mother and child. Beth wanted to prove her worth by working hard to set a good example to her daughter, whereas JJ could only see the times where her mum put work first and publicly embarrassed her in the name of entertainment.
There are some parts of the book that will tug at your heartstrings along with some interesting factual info for authors, book lovers and those wanting to live a more eco friendly lifestyle. I enjoyed reading this and found it still as relevant reading it in 2021 as when it was released in 2014.
Lucy Diamond – One Night in Italy
I’ve read many books by Lucy Diamond before and I can confidently say she is one of my favourite authors. You know the ones where you will purchase the latest release on the strength of the author’s name alone without even reading the description.
One Night In Italy focuses on three main characters, Anna, Sophie, and Catherine who all have an Italian connection and meet on an Italian speaking course. We follow them and many other characters who join them along the way for love, friendship, and career moves. It is very easy to follow.
A lovely story and you might just pick up a bit of tourist Italian phrases along the way too. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Freya North – Pillow Talk
This book was released in 2009 but it was the first book that I have read by Freya North, even though I was aware of the author’s name. This has such a romantic storyline as it’s based on the song that teenage musician Arlo wrote for the would-be love of his life. He sang it to Petra at the time and although the two had never had a proper relationship, it seems that neither had forgotten the other.
They meet quite by chance 17 years later. It is so cleverly written and during the story, more pieces of the jigsaw unfold and we find out why the characters have the problems that they have. The sleepwalking aspect of it was really interesting, as was the teaching career of Arlo. I loved this book and will definitely be checking out more from this author.
Carmen Reid – Personal Shopper & How Not To Shop
This was the first book I’d read by Carmen Reid and I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I loved it. I’m not a shopping fanatic or a lover of fashion, but I really enjoyed the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella, so I decided to give Personal Shopper a try.
Single mum Annie is a personal shopper in a high-end store and runs her own second-hand business on eBay. Throughout the story, we join several of Annie’s customers, her friends, children, and romantic interests. This book is lots of fun, with some touching moments and a twist in the storyline that I didn’t see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I then went on to read How Not to Shop after finding out I should have read Late Night Shopping first. However, it all follows on perfectly well. Annie has just left her job at The Store to join a tv show with former customer Svetlana.
As well as exploring the life and loves of Annie and her family, we learn lots more about Svetlana in this book. I enjoyed this just as much as part one and would definitely read more from Carmen Reid.
Have you read any of these?
Do you have any feel-good or uplifting reads to recommend this autumn?
You may also like to read:
I will keep adding to this post so do check back or follow me on my Bookstagram or Goodreads for my latest reviews.
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