5 on the fly: great recent Australian novels to get lost in

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by Sarah Halfpenny

  1. The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

Set on the atmospheric coast of Scotland, this book won the Stella Prize in 2021 for Australian female writers. It details the fates of three women who are linked to this place and each other. In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. In the aftermath of World War II, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the local community. Six decades later, Viv, mourning her father’s death, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past.


  1. The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Three women in their seventies reunite for one last, life-changing weekend in the beach house of their late friend, Sylvie. The novel is filled with the tenderness and cruelty of life and female friendship – prepare to laugh and cry your way through it, as it explores growing old and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves.


  1. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

If you love a mystery-thriller, this is sure to satisfy. Marketed as “a twisty, compelling novel about one women’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder …” the story is told from two points of view – Lucy, the daughter-in-law, and Diana, the mother-in-law. Sally Hepworth is a master of domestic suspense, and this book sets a cracking pace as the reader finds out whodunnit!


  1. The Wife and the Widow by Christian White

Christian’s second novel is even better than his first! Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, it’s an unsettling thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband’s secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside when she’s forced to confront the evidence of her husband’s guilt. Fun fact: Christian’s wife came up with the book’s clever plot twist!


  1. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This is the poignant, awkward and hopeful story of Martha, who navigates the devastating effects of her undiagnosed mental illness, from her childhood in London, surrounded by her immediate and extended family, to her marriage to the loveable Patrick, who she’s known since they were teenagers. It offers a thought-provoking look at life, love, family, marriage and the sense of self.

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