books

5 brilliant, uplifting books that are perfect summer reads.

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It is hardly surprising. At the end of one of the most troubling years of our lives, our need for escapism has never been greater.      

This year, the changes to our lives were beyond what anyone could have predicted, with one upside. Living through a pandemic forced us to stop and think about how to rewind and relax – how to remember what normal feels like.

Novels are, undoubtedly, one of the best ways to do this. 

Here are five books that are all written by Australian female authors, with recommendations from the Mamamia staff along the way. So, grab some wine and cheese and settle down for this flight of fabulous yarns this summer.

The Women's Pages

The Women's Pages by Victoria Purman. Image: Supplied. 

The Women's Pages begins with the end of World War II - a moment that triggered a joyous hurrah in the streets of Sydney on the historic day in 1945. But for aspiring journalist Tilly Galloway, whose husband Archie has been away at war for four long years, a new battle was only beginning as she learns of the lives of the underpaid and overworked women who live in Sydney.

The novel is expertly written by bestselling South Australian author Victoria Purman, also the acclaimed author of 2019 novel The Land Girls, who takes the reader through the emotions of food shortages, strikes, new and old romances, career upheavals and husbands who return from the battlefield. 

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Mamamia's Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik reviewed the book, writing: "Thanks to its rich Australian history, multi-dimensional characters and a story of love, ambition and resilience that will sweep you away, The Women's Pages is the one new novel you need to share with your book club, family and friends."

Flying The Nest

Flying The Nest is a must-read this Summer. Image: Supplied. 

Rachael Johns is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author from Western Australia, known for several women's fiction novels including Just One Wish, Lost Without You and The Patterson Girls.

Her newest novel, Flying The Nest, is a story told from the perspective of a Perth woman, Ashling King, whose husband casually announces one day he would like a separation. On the cusp of 40, she is seemingly collateral damage in her husband's mid-life crisis and is forced to navigate a new chapter in her life. She desperately wants to put her family back together, but she also begins a journey of rediscovering her own identity and regaining her own independence.

When I reviewed this book, this is what I said: "It's the kind of book you'll want all your friends to read, so that after you can sit around to discuss Ash's story, but also your own families and friendships, careers and ambitions. This story makes you think about your own understanding of what a romantic relationship should entail, and your own perception of what a 'family unit' looks like in the 21st century.

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"Flying the Nest is a disarmingly all-too-real portrayal of what happens when the traditional roles of wife and mother are turned on their head. This is a book that women will want to bond over, share laughs and tears over – a must read for every woman who has had their life take an unexpected turn."

The Family Inheritance 

We all have a family history; stories and tales that tell us about the generations who walked before us.  But what happens when you discover you've been lied to, for years, by your own family?

The Family Inheritance tells a story of just that.

Written by bestselling and multiple award-winning author Tricia Stringer, the novel delves deep into the story of an Adelaide family who discover hidden secrets after the sudden death of their patriarch, Franklyn. The impacts of a bombshell revelation will reverberate throughout the family, with three generations of women dealing with the complex consequences. 

Mamamia's Editor Clare Stephens reviewed The Family Inheritance, speaking of how relatable this book will be for readers from all kinds of families.

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"Stringer is able to make a fictional world feel instantly like your own. Her characters aren’t just characters - they’re people you’re convinced you know. And as you turn the pages, you begin to feel their pain, regret, hope and joy," Stephens explains.

"The story itself is striking in its familiarity. No matter the makeup of your family, you'll be able to identify with the experiences and emotions of Hazel, Felicity and Greta, whose struggles are universal in an age where 'family' is often complicated. Many of us have learnt of secrets and untold challenges after years and sometimes decades of being in the dark. Stringer shows how these can be overcome, and ultimately make us stronger."

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne. Image: Supplied. 

When neighbours and friends Angela and Ruby embark on a road trip, they expect a leisurely holiday as they enjoy their retirement. But as their adventure plays out, the women somehow go from tourists into wanted kidnappers. It is a trip of unexpected twists, turns and troubles, which deals with everything from complicated family dynamics to the joys of ageing.

It is a distinctly Australian read, written by Melbourne screenwriter Olivia Wearne, that will bring back all the memories of any family road trip you've been on.

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Nama Winston reviewed the book for Mamamia, writing: "The Grand Tour will make you feel at home, but also give you the spirit of adventure and make you smile. And most of all, it will remind you that age is just a number, and you're never too old for anything you want to do.

"As a first novel, The Grand Tour impressively walks the line between humour and heart."

The Cartographer's Secret


The Cartographer's Secret by Tea Cooper. Image: Supplied. 

 In keeping with the Australian theme, this book is set in New South Wales' Hunter Valley and follows the determination of a young woman, Letitia Rawlings, who is trying to uncover the truth of the disappearance of her aunt three decades earlier. When Evie Ludgrove went missing in 1880, there wasn't a trace left in her wake. 

The mystery has riddled her family ever since and caused a deep rift between them. And as Letitia discovers, there are more secrets that consume her family than she ever imagined. 

The Cartographer's Secret is written by bestselling author Tea Cooper, famed for her books including The Girl in the Painting, The Woman in the Green Dress and The Naturalist's Daughter. Cooper is known for her strong female protagonists, and the way she brings historical narratives to life in such a visceral way.

Just like all the books listed above, it will make for an enjoyable read this Christmas, a satisfying book club option or even a treasured gift for someone these holidays.

All of these books are available at good booksellers, online and instore at BIG W, eBooks on Apple Books, and in audiobook on Audible.

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