While *whispers* Christmas is drawing ever closer, there's no doubting that we could use something to brighten up the winter evenings while we wish away the gloom. Jennifer McShane recommends six reads that will warm your chilly bones and make your heart feel a little lighter.
The Wives by Lauren Weisberger (HarperCollins, approx. €14.99)
Emily, Miranda Priestley’s assistant from The Devil Wears Prada returns. She’s a stylist to the stars. But all is not well: a Snapchatting Millennial is stealing her clients. Karolina, an ex-supermodel has been dumped and Miriam was a high-powered attorney who quit her job to be a stay at home mother. Exiled to the suburbs, watch what happens when they come together.
The Balcony by Jane Delury (Hodder & Stoughton, approx. €9.99)
Told across various centuries, this charming debut unfolds in 10 non-chronological chapters (each of which is essentially a short story) that introduce a varying cast of characters – from the lovesick American au pair to an iPhone-obsessed child to a Jewish couple hiding from the Nazis - all linked to a once grand estate in Paris.
An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Liam (Quercus, approx. €15.99)
It’s 1980 and a deadly virus threatens to break up two young lovers. To save Frank, Polly agrees to travel into the future, with no way to return, for a corporation who will pay for his life-saving treatment. They arrange to meet over a decade later but when Polly gets there late, Frank isn’t there. A compelling dystopian read.
Testament by Kim Sherwood (Riverrun, approx. €14.99)
Eva was closest to her grandfather, charismatic and a keeper of secrets. After his death, she finds a letter and struggles as she begins to uncover the secrets - and lies - about her family's past in the Hungarian Holocaust. She longs for the truth but it could change everything she knows. A powerful debut.
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor (Harvill Secker, approx €15.99)
In O'Connor’s late 19th-century saga centred on Henry Irving (known to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece Dracula), we get a refreshing take on historical fiction. Stoker is the Lyceum Theatre manager, Irving is its owner and star while Ellen Terry is its leading lady - both become infatuated while the unremarkable Stoker battles his own need for inspiration. Echoes of Stoker’s timeless story can be found on every page and it offers a fascinating insight into an extraordinary classic.
Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall (Sphere, approx. €12.99, out now)
Ellen and Sasha are entwined in each other's lives after decades of friendship. When Sasha disappears, Ellen realises finding out the truth about what really happened on New Year's Eve years ago puts her in terrible danger – for she may not know Sasha that well at all. This one is tense and chilling.
Main photograph: Unsplash