Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

The first suggestion this time comes from Alison Stockham. She is the author of The Cuckoo Sister, which is published by Boldwood Books on 1 February 2023.

Her choice is Best Wishes, Sister B by Fran Smith, published by Neilsen on 4 July 2019.

A nun is like a tea bag. Her strength only shows when she gets into hot water. Sister Boniface knows that the centuries-old convent of St. Winifreda has crumbling towers, a leaky roof, and a rat infestation, but to her and the other sisters, it’s home. When the Bishop demands they be sent away so the land can be sold as a car park, Sister B will need more than prayer to keep the place going. Only with the help of ex-offenders, migrant workers, and the convent’s team of international nuns can she succeed in their quest to save, renew, restore, and revivify the sisterhood. Sister B must go far beyond her comfort zone to win out in a hilarious and holy struggle. Told through a series of letters between convents, Best Wishes Sister B is the first instalment in a heart-warming and gently humorous series. Readers are saying the book is a peaceful yet powerful tale and a genuine guilty pleasure. Featuring beautifully-drawn characters, whimsical humour, and a dose of divine intervention, Best Wishes Sister B is a triumph of good souls over adversity. If you like James Herriot, Gervase Phinn, or Call the Midwife, you’ll love this enchanting visit to an English village so much that you’ll never want to leave. Pick up this lovely, funny, feel-good novel today!

Here’s what she had to say:

“I absolutely love a book called Best Wishes, Sister B and it’s sequel, The Power of Cake by Fran Smith. It’s an uplifting comedy about Sister Boniface living in a crumbling convent on the edge of the fens and her quest to keep the community in one piece. They’re gorgeous books.”

The second suggestion this time comes from Emily Koch. Emily is the author of If I Die Before I Wake and Keep Him Close. Her latest novel, What July Knew, is published by Vintage on 9 February 2023.

She suggested The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings by Joanna Nadin, published by Mantle on 9 July 2022.

1988, Pencalenick, Cornwall.
At seventeen, Jason wants much more from life than working at his father’s pub and when fate, in the form of twins Daisy and Bea and their small circle of friends, offers him a glimpse of another, more glamorous, world, he’s determined to become a part of it. It’s Daisy who Jason is most entranced by, though. Everyone is: she’s the sun around which others orbit.
The trouble with the sun, of course, is that those who get too close risk getting burned – and by the end of the summer, one of the group will be dead.

2018, Camberwell, London.
When famous actress Daisy Hemmings decides it’s time to publish her autobiography, she chooses James Tate to write it. James is a ghost writer: it’s his job to step into other people’s shoes; to tell their stories for them. And he’s good at it. Very good. After all, he’s had years of practice at pretending to be someone he’s not.
But what happens when past and present – and truth and lies – collide?

Here’s what she had to say:

“Last year I read a brilliant novel called The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings by Joanna Nadin, which I was surprised not to see more readers talking about. It’s out in paperback in 2023 and it deserves to do really well. It reminded me of The Paper Palace – it has a dual timeline and explores the summers of the characters’ youth, but also is written in such a deft and beautiful way. It’s a gloriously shimmering and captivating novel, with a mystery at its heart that keeps you turning its pages.”

So there you have it two new to me books and one I really need to dig out from my TBR. Have you read any of them? Do you have a quiet book you’d like to shout about? Do let me know.

You can buy a copy of The Double Life of Daisy Hemmings from Bookshop.Org here. (This is an affiliate link and I may earn a tiny amount if you buy through it). It is also available from your local independent bookshop.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. “Best Wishes Sister B” sounds delightful. Especially during gray winter days! Thanks for bringing it onto the radar screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I hope you enjoy it if you read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that, a celebration of the quiet novel, there are so many audiences and so many novels, by sharing them there’s a better chance the book may find its perfect reader, so bravo for being a champion of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I find lots of people love this series, there are books they’ve loved and forgot about or they discover new ones. I sound like a broken record but there’s no use by date on a book and there’s something special about discovering a new old favourite.


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