The Lotus Eaters by Emily Clements (Hardie Grant Books, $34.99)
At 19 years old, Emily found herself in Vietnam on a whim, navigating its rice-terraced mountains and chaotic cities alone and terriffied. The intense experience was exactly what she needed to confront the ugliest parts of herself and the society she grew up in, both of which left her with cripplingly low self-worth and an unhealthy relationship with sex. This memoir is a lesson in self- acceptance and a must read for long-suffering people-pleasers.
Topics of Conversations by Miranda Popkey (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)
Miranda Popkey’s debut novel sizzles with sex and self-hatred. Unfolding across two decades, the author uses dialogue to create moments of tension and trust as her unnamed narrator winds her way through life and the female experience. Each chapter presents a different time and place, a different life experience, and a different conversation. Intrinsically intimate yet with a message that will ring true for so many, this book is honest and intelligent. What more can you ask for?
A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende (Penguin Random House, $34.99)
A consummate storyteller at the height of her powers, in this latest novel Allende returns to her favourite theme: the resilience of the human spirit. Historical fiction driven by the compelling narrative of a family whose lives are shaped by political events over which they have no control, this novel has all of Allende’s signature compassion and wisdom.
The Best Kind Of Beautiful by Frances Whiting (Pan Macmillan Australia, $32.99)
If you are looking for a soul-soothing story to comfort you during these trying times, then this is the book for you. Initially you will wonder if you are even meant to like Whiting’s quirky cast of characters belonging to a slightly mad, slightly famous musical family. But, trust us, they will win you over. Entertaining and endearing, The Best Kind of Beautiful is a sweet story with an uplifting message.
This article originally appeared in the march issue of marie claire.