Top 5 Reads of 2017 from Literary Relish

I asked Lucy Rock of Literary Relish about the best books she read in 2017 and she came up with this list of five terrific recommendations. Two of these I have on the shelf waiting to be read, and one of them I hadn’t even heard of…


Halfway through 2016, with an abandoned blog and a bun in the oven, reading panic really started to set in. All too aware of the impending decline in any serious ‘me’ time, I read in a bit of a blind frenzy, gobbling up Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice (for the first time – yes, really) and all 864 pages of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, to name but a few.

2017 has been a funny old year, veering from having hours to spend reading pinned to the sofa to snatching the odd minute here and there. I was feeling rather indifferent about it all but, in fact, looking back I’ve experienced some really great stories this year. Here are my top 5:


  1. William – An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton

Newlyweds William and Griselda are enjoying a secluded honeymoon somewhere in the European wilderness when, unbeknownst to them, war breaks out: World War I, to be precise. Heartache and chaos ensue as they are thrust into the middle of the war-torn Belgian Ardennes. This is the most unique war narrative I have ever had the pleasure to read; Persephone Books rarely disappoint.


2. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

After reading her later (and bulkier) novel Americanah for book club last year, I felt it would be pretty poor of me not to pick up her earlier, Orange Prize-winning novel. It certainly didn’t disappoint, with a cast of characters that represent the breadth of Nigerian society; it turns out that my ignorance of the Biafran War was profound. I am a better (and considerably more entertained) person for reading this moving story.


3. East Lynne by Ellen Wood

Surely every girl needs a good period drama every once in a while, and this absolute stonker of a book is everything you need and more this Christmas, trust me. This Victorian sensation novel that charts the demise of Lady Isabel Carlyle following her elopement with fellow aristocrat Francis Levison is rather melodramatic and a mite far-fetched at times but, good golly, it is good.


4. Walking Home by Simon Armitage

A poetry fan I am not, but I do like Northern boy Simon Armitage and the Pennine Way, the subject of this novel, is a stone’s throw from my front door. In Walking Home Armitage recounts the time he decided to walk this tricky route ‘the wrong way around’ from North to South, paying his way through poetry readings at various eclectic venues across the way. He’s a funny guy, Armitage, and some of the bleak landscape he crosses is very close to my heart. Very enjoyable.


5. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I got all snobby about this list and tried to find something a little more unusual or a little more ‘literary’ from this year’s pickings, but the simple fact is that I have desperately needed pure entertainment lately and J.K. Rowling provides just that with her Cormoran Strike novels. A bit of well-written crime (which I hardly ever read) and lovely, atmospheric London feels.


Here’s to a little more ambitious reading in 2018. Merry Christmas, everyone!


A huge thank-you to Lucy for this guest blog!

Which one of her picks do you want to read first?

14 responses

  1. Ah – Walking Home is brilliant, as is Walking Away, which I read this year and will be one of my top ten, I THINK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved both books too. I think Walking Away is that little bit better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m confused. Is #5 Galbraith or Rowling?

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Rowling wrote the series under a pseudonym.


  3. I heard William being discussed on BBC four’s A Good Read and thought it might be something I’d enjoy although I understand there are some pretty violent moments in it. Having said that, having read Half of a yellow sun, I still think it’s the one I’d go for, that or the Armitage

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These all sound right up my street. I’m going for the lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Have read Walking Home and The Cukoo’s Calling. Cormorant Strike is a wonderfully drawn complex character

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Half a Yellow Sun has sat on my shelf a long time because I know it will be good so am “saving it for a rainy day “ which is really silly I know but she’s written so little that I have only this one left to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not read any of Adichie’s fiction yet but I’m really looking forward to it. Half of a Yellow Sun is the only one of her books I own.


  7. I agree that The Cuckoo’s Calling is great entertainment, and Half of a Yellow Sun is a gorgeous. (and now I have a good reason to read East Lynne.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a copy of East Lynne in a box in America. It came up frequently as a reference point during my Victorian Lit. MA but it seems like no one (bar Lucy!) has read it.


      1. I read Aurora Floyd, which is equally random, years ago – it’s a little unfortunate (a differently-abled person is, of course, a murderer) but it’d be nice to have a better perspective on the sensation novel context into which it fits.


    2. Ah, okay. I’ve read a different M.E. Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret. Can’t remember now if it was for undergrad or grad school.


  8. […] one of them (I talked about my absolute faves of last year for the wonderful Rebecca Foster in this here post on her fabulous […]


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