My favourite books of 2014

I always enjoy putting together my list of favourites at the end of the year and reminding myself of all the great books I’ve read during the previous twelve months. Of course there have also been some that weren’t so great, but I prefer not to focus on those and concentrate instead on the books that I loved or that I found special or memorable in some way.

And here they are, my favourite books of 2014, in the order I read them. I apologise in advance for the length of this list!

Little Man What Now

Little Man, What Now? by Hans Fallada

From my review: “I’ll be very surprised if this one is not on my list in December! I loved every minute of this funny and charming yet dark and poignant German novel from 1932.”

Falls the Shadow

Falls the Shadow by Sharon Penman

From my review: “Long, complex and emotionally intense…this is the story of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, the French nobleman who ruled England for more than a year. I didn’t realise quite how much Penman had made me love Simon until I reached the end of his story.”

Can You Forgive Her

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

From my review: “As usual with a Trollope novel, I was completely drawn into the lives of the characters and enjoyed all 690 pages! This is definitely one of my favourite Trollope novels so far and I’m now looking forward to reading the rest of the Pallisers.”

The Convictions of John Delahunt

The Convictions of John Delahunt by Andrew Hughes

From my review: “A wonderfully moody and sinister historical crime novel…I loved this dark and atmospheric book and was completely gripped by John Delahunt’s fascinating story.”

The Moon in the Water

The Moon in the Water by Pamela Belle

From my review:The Moon in the Water follows the story of Thomazine Heron and her family, and is set during the English Civil War. I loved it from the first page to the last…it was a joy to discover this one and to know that I have many more Pamela Belle books still to look forward to.”

Insurrection - Robyn Young

Insurrection by Robyn Young

From my review:Insurrection is exactly the sort of historical fiction I love…I found it to be a fascinating, atmospheric tale of kings and knights, witches and soldiers, treachery, murder and war.”

The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

From my review: “I loved this book as much as I expected to and enjoyed being back in Hardy’s Wessex. The plot is a great one, with lots of twists and turns and plenty of drama; I was never bored once.”

The Second Duchess

The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas

From my review: “A fascinating historical novel set in Renaissance Italy and narrated by Barbara of Austria. Although the back cover of this book promised “conspiracy, intrigue and murder”, I was still surprised that the story had such a strong mystery element.”

The Devil in the Marshalsea

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

From my review: “I found The Devil in the Marshalsea very entertaining and fun to read. As a mystery novel, it kept me guessing right until the a work of historical fiction it’s equally impressive.”

Harristown Sisters

The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric

From my review: “I loved this book, the first I’ve read by Michelle Lovric, and I would agree that it really is a ‘splendid history’. One of my favourite books of the year so far.”

An Officer and a Spy

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

From my review: “This is the first book I’ve read by Robert Harris…and guess what? I loved it! An Officer and a Spy really is a fascinating novel and took me through a range of emotions from shock to frustration to absolute outrage!”

Assassin's Apprentice

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

From my review: “Yet again I have book blogging to thank for helping me to discover an author who I think is going to become a favourite…Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book of The Farseer Trilogy seemed the logical place to start, and what a great book it turned out to be!”

The Crystal Cave

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

From my review:The Crystal Cave introduces us to Myrddin Emrys, better known as Merlin…A great book and now one of my absolute favourites by Mary Stewart.”

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

From my review: “It’s a gentle, slow-paced novel but completely compelling and, despite the lack of drama, I found it difficult to put down…The ending is perfect too.”

Bitter Greens

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

From my review: “There’s just so much packed into this novel: the scandals and intrigues of the 17th century French court, a version of Rapunzel much darker and more compelling than the one I remember from my childhood, a vivid depiction of Renaissance Italy, magic and witchcraft, religious persecution, stories within stories, and much more.”

A History of Loneliness

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

From my review: “A very insightful and thought-provoking novel and my favourite John Boyne book so far. I loved this book and am so glad I still have so many of his earlier novels left to explore!”


Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald

From my review: “What a great book! A wonderful setting, a beautiful romance, characters I really cared about, an exciting story and lots of fascinating historical detail…definitely one of my favourite books of the year.”

Don Quixote

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

From my review: ” It’s fun and imaginative and entertaining – and I loved it… I’m going to miss Don Quixote and Sancho after spending so much time with them this year!”


What about you? What are the best books you’ve read this year? Have you read any of the books on my list?

30 thoughts on “My favourite books of 2014

  1. jessicabookworm says:

    I sadly haven’t read any of the books on your list but I would love to read The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart and I have Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb on my kindle to read. I’ve done a post for my top 10 reads which will be up soon.

  2. Matilda says:

    Remains of the Day is the only one I’ve read on your list and I adored it. You’ve inspired me to read some Trollope this year – I’ve never read any but I think I should judging from your reviews!

    • Helen says:

      Trollope is one of my favourite Victorian authors. His Barsetshire series is wonderful, but I’m enjoying his Palliser novels too – I hope you find you love him as much as I do!

  3. Delia (Postcards from Asia) says:

    What a great list, Helen, it looks like historical fiction ruled this year. I liked your review for The Convictions of John Delahunt, that goes to my TBR.
    I want to read Assassin’s Apprentice next year, I hear it’s really good and I’m getting into fantasy more and more.
    I’ve read a book by John Boyne this year, This House is Haunted, you might like it.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, this has been a good year for historical fiction! The Convictions of John Delahunt was a great book…very original and unusual.
      I hope you enjoy Assassin’s Apprentice. I loved it, and the other two books in the Farseer Trilogy too.

  4. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    Oh my, these look wonderful! I read The Crystal Cave this year too, after somehow managing to avoid it for many years.
    Since you are obviously well versed in historical novels and mysteries, I’m going to ask if you might be aware of a book that has been eluding me for a long time. About ten (?) years ago I read a fairly new book, followed by at least one sequel, that had a heroine in Renaissance Europe leaving her home and traveling about, with some mystery or danger going on…she had an older male companion I believe. I’m sorry this is so vague, but although I remember liking the book I cannot for the life of me call up any more details! Do you have any idea what it might be? The book also had a lovely cover of a young woman, possibly based on an actual painting.
    At any rate, thanks for this list which is going to provide temptation for some months to come.

  5. Lizzi says:

    I have a copy of Little Man What Now that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, so I think that might be my next book – your review is very encouraging! I also very much want to read Bitter Greens having just read and enjoyed The Wild Girl. Great post!

  6. litlove says:

    I love books of the year list and this is such an interesting list! You remind me most of all to reread Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy (or were there four in the end?). I read it years and years ago and loved it and I imagine I’d love it still. I’m also hoping to read the Michelle Lovric too, before the end of 2015.

    • Helen says:

      I think it was originally a trilogy, with two more books published later. I’m looking forward to reading them all after enjoying The Crystal Cave so much.

  7. Lisa says:

    I love these lists – yours is wonderfully diverse. You have some wonderful books ahead of you, with the Pallisers. I hope 2015 brings you even more great books. I am mulling over my own list, and meanwhile adding books to my “to read” list! I

  8. aartichapati says:

    Ooh, the cover of that Lovric book is gorgeous! I would stop at the shelf for that one.

    I loved Stewart’s entire Merlin series when I read it – I hope you enjoy the other books in the series, too.

  9. The Little Reader Library says:

    This is a lovely list. I’m glad you loved The Mayor of Casterbridge, it’s one of my favourite books. Some here on my tbr pile which I’m really looking forward to, such as the Lovric. I’d love to read more by Hans Fallada, so will look out for this one. Lindsay

    • Helen says:

      Thanks Lindsay. I really loved the Hans Fallada book, although it was quite different from the other books of his that I’ve read. And I hope you enjoy the Harristown Sisters!

  10. Sam (Tiny Library) says:

    A lovely list! If you enjoyed Bitter Greens, you should try The Wild Girl too, it is just as good (perhaps even more so).
    And the only Lovric I’ve read is The Book of Human Skin, which I loved, so I’m going to try out the one you mentioned. Happy reading in 2015!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks, Sam! The Harristown Sisters is the only Michelle Lovric book I’ve read – I’ll have to put The Book of Human Skin on my list to read in 2015.

  11. Jo says:

    A very different list and not one of them I have read. However many books from your blog are on my wishlist! Happy New Year. Here is to some great books new and old in 2015.

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