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Five Golden Apples: Tilly Loves Books Shares her Five Favourite Virago titles

Five Golden Apples: Tasnim, Reads.and.Reveries

Five Golden Apples: Tilly Loves Books


As part of our fiftieth anniversary celebrations we have partnered with some ardent Virago fans – each of our six Golden Viragos has curated a list of five Virago titles they adore – five books they think every Virago should have on their shelves.

First to share their list is Tilly aka @tillylovesbooks.

‘Virago is about stories for women, written by women. It’s fiercely feminist, but also inclusive and diverse. They publish books which start conversations and change the game!’ – Tilly 


Hush by Kate Maxwell

Hush by Kate Maxwell

If I were to ever write a novel, it would look a lot like this. Since becoming a mother, I often seek out novels which explore the darker side of motherhood. I always think that there’s one final taboo, and that’s admitting that maybe it wasn’t the right decision for you – and this is probably the first novel I’ve read which has really explored that in an honest and compelling way.
I think so many new mothers struggling to feel what all the books say you’ll feel will find comfort in a story like this, and it really opens up discussion.
The Red Bird Sings by Aoife Fitzpatrick

The Red Bird Sings by Aoife Fitzpatrick

I couldn’t believe this was a debut. It’s one of the most haunting and elegant novels I’ve read, and took my emotions on such a journey.
This novel is based on a true story which I’d never heard of, and it’s just full of incredible women who are ridiculed and ignored by men and yet never stop fighting for justice, even at the cost of their own pride.
I devoured this in a day – the exquisite writing, changing narratives and need for answers kept me hooked. I cried, and I raged, but mostly I was just in awe of the power of a mother’s love. A truly exceptional, feminist story.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron

A beloved modern classic for a reason – this is one of the wisest, sharpest, most honest and hilarious novels of the last fifty years. It was also one of the first books I read which made me feel it was acceptable to make light of dark times. I’ve always turned to humour when I’m struggling with loss or heartache, and so I found this story and Ephron’s writing (based on the collapse of Ephron’s own marriage) relatable and comforting.
I also especially adore the foreword added by Ephron years later, in which she refuses to apologise for writing about something so momentous in her life, regardless of the people it may have upset – a true feminist.
Another Mother by Susan Spindler

Surrogate by Susan Spindler

I’m a little obsessive about stories of motherhood, and this is, without a doubt, one of the darkest and most original I’ve read – it’s so brilliant and compelling that you could easily read it in a single sitting.
The main character Ruth is difficult to warm to, but also relatable, especially as she describes the feeling of standing next to her much younger daughter and no longer being seen as a sexy, attractive woman. I think most women go through that change of slowly feeling invisible and undesirable, and Spindler writes of this with real insight.
It also raises some brilliant questions about the ability to be a good mother if you weren’t raised by one. It’s an incredibly thought provoking novel, and great to have a character with so much life experience.
Love Marriage by Monica Ali

Love Marriage by Monica Ali

I just loved this story – I went in expecting a complicated novel about an interracial couple and pressures from their families, but it turned out to have such a bigger scope than simply one relationship. It covers addiction, religion, fidelity, ambition, friendship and so much more, with such perception.
The characters are especially brilliant and easy to empathise with. Usually questions of fidelity are fairly black and white, and yet this novel made me question all my existing beliefs, and helped me see the grey area. Ali clearly understands nuance and fallibility, and that shines through in the situations her characters find themselves in.
I can’t recommend this enough if you love to feel invested in your characters and prefer novels about real life and real issues.

Click here to buy Tilly’s reading list. Plus, get 25% off when you use the discount code:


Tilly Loves Books