We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Looking back on Virago’s 2023

From award-winning sports memoirs to bestselling translated fiction, Virago has published a list of astounding hardbacks this year. Scroll down to explore the list and discover your new favourite read.


Good for a Girl by Lauren Fleshman


Lauren Fleshman

Lauren Fleshman was of the most decorated collegiate athletes of all time and a national champion as a pro, before becoming a coach for elite young female runners. Every step of the way, she has seen how our sports systems fail young women and girls as much as empower them.

Part memoir, part manifesto, Good for a Girl is Fleshman’s story of falling in love with running as a girl, battling devastating injuries and self-doubt, and daring to fight for a better way for female athletes.





A Wild and True Relation by Kim Sherwood


Kim Sherwood

A ground-breaking literary historical novel by the award-winning author of Testament and Double or Nothing, the new Bond series.

A Wild & True Relation opens during the Great Storm of 1703, as smuggler Tom West confronts his lover Grace for betraying him to the Revenue. Leaving Grace’s cottage in flames, he takes her orphaned daughter Molly on board ship disguised as a boy to join his crew. But Molly, or Orlando as she must call herself, will grow up to outshine all the men of Tom’s company and seek revenge – and a legacy – all of her own.

‘Remarkable’ Hilary Mantel
‘A vivid, narrative-packed splice of historical fiction’ Daily Mail


A Stone is Most Precious Where is Belongs


Gulchehra Hoja

A powerful and urgent memoir by Uyghur activist Gulchehra Hoja – a remarkable woman who went from being a beloved star on Chinese children’s TV to a journalist whose reporting on the oppression of her people led to her entire extended family being imprisoned. Filled with the beauty of East Turkestan and its people, A Stone is Most Precious Where it Belongs is the story of a woman who has been willing to risk her own life to expose the truth.

‘This gripping memoir conveys the courage and cost of telling a truer story’ Guardian Book of the Day
‘A memoir of an extraordinary life, which takes in the past 50 years of Xinjiang’s history’ The Times
‘Revelatory’ Sunday Telegraph


Before the Light Fades by Natasha Walter


Natasha Walter

After the sudden death of her mother at age 75, Natasha Walter was thrown into a time of bewilderment and sadness.
It was only when she began to search back through Ruth’s history, that she began to understand how her life led to death by her own hand. She learns that Ruth had been brought up to be a conventional young woman, but chose to take huge risks and even break the law for her beliefs in the nuclear disarmament movement of the 1960s.
Honest about loss, this memoir also searches for what is valuable in the legacy of a family who lived through some of the great crises of the twentieth century. Without false hope, and with honest passion, Natasha Walter shows us why, even when success is far from assured, it is always important to stand up for what you believe.

Natasha was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. She chatted to host Lucy Scholes about the continued relevance of Living Dolls in terms of the unfinished revolution of feminism and dive into Before the Light Fades.

Click here to to the episode.


Womb by Leah Hazard


Leah Hazard

Written with wisdom, warmth and nuance, and combining the author’s years of experience as a midwife with medical history, scientific discovery and journalistic inquiry, Womb is an extraordinary exploration of a woefully under-researched and misunderstood organ. Above all, the book reveals that the uterus is more than the sum of its biological parts: it influences all our lives in the twenty-first century, and how we celebrate, medicate and legislate the womb might yet control where we go from here.
‘A gripping exploration of the science of the uterus, the politics of medicine and the future of reproductive freedom’ New Statesman
‘Page for page, I may not have ever learned more from a book‘ Rob Delaney, author of A Heart that Works
‘It will change the way you think about bodies forever’ Rachel Clarke, author of Dear Life
‘Empowerment in book form’ Maxine Mei-Fung Chung, author of What Women Want
‘A phenomenal book’ Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women

Furies: Stories of the Wild Wicked and Untamed


Stories of the Wild, Wicked and Untamed

In this blazing cauldron of a book, fifteen bestselling, award-winning writers have taken up their pens and reclaimed these words, creating an entertaining and irresistible collection of feminist tales for our time.

Margaret AtwoodSusie BoytEleanor CrewesEmma DonoghueStella DuffyLinda GrantClaire KohdaCN LesterKirsty LoganCaroline O’DonoghueChibundu OnuzoHelen OyeyemiRachel SeiffertKamila Shamsie and Ali Smith – introduced by Sandi Toksvig.




Arline Geronimus

Fusing science and social justice, Weathering offers an urgent and necessary exploration of how systemic injustice erodes the health of marginalized people. Until now, there has been little discussion about the insidious effects of social injustice on the body. Weathering shifts the paradigm and provides compelling solutions, shining a light on the topic and offering a roadmap for hope.

‘Monumental ‘ IBRAM X. KENDI
‘Eloquent, comprehensive and compassionate’ LINDA VILLAROSA
‘Superbly insightful’ HARRIET A. WASHINGTON
Butter by Gayl Jones


Gayl Jones

Gayl Jones’s long career began with her blistering 1975 debut, Corregidora, which was edited by Toni Morrison, and she is increasingly recognised as one of the great literary writers of the twentieth century. In this new collection of short fiction, Jones’s unique talents are displayed in a range of settings and styles, from the hyper-realist to the mystical, in novella-length stories, intricate multi-part narratives and in compelling fragments.

‘A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers’ Tayari Jones, author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
‘Gayl Jones is a literary legend’ – Yara Rodrigues Fowler, author of THERE ARE MORE THINGS
‘Her prose is intricate, mesmerizing, and endlessly inventive and subversive’ Deesha Philyaw, author of THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES


8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster by Mirinae Lee


Mirinae Lee


As playful and thought-provoking as it is compelling, as brutal and harrowing as it is achingly poignant and tender, this is a novel about love and war, deceit and betrayal, about identity, storytelling and the trickery required for survival.
‘Captivating’ New York Times
‘Dazzling’ Financial Times
‘Heartbreaking’ Monica Ali


The Black Angels by Marua Smilios


Maria Smilios

New York City, 1929. A sanatorium, a deadly disease, and a dire nurse shortage.

So begins the remarkable true story of the Black nurses who helped cure tuberculosis, one of the world’s deadliest plagues, told alongside the often strange chronicle of the cure’s discovery.

It’s everything that I love. It’s about women whose names have been forgotten – until now. I am so passionate about it’ Sandi Toksvig, BBC Two Between the Covers


The Rooster House by Victoria Belim


Victoria Belim

Inspired by the author’s love for her family, and peopled by warm, larger-than-life characters who jostle alongside the ghostly absences of others, The Rooster House is at once a riveting journey into the complex history of a wounded country and a profoundly moving tribute to hope and the refusal of despair.

Victoria was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. In this episode, Victoria and Lucy Scholes unpick Victoria’s fascination with learning languages; the rich tradition of Ukrainian poetry and the frustrations and excitement of translating it; our obsession with the little details of how other people live; and the continued relevance of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.

Click here to to the episode.


Mother Tongue by Jenni Nuttall


Jenni Nuttall

A rich, provocative and entertaining history of women’s words – of the language we have, and haven’t, had to share our lives. Inspired by Nuttall’s deep knowledge of the English language as well as conversations with her teenage daughter, this is a book for anyone who loves language – and for feminists who want to look to the past in order to move forward.

‘Fascinating, intriguing, witty, a gem of a book’ KATE MOSSE
‘This superb book teems with historical marvels and their 21st century resonances.’ REBECCA WRAGG SYKES, author of Kindred


Where are you from? No, Where are you Really From? by Audrey Osler


Audrey Osler

A story of migration, identity and belonging, drawing on the stories of people from Audrey Osler’s mixed-heritage family, over three centuries. For people of colour the questions, Where are you from? No, where are you really from? often imply more than simple curiosity. They are political questions of identity, since the assumption (naive or aggressive) is that to be British and to belong you must be white.

Audrey was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. She chatted to host Lucy Scholes about ‘Britishness’ and the conflict between identity and belonging; the varied research methods Audrey uses to uncover the minute details of individual lives in history; and the power of stories to bring us together.

Click here to to the episode.


Thoroughly Modern by Sarah Knights


Sarah Knights

The pioneering life of Barbara Ker-Seymer, photographer, and her brilliant Bohemian friends.

Today, Ker-Seymer’s photographs are known for whom they represent, rather than the face behind the camera, an irony underpinned by the misattribution of some of her most daring images to Cecil Beaton. Yet her intelligence, sparkle, wit and genius enabled her to link arms with the surrealists, the Bloomsbury Group, the Bright Young Things and, most gloriously, the worlds of theatre, cabaret and jazz.

With unprecedented access to private archives and hitherto unseen material, Sarah Knights brings Barbara Ker-Seymer and her brilliant bohemian friends vividly to life.


The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue


Caroline O’Donoghue

‘If you’ve ever been young, you will love The Rachel Incident like I did’ Gabrielle Zevin, author of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

The Rachel Incident is an all-consuming love story. But it’s not the one you’re expecting. It’s unconventional and messy. It’s young and foolish. It’s about losing and finding yourself. But it is always about love.

Caroline was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. Listen as Caroline and our host Lucy Scholes discuss the intersection of Irish women’s fiction with the history of reproductive rights in Ireland, actively reading people you don’t agree with, the emptiness of the phrase ‘girl power’ and misogyny in cultural spaces.

Click here to to the episode.


Beware the Woman by Megan Abbott


Megan Abbott

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott, a chilling and compulsive novel about a family holiday that takes a terrifying turn.

‘Splendidly tense and atmospheric – a contemporary Rebecca’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘A novel of almost unbearable tension‘ IRISH TIMES
‘Stunningly twisty’ ASHLEY AUDRAIN, author of The Push


Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Big Girl is an unforgettable portrait of a queer Black girl as she learns to take up space in the world on her own terms.
‘Absolutely incredible. Beautiful, powerful writing. These pages will stay with me forever’ CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS, author of QUEENIE
‘A gift as big, beautiful and complicated as living itself’ Jacqueline Woodson, author of RED AT THE BONE
‘Hilariously funny and quietly devastating’ Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of PATSY and HERE COMES THE SUN
‘There are three books on earth that I would give anything to be able to write and reread until the suns burns us up. Big Girl is one of those books’ Kiese Laymon, author of HEAVY

Mecca was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. She chatted to host Lucy Scholes about coming-of-age fiction, beauty standards, women’s bodies and matrilineal traditions.

Click here to to the episode.


The Unfamiliar by Kirsty Logan


Kirsty Logan

An unconventional, unexpectedly funny, brutally honest memoir about infertility, pregnancy and motherhood.

Moving and immersive, and written with wisdom, disarming humour and raw honesty, The Unfamiliar casts a fresh eye on motherhood and challenges our assumptions about pregnancy, gender roles, queer identity and what it means to be a parent.

Kirsty was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. She she talks with Lucy Scholes about writing like no one is reading, pregnancy journeys, disobedient bodies, the gift of sperm donation, and breaking the rules of memoir writing.

Click here to to the episode.


Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej


Alyssa Songsiridej

A wholly new kind of coming-of-age story about lust, punishment, artistic drive and desires that defy the hard-won boundaries of the self.

‘Deeply empathetic and horny’ CARMEN MARIA MACHADO
‘Will quietly engulf you in flames’ LING MA
‘So incredibly hot’ RACHEL YODER
‘Hypnotic, sexy, smart’ MELISSA FEBOS


Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo


Veronica Raimo

Narrated in a voice as wryly ironic as it is warm and affectionate, Lost on Me seductively explores the slippery relationship between deceitfulness and creativity (beginning with Vero’s first artistic achievement: a painting she steals from a school classmate and successfully claims as her own). Deceptively simple, its tenderness offset by moments of cool brutality, Lost on Me is a masterwork of human observation.
‘Deliciously enjoyable’ Katherine Heiny
‘I adored it Naoise Dolan
‘Hilarious’ Roddy Doyle
‘Thrillingly original’ Monica Ali

Veronica was a guest on the latest season of OurShelves. She talks with Lucy Scholes about the line between fiction and auto-fiction, drawing the curtain back on the creative process, and the many idiosyncrasies of language that arise during the translation of fiction.

Click here to to the episode.


The Six by Loren Grush


Loren Grush

The remarkable true story of America’s first women astronauts.

In The Six, acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic – and sometimes deeply sexist – media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark.


The Red Bird Sings by Aoife Fitzpatrick


Aoife Fitzpatrick

A prize-winning, spine-tingling gothic suspense novel based on a real-life murder trial in 1897 West Virginia.

Sunday Times ‘Best Historical Fiction Book of 2023’
‘A novel that demands you turn the pages’ THE TIMES, BEST HISTORICAL FICTION
‘A gothic mystery pulsing with suspense’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘An intense, memorable tale’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Brilliant’ IRISH TIMES
I was tenterhooked from the very first to the very last page’ JO BROWNING WROE, author of A Terrible Kindness
‘Compelling’ ANNE ENRIGHT
Truly superb‘ VICTORIA MACKENZIE, author of For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain


The Story of the Forest by Linda Grant


Linda Grant

From the flour mills of Latvia to Liverpool suburbia to post-war Soho, The Story of the Forest is about myths and memory and about how families adapt in order to survive. It is a story full of the humour and wisdom we have come to relish from this wonderful writer.
‘Epic and marvellously entertaining’ Financial Times
‘Magnificent… I want to press a copy on everyone I know’ Nigella Lawson
‘Epic, magnificent, beautiful… I couldn’t put it down’ Philippa Perry
‘Jewel-like clarity… exceptional’ Richard Coles
‘Exquisite writing [and] a triumphant, elegant ending’ Mail on Sunday
‘An intelligent family saga… ambitious and moving and funny’ Tessa Hadley