The best books about spinsters

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to spinsters, and here are their favorite spinster books.
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What type of spinster book?


Too Much Flesh and Jabez

By Coleman Dowell,

Book cover of Too Much Flesh and Jabez

Corin Reyburn Author Of Binary Stars

From the list on speculative fiction for dismantling the patriarchy.

Who am I?

I’m a non-binary, neurodivergent, queer speculative fiction writer who loves a good revolution story—whether that’s a quiet, personal revolution, or a big, explosive overthrowing of the 1%. These books have helped me create my own odd fictional worlds as well as space for my psyche to survive in. I wanted to represent a variety of perspectives here from writers who are subversive, LGBTQ, BIPOC, and, for lack of a better word, brave. As a university writing teacher, I believe that the written word holds power and drives us closer to a utopia, or at least towards a more colorful future community where all are welcome and supported.

Corin's book list on speculative fiction for dismantling the patriarchy

Discover why each book is one of Corin's favorite books.

Why did Corin love this book?

The only male author on this list, Coleman Dowell’s Southern Gothic tale is included because it contains some of the most nuanced writing of female characters I’ve ever encountered. Too Much Flesh tells the narrative of a well-endowed farmer named Jim, his petite wife Effie, and a young man, Jabez, whose mutual obsession with Jim leads to, well, something of a frenetic climax. A story within a story, the tale is told to us by a “spinster schoolteacher” (the book was published in 1977), Miss Ethel, who channels her sexual repression into this story of the farmer.

Neither Miss Ethel nor Jim’s wife, Effie, come across as one-dimensional—they feel and act like real people on the page. Dowell himself was gay and deftly handles this queer narrative in a way that is somehow both quiet and stunning, and makes an interesting case study for the time period and genre. And…

By Coleman Dowell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Too Much Flesh and Jabez as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coleman Dowell's "Southern Gothic" is a novel about sexual repression. Miss Ethel, a spinster school teacher, decides to write what she calls a "perverse tale" about one of her former students, a Kentucky farmer named Jim Cummins. Endowing him with unnaturally large genitals, she spins a tawdry tale of his frustrated relationship with his petite wife. Expressing all the bitterness of "an old woman's revenge," Miss Ethel's tale is nonetheless a sensitive depiction of rural life in the early years of World War II.Dowell's masterful use of the tale-within-a-tale to explore psychological states makes "Too Much Flesh and Jabez" a…

Book cover of To Sir Phillip, With Love

Kirsten Fullmer Author Of Love on the Line

From the list on girls who don’t need to be saved.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated with stories about women who step outside the norm and accomplish their goals. Books that tell of girls who are shy or insecure, but find inner strength in the face of adversity, inspire me. My mother wasn’t afraid to guide me toward these stories when I was young, and I gave books with this theme to my daughters as well. It doesn’t matter where you start from, it only matters where you think you can go, and I love books that share this idea; especially stories of women who do amazing and unexpected things.  

Kirsten's book list on girls who don’t need to be saved

Discover why each book is one of Kirsten's favorite books.

Why did Kirsten love this book?

I have enjoyed all the books in the Bridgerton Series, even though, or maybe because, they are much different than the Netflix series by the same name. Julia Quinn is the master of writing about women with an attitude, and this book is no exception. Eloise, thought to be a hopeless spinster, finds herself with a pen-pal. She never expected the widower in the letters to propose, but willing to create a new life for herself, she runs off in the middle of the night to accept his offer. The story that follows is charming, realistic, and thoroughly enjoyable. 

I love Eloise in this story. She is smart and funny and brave. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks, or maybe she simply isn’t afraid to step outside her comfort zone and go against the norm. Whatever the case, the romance in this book is smart and funny. I adore a…

By Julia Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Sir Phillip, With Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the story of Eloise Bridgerton, in the fifth of her beloved Regency-set novels featuring the charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shondaland for Netflix.


Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close…

Along a Storied Trail

By Ann H. Gabhart,

Book cover of Along a Storied Trail

Amanda Cabot Author Of The Spark of Love

From the list on to forget you’re living in the 21st century.

Who am I?

Like Thomas Jefferson, I cannot live without books. And, while I read in a variety of genres, from early childhood on, my favorite stories were the ones that began with “once upon a time.” My fascination with historicals started with one of my father’s few books from his childhood, The Cave Twins, which introduced me to a world far different from suburban America. For me, the appeal of historicals is the opportunity to learn about another era and to escape from the modern world. And so, if you want to escape from what seems like an endless pandemic, I invite you to explore the worlds six talented authors have created.

Amanda's book list on to forget you’re living in the 21st century

Discover why each book is one of Amanda's favorite books.

Why did Amanda love this book?

One of the things I admire most about Ann Gabhart is that her stories are predictable – predictably wonderful, that is. There’s no predictability about her characters and plots. When I pick up one of her books, I know I’ll be transported to a different time and place and that while I’m immersed in her story, I’ll forget reality. In Along a Storied Trail she took me to rural Kentucky and a little-known (at least to me) part of history as she told the story of a packhorse librarian during the Great Depression. Her descriptions are so vivid and the dialogue so realistic that I felt as if I were there along with Tansy and Perdita. This is a story to savor, Gabhart’s best one yet.

By Ann H. Gabhart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Along a Storied Trail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Gabhart's skillful use of period details and the Appalachian landscape lend plenty of atmosphere to accompany the lessons of hope, compassion, and fortitude amid hardship. This is her best historical inspirational yet."--Publishers Weekly starred review

"Gabhart crafts an absorbing story that deeply explores the rich tradition of storytelling."--Booklist


Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn't mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it--or is…

Alice James

By Jean Strouse,

Book cover of Alice James: A Biography

Megan Marshall Author Of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

From the list on women’s writing on women’s lives.

Who am I?

I am the grown-up little girl who loved to read. I loved novels and children’s biographies—Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Annie Oakley. I imagined that if I could learn to write books that inspired readers and moved them to tears like my favorite books, I would have accomplished a great good. My first biography, The Peabody Sisters, took twenty years and won awards for historical writing. My second biography, Margaret Fuller, won the Pulitzer. But what matters more than all the prizes is when people tell me they cried at the end of my books. I hope you, too, will read them and weep over lives lived fully and well.    

Megan's book list on women’s writing on women’s lives

Discover why each book is one of Megan's favorite books.

Why did Megan love this book?

Alice James changed my life as a writer. It completely opened up the field of biography and pointed the way to the work I’ve been doing for almost four decades: writing women’s lives. Before Alice James, biographies had to be of famous people, usually men. Here was a book about the little sister of the great novelist Henry James and the eminent philosopher William James, a woman who had essentially done nothing with her own talent and brilliance except—luckily!—keep a diary. Jean Strouse read that diary and used it as the entry point for a whole book about the dynamics of an extraordinary family, about women’s choices in 19th century America, about invalidism and suppressed ambition. It’s a riveting psychological tale full of poignance and unexpected heroism.  

By Jean Strouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alice James as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alice James was the youngest child and only girl in a family that produced two of the most brilliant individuals in 19th-century America. Her elder brother, William, became the foremost psychologist of his time and her second brother, Henry, its greatest novelist. Her story reveals a troubled, highly intelligent woman who struggled to extract a sense of meaning and self from a life that had every outward appearance of failure. She was articulate, politically radical, funny, wise, difficult and intensely involved with her brothers and friends. This portrait sheds new light on the history of women, on the nature of…

Book cover of The Killings at Badger's Drift

H L Marsay Author Of A Long Shadow

From the list on classic English murder mysteries.

Who am I?

I grew up binge-reading murder mysteries and promised myself that some day, I would write one too. A Long Shadow is the first book in my Chief Inspector Shadow series set in York. Luckily, living in a city so full of history, dark corners, and hidden snickelways, I am never short of inspiration. When I’m not coming up with new ways to bump people off, I enjoy red wine, dark chocolate, and blue cheese—not necessarily together! 

H L's book list on classic English murder mysteries

Discover why each book is one of H L's favorite books.

Why did H L love this book?

This is the book that launched the popular television series Midsomer Murders. Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby, who unlike most fictional detectives has a happy home life, is called in to investigate the death of Miss Simpson, an elderly spinster. With the help of Sergeant Troy, he uncovers hidden scandals, rivalries, and secret affairs. The two men soon discover that Badger’s Drift isn’t as idyllic as it first appears.

By Caroline Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Killings at Badger's Drift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Badger's Drift is an ideal English village, complete with vicar, bumbling local doctor, and kindly spinster with a nice line in homemade cookies. But when the spinster dies suddenly, her best friend kicks up an unseemly fuss, loud enough to attract the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby. And when Barnaby and his eager-beaver deputy start poking around, they uncover a swamp of ugly scandals and long-suppressed resentments seething below the picture-postcard prettiness. In the grand tradition of the quietly intelligent copper, Barnaby has both an irresistibly dry sense of humor and a keen insight into what makes people…

Sutton's Spinster

By Scarlett Scott,

Book cover of Sutton's Spinster

Alyson Chase Author Of Disciplined by the Duke

From the list on naughty historical romance to heat up your nights.

Who am I?

I grew up reading nothing but mystery novels, which is why when I discovered romance, I found the ones I liked the best had a bit of intrigue to them. As Alyson Chase, I write Regency romances I like to read: full of adventure and mystery, deep emotional connections, and, yes, quite a bit naughty. Character is the most important thing to me, whether as a writer or reader, and the books on this list are full of characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

Alyson's book list on naughty historical romance to heat up your nights

Discover why each book is one of Alyson's favorite books.

Why did Alyson love this book?

One of the tropes I always one-click is the well-bred lady with an earthy, pull-himself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of guy. Sutton’s Spinster gives you all that and more. Jasper has built his wealth by running a successful gaming hell. When two young daughters land on his doorstep, he finds himself in need of a wife. Octavia dreams of creating a gossip journal, but needs a partner to provide the start-up funds. The heat between these two lights up the pages. I love how Jasper reacts to suddenly becoming a father, and how he transforms from a hard and cutthroat businessman to something softer because of Octavia. Scarlett Scott delivered with this one.

By Scarlett Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sutton's Spinster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From USA Today bestselling author Scarlett Scott comes a deliciously wicked new Regency series...

Jasper Sutton, London’s most dedicated scoundrel, needs a wife. He needs one quickly. He needs one yesterday, in fact. His requirements are precise. She has to be capable of mothering the wild twin daughters who have unexpectedly appeared in his life. She must also possess the patience of a saint and the understanding of an angel. Better still if she is plain and has no expectation of a true marriage. He is not about to reform his ways. But how is he to find such a…

Excellent Women

By Barbara Pym,

Book cover of Excellent Women

Emily Midorikawa Author Of Out of the Shadows: Six Visionary Victorian Women in Search of a Public Voice

From the list on that sing the praises of unsung women.

Who am I?

I am the author of Out of the Shadows: Six Visionary Victorian Women in Search of a Public Voice, and also the co-author (with Emma Claire Sweeney) of A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf. A historian and writer, I am interested in shining a light on lesser-known stories about the lives of women of the past and hopefully bringing them to wider public attention.

Emily's book list on that sing the praises of unsung women

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

The fiction of Barbara Pym is full of the kind of much-put-upon single women that society has tended to overlook. In her second published novel, Excellent Women, Pym’s heroine Mildred Lathbury, a clergyman’s daughter, describes herself as just the sort of person one can depend on in ‘the great moments of life—birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sale, the garden fête spoilt by bad weather.’ Mildred’s church-focused, 1950s existence might sound rather quaint, but, trust me, anyone assuming that the life she leads is miles away from their own will quickly be dispelled of that notion. The human issues and emotions Pym explores can be markedly progressive and have more than enough power to move the hearts of today’s readers. 

By Barbara Pym,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Excellent Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Orla Kiely Mildred Lathbury is one of those 'excellent women' who is often taken for granted. She is a godsend, 'capable of dealing with most of the stock situations of life - birth, marriage, death, the successful jumble sales, the garden fete spoilt by bad weather'. As such, though, she often gets herself embroiled in other people's lives - and especially those of her glamorous new neighbours, the Napiers, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks. One cannot take sides in these matters, though it is tricky, especially when Mildred, teetering on the edge of spinsterhood,…

Book cover of Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps

Julia Amante Author Of Let Us Begin

From the list on parent/child relationship leading to redemption.

Who am I?

Women’s fiction is about relationships and issues that women deal with daily. I wish I could write thrillers or fantasy—those are so much fun to read, but I’m most fascinated by people and the life-changing choices they make. Being the daughter of immigrants has made me obsessed with two things, one is identity and the second is success. My books touch on the discovery of self and how that leads to success. And if we're honest, our relationships with our parents have a massive effect on who we become and our beliefs. I’ve explored parent/child relationships in all my novels, but most intimately in Let Us Begin which is based on my father’s life.

Julia's book list on parent/child relationship leading to redemption

Discover why each book is one of Julia's favorite books.

Why did Julia love this book?

What do you do when you find out that the man you thought was your father, really isn’t? Well, you begin to question everything. If a mystery man is your real father instead of the man who raised you, then what does that make you?

When Marcela, a Latina animator learns that her father might be a white friend of her mother’s, she tries to prove that she is still Latina enough as she goes in search of her biological father.

Part of what makes us who we are is what we believe about ourselves, and in this book the character’s entire identity comes into question. My book is about a man’s search for the American Dream; however, to achieve success, you have to believe in yourself and have a clear understanding of who you are.

Immigrants, in many ways, leave their old identity behind to become a new version…

By Lara Rios,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Considered the family spinster because of her high-powered career and lack of marital prospects, Marcela Alvarez receives an unexpected shock when she discovers that her deadbeat dad is not Latino and embarks on a ten-step plan to reunited with her Chicana roots. A first novel. Original.

The Ladies of Missalonghi

By Colleen McCullough,

Book cover of The Ladies of Missalonghi

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Rue

From the list on women’s fiction with an unlikely heroine.

Who am I?

I'm a women's fiction novelist with a love for drama without trauma. As an avid reader myself, I write what I know—moving stories written for women and about women. In my books, I sweep you off your feet, lead your heart to a place it's never been before, make you think, make you fall in love, make you yearn for justice, make you aspire and hope and dream. And I promise a happy ending every time, or at least a realistic, thought-provoking tote of warm feelings you can take with you. I hope you enjoy my reading recommendations below! 

Amy's book list on women’s fiction with an unlikely heroine

Discover why each book is one of Amy's favorite books.

Why did Amy love this book?

The premise of this short novel sucked me in right away. Missy Wright is shy, unhappy, poor, and a spinster. She is stifled and demeaned by her overbearing sisters and the local small-town gossips where she lives. Despite the fact that Ms. McCullough paints the portrait of a fairly unsavory heroine in the form of Missy, I still found myself rooting for her, wishing with all my might that she would (under the most improbable circumstances) find love. When I write about a heroine in my own novels, I want my readers to see past appearances and the superficial trappings of our society’s ideals. That is what this novel does—it draws you in and makes you believe the impossible is possible if only we can see beyond what is right in front of our faces—that dreams really can come true, for all shapes, sizes, styles, and substance.

By Colleen McCullough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ladies of Missalonghi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An endearing tale, full of wit, warmth and romance, from the bestselling author of The Thorn Birds.

The Hurlingford family have ruled the small town of Byron, nestled in the Blue Mountains, for generations. Wealthy, powerful and cruel, they get what they want, every time.

Missy Wright lives with her widowed mother and crippled aunt in genteel poverty. Hurlingfords by birth, all three are victim to the family's rule of inheritance: the men take it all. Plain, thin and unforgivably single, it seems Missy's life is destined to be dreary.

But then a stranger arrives in town. A divorcee from…

Sister Noon

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Book cover of Sister Noon

Mary Volmer Author Of Reliance, Illinois

From the list on badass 19th century American women.

Who am I?

I don’t write about well-behaved women. I prefer rebels and outcasts, women who, by choice or circumstance, live outside of social norms. 19th-century American history is full of such women—if you know where to look. Hint: not in most public-school textbooks. They’re found, instead, in archives and libraries, in old newspapers and journals, in family letters and autobiographies. The characters in my most recent novel, Reliance, Illinois, were inspired by badass 19th-century women, such as Victoria Woodhull, Mary Livermore, and Olympia Brown. Each of the novels in the list below were inspired by or based on audacious women. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!  

Mary's book list on badass 19th century American women

Discover why each book is one of Mary's favorite books.

Why did Mary love this book?

This crazy quilt of a novel, set in San Francisco, chronicles the liberation of Lizzie, a forty-year-old spinster who is swept into the intrigues of the mysterious Mrs. Pleasant. Mrs. Pleasant, who works as a housekeeper, is rumored to be as rich as a railroad magnate, an angel of charity, a practitioner of voodoo, among other tantalizing (and some substantiated) possibilities.

As enthralled as Lizzie becomes with Mrs. Pleasant, what Lizzie discovers in this story is her own independence and authority. Several real historical figures, including Mary Ellen Pleasant, appear in the book. I love the way Fowler weaves fact with fiction, and how she places badass women at the center of the story.

By Karen Joy Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sister Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Words were invented so lies could be told' Mary Ellen Pleasant

San Francisco in the 1890s is a town of contradictions, home to a respectable middle class, but with the Wild West lingering in the imagination, and even the behaviour, of some residents. Lizzie Hayes, a seemingly docile, middle-aged spinster, is praised for her volunteer work with the Ladies' Relief and Protection Society Home, or the Brown Ark. She doesn't know it, but she's waiting for the spark that will liberate her from convention.

When the wealthy and well-connected but ill-reputed Mary Ellen Pleasant shows up at the Brown Ark…

Book cover of Miss Percy's Pocket Guide

Bjørn Larssen Author Of Why Odin Drinks

From the list on Terry Pratchett collaborations that never happened.

Who am I?

I’ve been a Pratchett fan since I first read The Colour of Magic in 1986. I was nine and suddenly obsessed. When he died, I cried; when I found out he left me – us – one last gift, I cried again. The best satire doesn’t just make you laugh through the tears and cry with laughter; it makes you think. Over the decades, Pratchett perfected this art. Nobody can replace him, although many authors, including myself, try to follow. Searching for them between the rock and the trying-too-hard place, sometimes I find diamonds. May they shine as brightly in your eyes as they do in mine.

Bjørn's book list on Terry Pratchett collaborations that never happened

Discover why each book is one of Bjørn's favorite books.

Why did Bjørn love this book?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that someone with a name like Miss Mildred Percy, a noted spinster living under her overwhelmingly generous and loving sister’s roof, does not inherit dragons’ eggs. Or bump into helpful and – one can’t help but notice – broad-shouldered, hat-wearing, single vicars. She’d swoon herself into dehydration if she knew what was still to come: raising a baby dragon (named Fitz); a proper Bad Boy villain with little money and relentless motivation (named Belinda); and, perhaps the most difficult, finding her own agency. Agnes Nitt would never. Perdita X Dream, however, might…

Miss Percy is the best book I’ve read in 2021 – it felt as if I inherited a manuscript signed by three of my favourite authors. Couldn’t recommend it more.

By Quenby Olson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Percy's Pocket Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.

Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.

The egg - as eggs are wont to do - decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”

But England has not…

The Unsuitable

By Molly Pohlig,

Book cover of The Unsuitable

Maxine Kaplan Author Of Wench

From the list on for NPCs at heart.

Who am I?

Hi! I'm Maxine Kaplan and I'm a writer who is also a genre magpie. My favorite thing to do as a writer is to take a background character, or non-playable characters in gamer-speak, and make them real. What’s an archetype? It’s a type. A character described by their occupation—the princess; the femme fatale; the tavern wench (ahem)—basically the tropey background players that nobody feels the need to unpack as idiosyncratic individuals, with vibrant inner lives. This list is full of books that do this sooooo well.

Maxine's book list on for NPCs at heart

Discover why each book is one of Maxine's favorite books.

Why did Maxine love this book?

This book combines a lot of potentially tired gothic signifiers into one slim package. You’ve got the tortured ghost of the young mother. The scarred young shut-in nearing spinsterhood. The domineering aunt tasked with marrying her off. The cold and distant father just as eager to unload her. However, none of these tropes go where you expect them to go. Iseult Wince, the titular unsuitable young woman, has an inner life and motivations that are deeply weird—borderline horrifying, but most importantly, weird, and all her own. Spinsterhood is the least of her problems. 

By Molly Pohlig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Unsuitable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Molly Pohlig's The Unsuitable is a fierce blend of Gothic ghost story and Victorian novel of manners that’s also pitch perfect for our current cultural moment.

Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck.

Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take…

4.50 from Paddington

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of 4.50 from Paddington

Janet Dawson Author Of Death Rides the Zephyr

From the list on mysteries on (and off) the tracks.

Who am I?

As soon as I found out about Zephyrettes, I knew I had to write about these real-life train hostesses who rode the rails on the old California Zephyr, which existed from 1949 to 1970. The only woman on a train crew, someone who keeps an eye on passengers and situations, anticipating and solving problems—who would be better placed to solve a mystery on a train? Jill is my traveling Miss Marple. I’m a former newspaper reporter, Navy journalist, and have been writing for decades, first the Jeri Howard series, then the Jill McLeod series, and lately a book featuring geriatric care manager Kay Dexter, The Sacrificial Daughter.

Janet's book list on mysteries on (and off) the tracks

Discover why each book is one of Janet's favorite books.

Why did Janet love this book?

Another Christie, out of a handful of books Dame Agatha wrote set on trains. Much as I like Poirot, I love Jane Marple, the quiet spinster from St. Mary Mead who knits, knows everyone, and is well-schooled in human nature and foibles. Talk about powers of observation. In this classic, Miss Marple’s friend Mrs. Elspeth McGillicuddy is traveling by train. At a moment when two trains are traveling side by side on different tracks, she looks out the window of her compartment and sees a man strangling a woman. The railway authorities don’t believe her—quelle surprise! With no other witnesses, no suspects, and no corpse, who will believe her? Jane Marple, of course, who has a plan to out the killer.

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 4.50 from Paddington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Agatha Christie's classic Miss Marple railway mystery, reissued in a beautiful new classic hardcover edition designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

'Oh, Jane! I've just seen a murder!'

For an instant the two trains ran together, side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth witnessed a murder. Helplessly, she stared out of her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman's throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away.

But who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects,…

The Wheel Spins

By Ethel Lina White,

Book cover of The Wheel Spins

Elisabeth Grace Foley Author Of Land of Hills and Valleys

From the list on vintage mystery-suspense.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved history, devoured mystery fiction, and scribbled my own stories. Today I combine all those passions by writing books in classic mystery-suspense style, but set in the place and the period of history that fascinates me the most: the American West. I firmly believe that the Old West should be treated not merely as a myth or a set of tropes, but a historical period in its own right, and so I love to use it as the setting for character-driven stories drawing on my favorite elements of the mystery genre.

Elisabeth's book list on vintage mystery-suspense

Discover why each book is one of Elisabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Traveling across Europe by train, Iris Carr re-enters her compartment to find that a friendly, talkative spinster who had befriended her has disappeared—and no one else will admit she was ever there at all. Why? The answer must be found before the train reaches its destination, and Ethel Lina White crafts a nail-biting race against time while also delving deep into the motivations of a tight cast of characters—exploring what leads some people to lie, and how an initially isolated and self-centered heroine becomes someone desperate to uncover the truth.

By Ethel Lina White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wheel Spins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oldtown is a historic place where rich people live. The sisterhood also lives there. The group, known as the ""Black Nuns"", had healing powers. But in Oldtown, the killer works, and a series of murders plunged the inhabitants into blind, reckless horror.

Book cover of The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

James Lawless Author Of Letters to Jude

From the list on understanding experimental and literary fiction.

Who am I?

I am a novelist, poet, and short story writer born in Dublin, Ireland. I have always been interested in literature particularly books which I deem as works of art and which throw light on the human condition, something which I try to do in my own work. I have broadcast my poetry and prose on radio and write book reviews for national newspapers. I divide my time now between Kildare and my little mountain abode in West Cork. 

James' book list on understanding experimental and literary fiction

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

I was so moved when I read The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne that it inspired me to write my novel with my protagonist Laurence J Benbo as a male equivalent of Judith Hearne, an innocent exploited by an uncaring world. The quotidian details of Judith’s life are delineated brilliantly by Moore in all her wretchedness reminiscent of some of the characters in Joyce’s Dubliners which Moore would have read and which possibly influenced him. The dark surroundings of Judith’s life lead her into a fantasy world aided by her one necessary weakness—alcohol. But, as Moore points out, it doesn’t have to end tragically. There is a glimmer of hope with life going on, but nothing as before.

By Brian Moore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of The Guardian’s “1,000 Books to Read Before You Die”

This underrated classic of contemporary Irish literature tells the “utterly transfixing” story of a lonely, poverty-stricken spinster in 1950s Belfast (The Boston Globe)

Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world.

Hailed by Graham Greene, Thomas Flanagan, and Harper Lee alike, The Lonely Passion of…