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The 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist

The 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist was announced overnight. I was impressed by the selection. I didn’t feel as though any major novels were left out and it was nice to see a few books that were new to me.

I’ve summarised my thoughts on those I’ve tried and found five words from the blurb for those I haven’t. Enjoy browsing the list!

Books I’ve tried:

The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Five words from the blurb: botanical, explorer, woman, independent, evolution

My favourite 2013 fiction release. Gilbert is so good she can even make a story about moss interesting! I’m hoping this wins the prize.

Eleven Days

Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter

Five words from the blurb: mother, soldier, Afghanistan, courage, love

Amazing writing which shows a mother’s relationship with her grown-up son. Fascinating information about US Navy SEAL training and society’s attitude to the armed forces. Highly recommended.

The Lowland

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri 

Five words from the blurb: India, brothers, crossroads, haunted, past

Gentle story about two Indian brothers who take different paths in life. It had some good scenes, but didn’t blow me away.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride 

Five words from the blurb: experimental, girl, violence, personal, struggle

If you enjoyed Riddley Walker you’re in for a treat! I found the writing style too impenetrable to enjoy, but if you have the patience to persevere I’m sure you’ll be rewarded.

Almost English

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson 

Five words from the blurb: London, Hungarian, relatives, strange, life

Quirky story about Hungarian family moving to London. Perfect for fans of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.

The Bear

The Bear by Claire Cameron 

Five words from the blurb: something, moving, shadows, woods, screams

Narrated by a five-year-old girl, this book was compelling but frustratingly simple.

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

Five words from the blurb: New York, wealthy, family, self-invention, suspense

I listened to the abridged BBC audio production of this one, but even that dragged! I don’t think Tartt is for me.


MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood  

Five words from the blurb: plague, group, survives, bio-engineered, humans

This is the final book in Atwood’s dystopian trilogy. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy Oryx and Crake (and so won’t be trying this one) but I’ve heard lots of good things so if you’re a fan of her other books then you’ll appreciate this.

Burial Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 

Five words from the blurb: Iceland, murderer, remote, farm, execution

Fantastic piece of historical fiction, but I found it lacking the Icelandic mindset.

The Flamethrowers

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

Five words from the blurb: fascination, motorcycles, art, dreamers, education, Italy

Fantastic writing, but too disjointed for me. If you have an interest in art or motorcycles you’ll probably love it.

The Luminaries

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Five words from the blurb: New Zealand, goldfield, men, crime, mystery

Well researched ambitious novel, packed with interesting ideas. Unfortunately the pace was too slow for me.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Five words from the blurb: America, Nigeria, experiences, race, relationships

Fantastic characters, but plot was a little too simple for me.


Books that I haven’t tried yet:

The Undertaking

The Undertaking by Audrey Magee 

Five words from the blurb: German, soldier, Stalingrad, hierarchy, regime

Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen 

Five words from the blurb: photographer, herione, unexpected, journey, love

The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout 

Five words from the blurb: accident, killed, father, childhood, trouble

The Strangler Vine

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter

Five words from the blurb: India, notorious, son, missing, questions

The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne 

Five words from the blurb: dogs, poisoned, manicured, lawns, Massachussetts

All the Birds, Singing

All The Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld 

Five words from the blurb: British, farmhouse, beast, sheep, strange

Reasons She Goes to the Woods

Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies 

Five words from the blurb: childhood, escape, woods, mystery, normal

The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

Five words from the blurb: Pakistan, Afghan, border, war, choices

What do you think of the Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction longlist?





16 replies on “The 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist”

Firstly, yay for Lea Carpenter – I’m so glad ‘Eleven Days’ made the longlist. It seems a decent list, though perhaps with few surprises. I’ve read six of them and already have copies of another 5, of which I might make ‘The Undertaking’ my next read. I’ll probably wait for the shortlist before buying any others.

Slightly off topic, Jackie, but I’ve never noticed before the almost haiku-ish poetry of some of your “five words from the blurb”s. A couple of them are genius:

British farmhouse.

Dogs poisoned manicured lawns, Massachussetts.

David, Yes, I’m really pleased ‘Eleven Days’ made the list. Thank you for persuading me to try it. I have a copy of ‘Still Life with Bread Crumbs’ here so will probably try that next, although I have my eyes on the copy of ‘The Dogs of Littlefield’ that is sitting on the shelf of a local library – I hope noone else takes it before I get to the library tomorrow morning!

I hadn’t noticed my unintentional haiku. It’s good to know I still have hidden talents!!

haha. I haven’t read any of these. I was kind of out of touch with books last year… At least I have heard of many of them. That’s a step in the right direction!

Kailana, There’s nothing wrong with not knowing about the latest releases – it’s all about finding great books, no matter what their age. Enjoy browsing through the list!

I don’t know enough about them overall. I’ve read two – Catton and Wyld – and will be reading Kent this month. Overall, from what I know though, it looks a pretty good list. A couple of others interest me – Gilbert, Adichie and Strout – in particular but I’m not sure whether I’ll get to them.

I haven’t read any of these but I have a copy of Burial Rites and I have already resolved to read the Gilbert novel. Of the others I’m not sure which I’ll end up reading, but there are some great choices on there. Those two heavyweights, The Goldfinch and The Luminaries both appeal to me.

I’ve read (5) of these Jackie and have several more on my TBR list — Hope Goldfinch wins:0 (Kind of surprised Quindlen’s book is on this list).

Though I wasn’t sure if I would tackle this year’s list, when I realized that I’ve already read seven, I began gathering up the rest. Some were already close at hand — the Gilbert and Lahiri, for instance — so it hasn’t taken much effort to add the majority to my stacks. I’m tremendously curious about Eimear McBride’s novel, but, like you, I might find the style a challenge, in which case I’ll dive into Lea Carpenter’s which also greatly intrigues me. Hope you find some more good ones in the remaining titles in your stack!

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