When I drafted this post I wrote a long rigmarole about criteria for inclusion, giving what I thought might be helpful analogies and definitions of 'best' as it applies to my choices here. On reflection I've scrubbed all that as we can do without it, so following on from Friday's first batch of fiction, here's my choice from the second half of the year, listed in the order in which I read them:
The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas - lush, romantic fiction, an escapist treat of a book.
Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold - a novel about guilt, but one which brings light and warmth to the subject; perceptive, compassionate, atmospheric, optimistic and highly readable.
The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay - a work of great poise, sensitivity and intelligence about faith, belief, loneliness and love.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday - this novel hasn't had a post of its own (though its author has), but it's laugh-out-loud funny, very sad, most cleverly structured, and enormously entertaining.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey - no post yet for this one either, as I finished it only yesterday and feel quite lost without it now. A beautiful, magical book - thoughts on it soon.