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Ask a Bookseller: Bethan from Victoria Bookshop

Bookshops are the very best places to go for book recommendations – and booksellers are the friendliest, most knowledgeable of readers!

Bethan from Victoria Bookshop in Pembrokeshire has joined us to answer your questions and share her favourite picks.

Want a recommendation of your own? Submit a question for our guest booksellers and if it's answered, we'll send you a £15/€20 National Book Token to spend in your local bookshop.

The Victoria Bookshop interior

What makes Victoria Bookshop a great place to visit?

"We are a family business and we all get along and are easy going and that comes across in the shop, it’s a comfortable place to spend time. We have been on the high street for so long, the community know us now. We have a large range of books, including lots of books on Pembrokeshire. We also sell lots of signed copies, which are very popular." Bethan

I've just finished reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus which I loved. Was wondering if you could recommend anything in a similar vein with an inspirational female lead character? Thank you! – Kirsten

I really enjoyed The Change by Kirsten Miller, about three women, Nessa The Seeker, Jo The Protector and Harriet The Punisher. Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. These three strangers come together to avenge the innocent and punish the guilty. 

The Change by Kirsten Miller

What makes a psychological thriller exciting and indulging? – Trishna

I believe it's a story that grips you from page one, a plot that is clever often unexpected, full of twists and turns to keep you guessing, almost teasing your thoughts as the book unfolds as it plays with your emotions. Characters have to be realistic so you can imagine them in your head as you read and follow their journey but the writer almost lets the reader enter into the souls of the characters so that you can understand why they are acting in such a way especially if the plot is dark. The tension mounts as the story develops and fundamentally you just don’t want it to end!

Ask a Bookseller

I'm looking for great books of short stories by British writers. I've read good short stories by Muriel Sparks and Ian McEwan, but most short story books seem to be American. Thank you. – Linda

The Dylan Thomas prize winning Fresh Apples by Rachel Trezise is a modern and contemporary collection; Fool for Love, the collection by Deborah Moggach (the queen of social comedy!), is all about human nature, but my favourite collection is The Haunting Season, ghostly tales for long winter nights by eight Sunday Times bestselling authors. 

Fool for Love by Deborah Moggach

I decided last year to only read books written by women as a friend pointed out all my favourite books were by men. So what is your favourite book written by a woman you've read in the last few years that's really stayed with you, and you would now recommend each and every time? – Jennifer

I would recommend Elif Shafak. She is a wonderful writer and The Island of Missing Trees is a beautiful book, the fig tree that grows in the tavern in this story has stayed with me. I have also really enjoyed The Teifi Valley Coroner series by Alis Hawkins, about a young London barrister and his clerk in the 1850s. There are four books in that series.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

I recently read Mary McCarthy's The Group and loved it. Could you recommend some other novels that follow a group of women friends as they get older and go through the trials and tribulations of life? Thanks! – Catherine

I really enjoyed Firefly Lane and the follow up Fly Away by Kristin Hannah. They are about two childhood friends Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey. Tully is the ambitious one while Kate just wants a family. We follow their lives from childhood right the way through adulthood, as Tully finds fame and success and Kate gets married and has a child. All of the time you are rooting for these two women weathering the storms of friendship, jealously, anger, hurt and resentment.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah


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