Who didn’t like Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus? Readers raved about the main character. Elizabeth Zott is no conventional 1950s housewife. She forges her own path.

Here are three more novels featuring unconventional women of the same era, including one of mine, written under a pseudonym.

Like most working-class daughters, Caroline Wilby must support her family. Alone in a strange city, she must grab any opportunity. No matter how dangerous.

Star of the silver screen, Ursula Delancy, is abandoned by her lover. Already hounded by the press, it won’t be long before she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Patrice Hawtree, once the most photographed debutante of her generation, is now trapped in a loveless marriage. Her plans for security are jeopardised by her husband’s gambling addiction.

Each believes she has already lost in life, not knowing how far there is to fall.

Six years later, one cause will reunite them: a young woman is sentenced to death for a crime of passion. Silence is not an option.

Cover of At the Stroke of Nine O'Clock

Carol or The Price of Salt

Therese grew up in an orphanage, but she is no orphan. Her mother gave her away. Now she’s in New York, working in a department store. An older woman comes in – Carol – and Therese’s life changes with one look.

This story of obsessive love is intense, slow-paced and detailed in glances, moods, cigarettes, drinks and conversations. Tension increases throughout, as the two women try to outrun a private investigator. Carol’s ex-husband, determined to gain exclusive custody of their daughter, is paying the man to find evidence of an ‘unnatural’ relationship.

The trip across the Midwestern states, the social and economic feel of post-war America and the dizzying sensation of falling hopelessly in love is all conveyed with delicate detail through Therese’s passionate voice.

Today’s the day Nancy Maidstone is going to hang.

Wartime evacuee, land-girl, slaughterhouse worker, supermarket assistant, Master Butcher and now prisoner condemned to death. There’s a first time for everything.

The case makes all the front pages. Speculation dominates every conversation from barbershop to bakery. Why did she do it? How did she do it? Did she actually do it at all? Her physical appearance and demeanour in court sparks the British public’s imagination. Everyone has an opinion on Nancy Maidstone.

The story of a life and a death, of a post-war world which never had it so good and of a woman with blood on her hands.

This is the story of Nancy Maidstone.

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