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Duchess of Cornwall’s new The Reading Room book club: The titles to add to your list

From Delia Owen’s ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ to Hilary Mantel’s ‘The Mirror and The Light’, these are the novels Camilla recommends

Eva Waite-Taylor
Friday 15 January 2021 08:41 GMT
As a prolific advocate for reading, the duchess holds seven patronages related to literature
As a prolific advocate for reading, the duchess holds seven patronages related to literature (iStock/The Independent)

Calling all bookworms, The Duchess of CornwallCamilla Parker Bowles – has launched her very own book club, The Reading Room

Owing to the positive response after publishing her lockdown readings lists over Easter and during the summer, which included The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard, this new initiative was developed and aims to encourage people of all ages to discover new titles and authors. 

As a prolific advocate for reading, Camilla holds seven patronages related to literature, including the National Literacy Trust and the Royal Society of Literature, and has supported The Booker Prize since 2013. 

And she has spoken openly about the joy it can bring: “To me, reading is a great adventure. I’ve loved it since I was very small and I’d love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do. You can escape, and you can travel, and you can laugh and you can cry. There’s every type of emotion humans experience in a book."

The first four recommended titles for the book club have now been announced and are a selection of classics as well as newer reads. Each novel will be highlighted for a fortnight on The Reading Room Instagram, during which there will be information and details of the author, alongside a book club kit to spark further discussion among readers.

So, if you’re looking to satiate your lust for literature and discover Camilla’s first selection of recommended novels you’ve come to the right place. These are the top titles to add to your collection now. 

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

‘The Mirror and The Light’ by Hilary Mantel, published by Fourth Estate


The long-awaited conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror & the Light carries the reader spellbound. At 912 pages long, it's a rollercoaster of Cromwell's political scheming and robust imagination. Mantel's prose and ability to build such a rich historical context is uniquely powerful, making this one a classic not to be missed. It also featured in our review of the best novels for 2020, with our writer praising it for being a “dazzling masterpiece of a novel”. 

  1. £12 from Amazon
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‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens, published by Little Brown Book Group


One of Amazon's bestselling books of 2020, the hype for Delia Owens’s debut novel has been immense. Where the Crawdads Sing is at once a murder mystery, coming-of-age novel, and a celebration of nature. Set in date jumbling and tension building order from 1952 to 1970, the story follows Kya Clarke from aged six to 25 as she grows up in a North Carolina swamp after being abandoned by her family. After years of surviving alone, Kya pines for touch and love, and as two boys from the local town become intrigued by her, she opens up to the idea of a new life. Until the unimaginable happens. Character-driven, with a poignant sense of place and time, Where the Crawdads Sing is an animated story of a community beset by tragedy.

  1. £7 from Waterstones
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‘Restless’ by William Boyd, published by


An espionage thriller that intertwines of the life story of Eva, a Russian woman living in Paris and former British spy, and her daughter Ruth, a single mother who teaches English as a foreign language. The book opens with Eva handing Ruth a memoir of her life as a young woman in World War II. What ensues is a pacy exploration into buried secrets and identities. Featuring in the Duchess of Cornwall’s Easter reading list, she’s clearly a big fan. 

  1. £9 from Bookshop
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‘The Architect’s Apprentice’ by Elif Shafak


This historical novel is set in sixteenth-century Istanbul and follows the young Jahan and a rare white elephant Chota as he escapes from his abusive stepfather by pretending to be an elephant trainer. Spanning most of Jahan’s life, the pages are full of characters that Shafak has painstakingly researched in order to give the novel a vibrant and authentic feel. Covering themes of love, betrayal and war, this poignant tale is well worth a read.  

  1. £7 from Amazon
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