If you didn’t already know, I’ve been taking part in the Baileys Prize Shadow Jury this year. Along with five other passionate readers we made it our mission to read the twenty longlisted books, select our own shortlist and crown our own winner. We met over dinner and drinks for the long final debate during which each of the novels we shortlisted was discussed in detail – as well as several books we wished had been included on the judges’ original longlist. Personally, if Marilynne Robinson’s “Lila” had been listed for the prize I would have argued that it should have won.

Our own shortlist (slightly different from the official judges’ shortlist) included the books:

“Dear Thief” by Samantha Harvey
“The Country of Ice Cream Star” by Sandra Newman
“How to be Both” by Ali Smith
“The Shore” by Sara Taylor
“A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler
“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters

I’m delighted to announce our selected champion is Ali Smith!

I’m very happy with this decision as “How to be Both” is the book I wanted to win and I think it’s the book which will actually win the Baileys Prize. However, part of me does feel regretful that we didn’t choose “The Country of Ice Cream Star” because this is a tremendously inventive and radical novel which does deserve more attention. As I discussed in my review, I think there are flaws but these are outweighed by the tremendous vision Newman had to create such a complex alternative future and original narrator. Nevertheless, “How to be Both” is a tremendous novel that deserves to be celebrated. I’ll have all my fingers and toes crossed for Ali Smith at the Baileys Prize award ceremony!

Check out the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction site for more info about the shortlist and a fun The Brilliant Woman’s Guide to a Very Modern Book Club. 

Who do you want to win? Are there other novels you wish had been on the Baileys Prize shortlist?