Grazia’s Book Club Recommends Us Three, By Ruth Jones

Us Three, Ruth Jones' second best-selling book, had us crying, laughing, then crying... you get the picture. It's out in paperback, now.

Ruth Jones Us Three

by Rhiannon Evans |
Updated on

The trip of a lifetime, first loves, broken hearts, mistakes, laughs, grief and motherhood – there’s a lot covered in Ruth Jones’s second novel, Us Three. But then, over 40 years of friendship, a lot does get covered.

While love and romance are part of the lives of Lana, Catrin and Judith, at the forefront of Us Three is their friendship. Avowed best friends for life (on a Curly Wurly wrapper no less), the book follows the Coed Celyn girls as they become women, stretch their wings on a post-school holiday of a lifetime and enter the real world outside their Welsh hometown… and realise that even the biggest promises can be hard to keep.

Realistically capturing the essence of close female friendship between three very different women in a way most of us will recognise, Ruth’s novel has already been a Sunday Times number one best-seller, but is now available in paperback – the perfect read for wherever summer might take us.

These friendships are a gift and I don’t take them for granted.

From the very beginning, Ruth – best known for writing and starring in Gavin And Stacey – knew it was key that the book focused on friendship, most of all.

She told Grazia, ‘My debut novel Never Greener had been a love story of sorts – albeit a bit of a messed up one! I wanted to move away from that and explore a different relationship arena, the arena of lifelong friendship. I’ve been very blessed with solid, loyal friendships in my life – I’m still close friends with girls (women!) I knew as a child and we have shared the good as well as the bad times in life; passed the happy and sad milestones. So the friends I celebrated passing my driving test with are the same friends who were at my wedding and my dad’s funeral.

'These friendships are a gift and I don’t take them for granted. That’s why I dedicated Us Three “To my bold and beautiful bad-weather friends”.’

And ultimately, Ruth hopes readers will come away from her book uplifted. ‘I’d like people who read Us Three to feel they’ve made new friends in Catrin, Judith and Lana. Essentially the novel has compassion and camaraderie at its heart with a few laughs on the way, especially with some of the secondary characters like Judith’s awful mother and the Kelly family’s comedy priest. It’s a bit of a love letter to Welsh characters and some of the wonderful people I’ve met growing up who’ve inspired my writing.’

‘Us Three’, by Ruth Jones is out in paperback now


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Best books of 202148 of 89

The Split by Laura Kay - Out now

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless... but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily's cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism. Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills... or will their ridiculous plan pay off...?

Best books of 202149 of 89

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon - Out now

Nothing But Blue Sky is a precise and tender story of love in marriage - a gripping examination of what binds couples together and of what keeps them apart.Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage? David thought so. But when his wife Mary Rose dies suddenly he has to think again. Figuring out who Mary Rose really was and the secrets that she kept - some of these hidden in plain sight - makes David wonder if he really knew her. Did he even know himself?

Best books of 202150 of 89

Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan - 3 June

The 'taut and mesmerizing follow up to Tangerine'. In Venice, Frances Croy is working to leave the previous year behind: another novel published to little success, a scathing review she can't quite manage to forget, and, most of all, the real reason behind her self-imposed exile from London: the incident at the Savoy.

Best books of 202151 of 89

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce - 24 June

A sequel to A.J. Pearce's best-selling debut Dear Mrs Bird. A delightful and poignant story of courage, friendship and love on the Home Front at the height of World War II, and every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship, a tribute to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.

Best books of 202152 of 89

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam

Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future all mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything.Dreaming big, they come up with a revolutionary idea: to build a social networking app that could bring meaning to millions of lives. While Asha creates an ingenious algorithm, Cyrus' charismatic appeal throws him into the spotlight.When the app explodes into the next big thing, Asha should be happy, shouldn't she? But why are decisions being made without her? Why does she feel invisible in the boardroom of her own company?

Best books of 202153 of 89

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd - 8 July

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children. One morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy's husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder - what if he was the one who took the boat? As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined…

Best books of 202154 of 89

Fragile Monsters by Catherine Menon - Out now

In her stunning debut novel Catherine Menon traces one family's story from 1920 to the present, unravelling a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and redemption against the backdrop of natural disasters and fallen empires. Written in vivid technicolour, with an electric daughter-grandmother relationship at its heart, Fragile Monsters explores what happens when secrets fester through the generations.As they will learn, in a place ravaged by floods, it is only a matter of time before the bones of the past emerge.

Best books of 202155 of 89

Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee - Out now

Cunning Women is an addictive novel from a magnetic new voice in historical fiction, sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent, The Binding, and The Mercies.Set in Lancashire in 1620s as the Pendle witch trials rage, this is the enthralling story of the Haworths, a family of healers, secret keepers, and 'cunning women' who are viewed with much suspicion by their community. Elizabeth lee has conjured an engrossing tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Witch Trials.

Best books of 202156 of 89

Another Life by Jodie Chapman - Out now

Another Life - a truly great novel about first loves, and how all relationships - whether between families, between friends or between lovers - deepen and change over the years. A novel in which David Nicholls' Sweet Sorrow meets Normal People, crossed with the real-life divided loyalties of Educated.Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She's grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation - hints of the people they hope to become.But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she's ever believed in, and everyone she's ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn't stop her.Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick's life. But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that's endured decades, and the promises they've made to others along the way.

Best books of 202157 of 89

Lives Like Mine by Eva Verde - 10 June

Meet Monica, the flawed heroine at the heart of Lives Like Mine. With her three children in school, Monica finds herself wondering if this is all there is. Despite all the effort and the smiles, in the mirror she sees a woman hollowed out from putting everyone else first, tolerating her in-laws' intolerance, and wondering if she has a right to complain when she's living the life that she has created for herself.Then along comes Joe, a catalyst for change in the guise of a flirtatious parent on the school run. Though the sudden spark of their affair is hedonistic and oh so cathartic, Joe soon offers a friendship that shows Monica how to resurrect and honour the parts of her identity that she has long suppressed. He is able to do for Monica what Dan has never managed to, enabling her both to face up to a past of guilty secrets and family estrangements, and to redefine her future.

Best books of 202158 of 89

The Islanders by S.V. Leonard - Out now

Her dream escape is about to become a nightmare...Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she's desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show ​LoveWrecked​, she can't pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous ​LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.But the island isn't the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets and time is running out...

Best books of 202159 of 89

Bad Choices by Lucy Vine - 10 June

One big mistake...Nat and Zoe have always shared everything.Hopeless crushes, emergency tampons, messy sex stories, work triumphs, those days where you can't stop crying in the loos, those days where you can't stop dancing on the bar. They even share the same birthday, FFS. The struggle is real, but they'll always have each other.Except best friends forever is a hard promise to keep...

Best books of 202160 of 89

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel - 27 May

"I often wonder if we are living the wrong life in the wrong country."Talia is being held at a correctional facility for adolescent girls in the forested mountains of Colombia after committing an impulsive act of violence that may or may not have been warranted. She urgently needs to get out and get back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the United States are waiting for her. If she misses her flight, she might also miss her chance to finally be reunited with her family in the north.

Best books of 202161 of 89

I Couldn't Love You More by Esther Freud - 27 May

Rosaleen is still a teenager, in the early Sixties, when she meets the famous sculptor Felix Lichtman. Felix is dangerous, bohemian, everything she dreamed of in the cold nights at her Catholic boarding school. And at first their life together is glitteringly romantic. But it's not long before Rosaleen finds herself fearfully alone. She seeks help from the only source she knows, the local priest, and is directed across the sea to Ireland on a journey that will seal her fate.Kate lives in Nineties London, stumbling through her unhappy marriage. Close to breaking point, she sets off on a journey of her own, not knowing what she hopes to find.Aoife sits at her husband's bedside as he lies dying, and tells him the story of their marriage. But there is a crucial part of the story missing and time is running out. Aoife needs to know: what became of Rosaleen?Spanning three generations of women, I Couldn't Love You More is an unforgettable novel about love, motherhood, secrets and betrayal – and how only the truth can set us free.

Best books of 202162 of 89

Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee - Out now

Dreamland is set in a near-future Margate where soaring temperatures and rising sea levels has forced those who can to move inland. It follows a teenage girl, Chance, after her family (who previously lived in state-funded emergency housing in London) are given a cash grant to relocate to the derelict seaside resort. In their new town, challenges swiftly mount – Chance finds herself coming of age and falling in love at a time when class divides are deepening and social rules are fading dangerously fast.

Best books of 202163 of 89

The End of the World is a Cul de Sac by Louise Kennedy - Out now

In these visceral, stunningly crafted stories, people are effortlessly cruel to one another, and the natural world is a primitive salve. Here, women are domestically trapped by predatorial men, Ireland's folklore and politics loom large, and poverty – material, emotional, sexual – seeps through every crack.A wife is abandoned by her new husband in a ghost estate, with blood on her hands; a young woman is tormented by visions of the man murdered by her brother during the Troubles; a pregnant mother fears the worst as her husband grows illegal cannabis with the help of a vulnerable teenage girl; a woman struggles to forgive herself after an abortion threatens to destroy her marriage.Announcing a major new voice in literary fiction for the twenty-first century, these sharp shocks of stories offer flashes of beauty, and even humour, amidst the harshest of truths.

Best books of 202164 of 89

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again. Abi's disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi's family, there are questions to be asked - of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father - both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark - the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones....

Best books of 202165 of 89

Us Three by Ruth Jones - June (Paperback)

Friends forever is a difficult promise to keep...Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt - there's simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .Prepare to meet characters you'll feel you've known all your life - prepare to meet Us Three.

Best books of 202166 of 89

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer - 24 June

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?

Best books of 202167 of 89

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins - 31 August

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She's seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous. Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn't mean she's a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace? Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Best books of 202168 of 89

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney - 7 September

The long-awaited third novel from Sally Rooney. Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he'd like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood.Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young - but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Best books of 202169 of 89

We Need to Talk About Money, Otegha Uwagba

An extraordinarily candid personal account of the ups and downs wrought by money, We Need To Talk About Money is a vital exploration of stories and issues that will be familiar to most. This is a book about toxic workplaces and misogynist men, about getting payrises and getting evicted. About class and privilege and racism and beauty. About shame and pride, compulsion and fear.

Best books of 202170 of 89

Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse - August 5

From Grazia's contributing editor, Anna Whitehouse coms a darkly voyeuristic book with heart - as funny as it is painful and true.Lo is the ultimate middle-class mother, all perfectly polished Instagram posts and armchair activism.Dylan is just about surviving on a zero-hours telemarketing job from her flat, trying to keep food on the table.But when they meet at the school gates, they are catapulted into each other's homes and lives - with devastating consequences . . .Explosive, sharply humorous and unflinchingly honest, Underbelly slices through the filtered surface of modern women's lives to expose the dark truth beneath.

Best books of 202171 of 89

Sista Sister by Candice Brathwaite - July 8

Candice Brathwaite's much-anticipated second book about all the things she wishes she'd been told when she was young and needed guidance.From the author of Sunday Times Bestseller, I Am Not Your Baby Mother, comes this compilation of essays about all the things Candice wishes someone had talked to her about when she was a young Black girl growing up in London. From family and money to Black hair and fashion, as well as relationships between people of different races and colourism, this will be a fascinating read that will have another profound impact on conversations about Black Lives Matter.

Best books of 202172 of 89

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker - July 15

When Lizzie calls off her wedding in the south of France only a week before the big day, not even her closest friends know why. But since the chateau is already paid for, they figure it's the perfect place to take Lizzie's her mind off her suddenly single state.But when the group arrives, the wedding is waiting for them - food, flowers, and all.The next day, Lizzie wakes to find her friends have drunkenly revelled in the wedding-that-wasn't - but not all their antics were benign. Someone is set on tormenting Lizzie, and she can't think who.The more the friends try to piece together exactly what happened that night, the more secrets start to come out . . .

Best books of 202173 of 89

Omelette by Jessie Ware - June 10

A memoir from singer and podcaster Jessie Ware: 'My mother's omelettes are slightly overdone but always generous in cheese and well-seasoned. My omelettes are just the same, though more often slightly underdone and less carefully considered. And like my stories, they come in many forms. You might get one late at night, after a little too much wine and alongside a little too much information. I might spend a long time on one that's just a touch extravagant. And many are for the people I care about most, thrown together and with more cheese than is strictly necessary.'Collected here are things I've done, things I've seen, things I've thought, and most importantly, things I've tasted. They're slices of parts of my life. Call them omelettes, if you like. I hope you enjoy them.'

Best books of 202174 of 89

The Dark by Emma Haughton - 19 August

An electrifying debut thriller by Emma Haughton. A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she's offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc's death wasn't accidental at all.

Best books of 202175 of 89

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty - 14 September

This novel is a thrillingly honest depiction of a long marriage and an unsentimental look at the lives of their four children. The Delaney family love one another dearly - it's just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .Joy Delaney and husband Stan have done well. Four wonderful grown-up children. A family business to envy.So when Joy Delaney vanishes - no note, no calls, her bike missing - it's natural that tongues will wag.How did Stan scratch his face? And who was the stranger who entered and suddenly left their lives? What are they all hiding?

Best books of 202176 of 89

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult -

A story about love, loss and adventure. Diana O'Toole's life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she's up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby's and she's about to fly to the Galapagos where she's convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose. But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.Once she's in the Galapagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded - albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there's a better way to live. of 89

The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

Handpicked by Reese Witherspoon Book Club, The Paper Palace is a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and across fifty years. Decades of family legacies, love, lies, secrets, and one unspeakable incident in her childhood lead Elle to the precipice of a life-changing decision. Elle will have to decide between the world she has made with her much-loved husband, Peter, and the life she imagined would be hers with her childhood love, Jonas, if a tragic event hadn't forever changed the course of their lives.

Best books of 202178 of 89

The Hill We Climb : An Inaugural Poem by Amanda Gorman

On 20 January 2021, Amanda Gorman spoke a message of truth and hope to millions. Aged twenty-two, she delivered a poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden. Her poem, 'The Hill We Climb', addressed the country and reached across the world: a call for a brave future. This special edition, which includes an enduring foreword by Oprah Winfrey, marks that poem and offers us courage, consolation and the inspiration to make change.

Best books of 202179 of 89

Jane Is Trying by Isy Suttie

Jane is trying.She's been trying for a baby, with increasing desperation as her thirties sail by.Now, she's trying to make a new start back home with her overprotective, charades-obsessed parents - having left her career and cheating fiancé behind in London.And, she's trying to convince herself she didn't leave the front door unlocked, or the gas on. (Jane's not anxious. She just wants to make one hundred percent sure that nothing bad's going to happen to her. EVER.)With an increasing load on her plate, friends and family who think if she only listens to them she'll have a perfect life, and a brain which questions every decision she's ever made, can Jane conquer her demons and step forward on her own?

Best books of 202180 of 89

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman - 16 September

The Man Who Died Twice is the continuation of the record breaking million copy selling murder club series. We pick up where we left off - As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus?Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?This is a gripping tale of tragedy and mystery.

Best books of 202181 of 89

Beautiful World, Where Are You - 7 September

The new novel from the author of Normal People tells explores a spellbinding twenty-first-century love story. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young - but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Best books of 202182 of 89

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead - 14 September

From the Author of the Underground Railroad, Harlem Shuffle is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It's a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.