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Top 5 Must-Read Novels If You Enjoyed “The Disappearing Duet”

Ever since its release in 2020, Brit Bennett’s poignant novel The Disappearing Duet has captivated the hearts of readers, sparking animated discussions in literary circles, notably on platforms such as BookTok and BookTube. The narrative crafts the tale of twin sisters hailing from the fictitious town of Mallard, Louisiana. Stella and Desiree are indistinguishable as white despite their experiences with racial prejudice early in their lives. As they venture into adulthood, their paths diverge sharply; Stella adopts the guise of a white woman, while Desiree finds herself drawn back to Mallard after an intermittent journey to Washington, D.C. Her return stirs the small town, especially since departures from Mallard are usually permanent.

Bennett’s novel flows seamlessly despite navigating across multiple decades, from the 1940s to the 1990s, anchored by a cast of characters intimately linked to their hometown of Mallard. The core themes emerge from beneath a canvas of enigma and deception, probing deep into colorism, personal identity, spousal abuse, and social standing. The secondary characters enrich the narrative, delivering the themes’ underlying implications, making for a deeply immersive and provocative read.

Reimagining Shakespeare’s Child: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet is not just the name of William Shakespeare’s tragically lost son, but also the title of Maggie O’Farrell’s historical fiction that breathes life into Shakespeare’s often overlooked family. Notably absent from the narrative is Shakespeare himself, who is obliquely described as the “husband” or “father,” thereby spotlighting the lives of his neglected kin. The novel suggests a connection between the eerily similar names of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet and his iconic character Hamlet. Set in a time period vastly removed from The Disappearing Duet, the novel nonetheless draws in readers who found Stella and Desiree’s relationship compelling. O’Farrell’s illumination of Hamnet’s bond with his twin sister Judith, and the exploration of their characters—Hamnet’s insatiable curiosity against Judith’s grounded introspection—creates an equally layered and poetically penned odyssey that stirs the soul.

A Portrait of Secrecy: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In Celeste Ng’s intricate tale, Little Fires Everywhere, artist Mia and her daughter Pearl embark on a new chapter in the manicured suburbia of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Secrets shroud their past and present as they intersect with the lives of the Richardson family. Pearl’s fascination with the Richardson’s contrasts with Mia’s deep mistrust, and as the story weaves through themes of racial dynamics and unspoken histories, readers find a familiar spirit of intrigue and identity presented in The Disappearing Duet.

The Tangled Web of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

A spellbinding thriller, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, unravels the myserty surrounding Amy’s disappearance, observed through her husband Nick’s increasingly bewildered perspective. Although contrasting in genre, themes reminiscent of The Disappearing Duet surface within the suburban ennui and deceit-painted portraits of the protagonists.

Tragic Affair: Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Delving into adult fiction, Sarah Crossan’s verse-esque novel Here is the Beehive opens upon the aftermath of a man’s passing, shedding light on Ana, his solicitor and secret lover. With Ana’s connection to the man’s oblivious wife, the narrative crafts a dense mosaic of secrets and veracity—a theme shared intimately with Bennett’s The Disappearing Duet.

Mysteries of Motherhood: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty’s gripping novel, Big Little Lies, set in the affluent Sydney suburbia, spins a suspenseful tale of four mothers whose lives intersect in unanticipated ways. Echoing The Disappearing Duet’s deep dive into motherhood and the societal forces shaping their destinies, Moriarty’s narrative invites readers on a probing journey through the facades of privilege and the unearthing of hidden truths.

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