The hol­i­day’s all booked

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SUSAN KURO­SAWA

Ah, sum­mer read­ing. How I look for­ward to sit­ting in the sun and making my way through the pile of books that has been steadily grow­ing be­side my bed, for­ever in peril of top­pling and bury­ing me. Susan? She was last seen in Botswana with Alexan­der McCall Smith, we be­lieve. Should a search party be sent?

Hol­i­days come with per­mis­sion to in­dulge in the un­pun­ish­able sin of read­ing all day. It is im­por­tant to be com­fort­able and with ac­cess to good shade (broad­brimmed hat; a chair that can be shifted about ac­cord­ing to the heat of the sun). Re­fresh­ments? I will be in a slouchy Adiron­dack chair, which comes with arms wide enough for a glass and a plate, too, if a fam­ily mem­ber should be moved to fetch me sus­te­nance. I am not fussy about food on hol­i­days and have been known to make a meal of dis­carded Christ­mas cake ic­ing, as I have the great good for­tune to be the only mem­ber of the house­hold who thrives on marzi­pan.

I have my eye on the in­flat­able PVC swan and flamingo pool toys on the Sunny Life web­site be­cause the smaller mod­els come with drink hold­ers on their backs. What fun, and how Miami, to float about our new pool and have a bird serve me a cock­tail. The plunge pool is barely six breast-strokes in length, but it will get a work­out this Jan­uary and I have al­ready pur­chased a pon­toon thingy shaped like a pineap­ple on which to rest my books.

The list? A few of th­ese I have al­most fin­ished so I know I will enjoy the fi­nal chap­ters. I am the sort of reader who al­ways has four or five books on the go; they are left about the house to be picked up in hours of need, like Panadols or puf­fer sprays.

As ever, I like to be trans­ported to ex­otic places and love nar­ra­tives with a strong sense of place. So I am happy to be in South Africa’s Klein Ka­roo, thanks to Sally An­drew’s Recipes for Love and Mur­der (Text Pub­lish­ing), which is a cosy crime novel with an em­pha­sis on home cook­ing. It even has recipes for dishes as in­trigu­ing as Honey-Tof­fee Snake Cake.

Also in the soft crime mode is The Un­ex­pected In­her­i­tance of In­spec­tor Cho­pra by Vaseem Khan (Mulholland Books), set in mod­ern Mum­bai. From the first sen­tence, I was in. “On the day that he was due to re­tire, In­spec­tor Ash­win Cho­pra dis­cov­ered that he had in­her­ited an ele­phant.” And there is one chap­ter to go in Raw­blood by Ca­tri­ona Ward (Wei­den­feld & Nicol­son), a Gothic thriller set in Dart­moor in the late 19th and early 20th cen­turies that has had me jump­ing at ev­ery creak and squeak of our old house.

Yet to be opened is The Ja­panese Lover by Is­abelle Al­lende (Si­mon & Schus­ter) and the fab­u­lously ti­tled Trig­ger Mor­tis (Orion Books), a James Bond homage by An­thony Horowitz. One for con­stant graz­ing will be Bet­ter than Fic­tion 2, edited by Don Ge­orge (Lonely Planet), an an­thol­ogy of ad­ven­tures from 30 novelists, in­clud­ing favourites such as Ma­rina Lewycka and Mandy Sayer. The for­mer is adrift in the east­ern Ukraine, “where tourists never go”, and the lat­ter is “sleep­less in Samoa”.

Sum­mer is about sleep, too, or at least rest and re­lax­ation, so ex­cuse me while I check out for a month and lie down. Your T&I will be back in full flight on the week­end of Jan­uary 16-17 and, mean­time, happy hol­i­day sea­son to you all. Keep safe, stay warm.

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