10 hot hol­i­day reads

Whether you’re jet­ting off or stay­ing put this sum­mer, we’ve picked our favourite books – from mod­ern classics to thrilling new re­leases – for those pre­cious mo­ments when you get to sit, re­lax and un­wind. By Christina T Cur­ran

Friday - - Wanted -

Gone Girl Gil­lian Flynn

If you haven’t yet stayed up all night de­vour­ing this im­pos­si­ble-to-put­down page-turner, what are you wait­ing for? It was both the mus­tread book and the ul­ti­mate lit­er­ary fash­ion ac­ces­sory ear­lier this year and it still hasn’t run out of steam, with spec­u­la­tion on who will star in the screen ver­sion rife. De­spite its ti­tle this is no fe­male­cen­tric book, and both men and women have found its tightly wound plot about mar­riage, mur­der and ma­nip­u­la­tion grip­ping. We won’t give away any spoil­ers, suf­fice it to say this in­tox­i­cat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller stays with you for days af­ter you’ve fin­ished it, and may even make you ques­tion how well you re­ally know the per­son ly­ing be­side you in bed at night.

The Is­land, Vic­to­ria His­lop

Alexis, a self-as­sured young woman, de­cides to make the most of a Greek hol­i­day with her fi­ancé by dis­cov­er­ing more about her Cre­tan mother’s past. This might sound like the set-up for your typ­i­cal Mamma Mia!- style sto­ry­line, but this couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. For a start, most of the fam­ily his­tory is in­tri­cately tied to a for­mer leper colony, a place built on heartache that tore fam­i­lies apart but also nur­tured shin­ing ex­am­ples of love and com­pas­sion. Find­ing out about the true na­ture of her fam­ily’s past gives Alexis clar­ity in terms of both her re­la­tion­ship with her fi­ancé and with her se­cre­tive mother. A beach read with a dif­fer­ence.

The His­to­rian, El­iz­a­beth Kos­tova

Noth­ing worth watch­ing on the in-flight en­ter­tain­ment menu? Sink your teeth into Kos­tova’s award-win­ning vam­pire thriller. Be­gin­ning in Am­s­ter­dam in 1972 when a teenage girl dis­cov­ers a me­dieval book in her fa­ther’s li­brary, the story re­volves around the myth of Drac­ula, or Vlad the Im­paler, and the dis­ap­pear­ance of peo­ple in­ves­ti­gat­ing his sup­posed ex­is­tence. A dark and clev­erly crafted ad­ven­ture mys­tery, the at­mo­spheric de­scrip­tion of cas­tles and his­tor­i­cal cities across Eastern Europe will send shiv­ers down your spine, as the heroine gets ever closer to the an­swers – and an unimag­in­able evil.

A Short His­tory of Trac­tors in Ukra­nian, Ma­rina Lewycka

Born in a refugee camp in Ger­many af­ter the Se­condWorldWar be­fore mov­ing to the UK, much of Ma­rina Lewycka’s wit lies in her comic han­dling of cul­ture clash, and this, her de­but novel, is a fine ex­am­ple. If the du­bi­ous ti­tle doesn’t im­me­di­ately

grab you, the open­ing lines will: “Two years af­ter my mother died, my fa­ther fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian di­vorcee. He was 84 and she was 36. She ex­ploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade... bring­ing to the sur­face the sludge of sloughed-off mem­o­ries, giv­ing the fam­ily ghosts a kick up the back­side.” Short­listed for the Or­ange Prize For Fic­tion in 2005, the novel ex­pertly vac­il­lates be­tween the hu­mour of car­i­ca­ture and the poignancy of old age, be­tween flip­pant farce and the pol­i­tics of the UK’s im­mi­gra­tion laws. Thought­pro­vok­ing es­capism.

A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns, Khaled Hos­seini

You might think

The Kite Run­ner would be a hard act to fol­low, but Afghan- Amer­i­can author Hos­seini man­ages not only to equal the weight and force of his de­but novel but, in many read­ers’ eyes, to sur­pass it. Keep the tis­sues handy though, be­cause this mov­ing story of two girls’ tragic lives un­der an op­pres­sive regime is a tear-jerker. One must give up any hope of love af­ter she is mar­ried off to a much older man, while the other is thrust into mar­riage at a young age. They form an un­likely friend­ship, which be­comes greater and more mean­ing­ful in the face of the hard­ship they live un­der. A rich, poignant and sat­is­fy­ing read.

The Camel Book­mo­bile

Masha Hamil­ton

This sweet tale of char­ity turns into a love story across the ex­otic plains of Kenya as a woman from the US makes her way to dis­tant vil­lages to bring books from around the world in a sort of trav­el­ling li­brary. Some of the vil­lagers love to see the camels laden with books ap­pear on the hori­zon, while oth­ers think she is do­ing them no favours by bring­ing the out­side world to their small com­mu­ni­ties. She meets an at­trac­tive Kenyan teacher named Matani, but when two books go miss­ing ten­sions rise as old feel­ings and new ones col­lide. A soul-search­ing read.

Tigers in Red­Weather

Liza Klauss­mann

Told from the point of view of five peo­ple, this siz­zling read be­gins with the story of two fe­male cousins, He­lena and Nick, who grew up shar­ing sun­soaked, care­less days on a grand old fam­ily es­tate. With echoes of the headi­ness and yearn­ing of an F Scott Fitzger­ald novel, it evolves into a tale of dis­ap­pointed love as the two women’s mar­riages don’t live up to their high ex­pec­ta­tions af­ter the Se­condWorld War. But when their chil­dren dis­cover the vic­tim of a bru­tal mur­der, all the char­ac­ters’ lives be­gin to un­ravel. El­e­gant and mag­i­cal.

The Din­ner, Her­man Koch

Hol­i­days and fam­ily gath­er­ings go hand in hand, but you might raise an eye­brow at the fam­i­lies in this new re­lease, which has been de­scribed as ‘the Euro­pean Gone Girl’. Set in Am­s­ter­dam, two sets of par­ents meet for an evening meal, but de­spite the high-end sur­round­ings of a restau­rant, all is not as it seems. Paul’s 15-year-old son, Michel, has com­mit­ted an un­speak­able crime, and his brother’s fam­ily are keep­ers of the dark se­cret. The cou­ples meet to dis­cover the truth and de­cide how to deal with it. With dark hu­mour and ten­sion drip­ping from ev­ery page, you’ll be swept up in the con­ver­sa­tion and the un­com­fort­able truths each char­ac­ter has to face.

Blood River,

Tim Butcher

If you think the jour­ney to your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion is a long haul, try ex­plor­ing the depths of the Congo, one of the most dif­fi­cult-to-nav­i­gate places on the planet, as de­scribed through the eyes of Bri­tish jour­nal­ist Tim Butcher. His mis­sion to travel the same route taken by HM Stan­ley, an­other jour­nal­ist, more than 130 years ago is re­counted in this record of his mod­ern ad­ven­ture as he dodges death at the hands of rebel fac­tions, a rick­ety mo­tor­bike and the un­for­giv­ing, rugged land­scape. An in­spir­ing read for the more in­trepid trav­ellers among us.

The Help, Kathryn Stock­ett

While you might only be aware of the hit film, the lively char­ac­ters of this well-writ­ten book are the per­fect com­pany along with a sun lounger and a fruity drink by the pool. Set in the early 1960s in the US, this touch­ing story will lift your heart and restore your faith in hu­man­ity, with a few laughs thrown in for good mea­sure. It cen­tres on a num­ber of black women who work in wealthy white homes in a Mis­sis­sippi sub­urb dur­ing a time when equal­ity was still be­ing ham­mered out – some­times lit­er­ally. De­spite the real fear of be­ing hurt or even killed by an­gry mobs, the women be­gin to tell a lo­cal jour­nal­ist about their lives and how they’re treated by the peo­ple they have es­sen­tially raised from birth. Miss Skeeter writes their sto­ries and slowly be­gins to see her friends and her town in a strik­ingly dif­fer­ent light.

Oc­tavia Spencer won an Os­car for her por­trayal of a ser­vant in the film adap­ta­tion of The Help

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