Summer’s hottest reads
Pack your bags with some gripping reading material for the holidays, from nail-biting thrillers to historical tales, family sagas and a few real-life revelations. Hannah Stephenson leafs through some of the best
The summer holiday season is here and the shops are brimming with the latest reads from best-selling authors and debut novelists alike.
There are new titles out from famous authors including Philippa Gregory, Margaret Atwood, James Patterson and Ruth Rendell, plus a few exciting debuts to watch out for, while the new Dan Brown best-seller,
Inferno, is fast becoming one of the most popular books this summer.
Holiday reading has historically been focused on mass-market paperbacks, but the e-reader has changed all that, allowing us to download otherwise weighty new hardbacks so we can take new titles of every genre away with us.
History lovers who are intrigued by the BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s TheWhite Queen should immerse themselves in her latest novel, The
White Princess, the fifth in the Cousins War series, which tells the passionate story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen, and is set against a backdrop of The War of the Roses.
Other fans of historical fiction may be tempted by The Summer Queen, by Elizabeth Chadwick, the first in a new trilogy about the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, from the award-winning author of Lady Of The English. Easy-to-read yarns about relationships and other contemporary issues are abundant.
If you’re worried about ageing, take a light-hearted trip with Mike Gayle’s new novel Turning Forty, a fast-moving romp about a high-flying guy whose wife calls time on their marriage six months before he hits 40 – and the ensuing realisation that he may have to turn things around before the big 4-0 arrives. It’s a witty follow-up to his best-selling Turning Thirty.
For those keener on true stories, another gem of a light-hearted real-life read comes from old school friends Hilary Linstead and Elisabeth Davies, who reconnected after 35 years to travel the globe together,
resulting in Growing Old
Outrageously, a travelogue and memoir of their experiences together.
Not having a clue whether they would get along (and realising each other’s well-developed eccentricities could make things even more fraught), the pair embarked on a trial journey to Morocco to see if they could survive the stresses of travelling into the unknown. They soon discovered their delight in laughing at themselves and each other, and quickly rekindled their friendship, travelling to Italy, South Africa, Australia and other far-flung destinations.
For more light-hearted fun, budding thespians and armchair TV critics should bag a copy of The Rules
of Acting by Michael Simkins. The actor and author, has been on the stage and screen for 35 years and offers amusing, practical advice to would-be actors as well as giving laymen a hilarious account of auditions and beyond.
Of course, women’s fiction is always high on the holiday agenda and this year there’s a plethora of new titles from favourite authors. Lisa Jewell’s The House We Grew Up In should be top of the list, a story that sees four children having an idyllic childhood in a picturesque country cottage until tragedy strikes one weekend. Slowly but surely the siblings drift apart, but as adults something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened all those years ago.
There are constant twists in Adele Parks’ new novel, The State We’re In, which features hopeless romantic Jo forming an unlikely friendship with cynical commitment-phobe Dean on a plane amid a series of complications featuring ex-fiancés and parents. Or take a dip into Deep Blue Sea, Tasmina Perry’s latest excursion. When Diana’s husband dies suddenly, she’s convinced there’s more to it than meets the eye and calls on her estranged sister, a former tabloid reporter, for help.
For those who want something darker, there’s a great range of new thrillers out this summer, both from recognised and debut authors. Check out the new Nicci French,
Waiting For Wednesday, which sees the return of psychotherapist Frieda Klein. Her niece befriends the son of the victim in DCI Karlsonn’s latest investigation and Klein finds herself in the very awkward position of being confidante to both.
In this latest instalment, Frieda struggles to stay in control and finds herself
chasing down a path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has escaped detection.
A sizzling debut, The
Silent Wife by ASA Harrison is a chilling psychological thriller portraying the disintegration of a flawed relationship down to the deadliest point. He betrays her, she knows he betrays her, and he knows that she knows. So she seeks vengeance, at first through small irritations but later things become much more sinister.
Another nail-biter, billed as this year’s Before I Go To Sleep (SJ Watson’s 2011 New York Times best-selling thriller about a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia), is the psychological thriller Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes.
This sees heavily pregnant, happily married Claudia’s world fall apart when baby helper Zoe steps into her life – can she be trusted? Then a local pregnant woman is murdered, which heightens Claudia’s fears.
Close female friendships are examined in Precious Thing by Colette McBeth (published by Headline and to be released on August 1). This is a dark tale that sees a television journalist ending up on camera reporting her best friend’s disappearance – yet something lurks beneath the surface of their friendship. Glitz and grime collide in The
Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, a tale of a dangerous friendship in 1920s New York City when police typist Rose, an orphan with no friends, encounters a beautiful and intriguing new typist who joins the pool and soon introduces her to the Roaring Twenties underground party scene – but there’s always a price to pay.
Fans of memoirs should pick up a copy of Girl Least Likely To: 30 Years Of Fashion, Fasting And Fleet Street, by journalist Liz Jones charting her 30 years in the fashion business.
She became anorexic at the age of 11, but went on to become fashion editor of the Daily Mail, a successful columnist and former editor of the British Marie Claire. And yet she still can’t bear to look at herself in the mirror.
Another unusual real-life read comes from Lily Coppel, who has penned The Astronaut Wives Club, the true story of the women behind the astronauts in the 1950s and 1960s American space race.
It follows the dramas and challenges the women faced as their husbands were launched into space and the 40year friendship that has bound the women to this day.
And for readers seeking complete escapism over the holidays – especially those who are already Margaret Atwood fans – there is MaddAddam (Bloomsbury, to be released August 29), the final novel in her dystopian trilogy. Here, we find a manmade plague has swept the earth but a small group survives along with the greeneyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans.
The Booker Prize-winning author’s unpredictable, chilling and witty tale holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future. Hard copies and e-book versions of all books are available at amazon.com.
Escape city life and take refuge in the
world of books
Take your pick from our list for perfect entertainment under the sun