Good sum­mer reads se­lected by Richenda Miers

Country Life Every Week - - Books -

How to Mea­sure a Cow

Mar­garet Forster ( Chatto & Win­dus, £16.99)

Mar­garet Forster was a re­al­ist who saw be­yond the fences peo­ple erect around them­selves. Tara Fraser be­comes Sarah Scott to es­cape her past and, in the process, per­haps, dis­cov­ers her­self. Fol­low­ing her quest, I found this book, the au­thor’s last, com­pul­sive read­ing—and was left hope­ful.

Olivia & Sophia

Rosie Milne ( Mon­soon, £8.99)

A clever por­trait of Sir Stam­ford Raf­fles, founder of Sin­ga­pore, seen through the fic­ti­tious diaries of his two be­sot­ted wives. Be­tween the lines, we see his faults as well as his strengths and learn much about the east In­dia Com­pany’s role in ‘The east­ward’. In­trepid Sophia learns the true char­ac­ter of her pre­de­ces­sor, Olivia, through gos­sip.

Mother­ing Sun­day

Gra­ham Swift ( Scrib­ner, £12.99)

Jane Fairchild, now in her nineties, started life as a foundling dumped on or­phan­age steps in 1901, be­came a house­maid and is now an ac­claimed writer. her story ra­di­ates from a clan­des­tine cou­ple of hours spent with her up­per-class lover in 1924, the cul­mi­na­tion of which trans­forms her life. This enig­matic novella is deeper than it pre­tends to be and leaves you won­der­ing.

Our Souls at Night

Kent Haruf ( Pi­cador, £7.99) Two be­reaved sep­tu­a­ge­nar­i­ans form a charm­ing li­ai­son, ex­chang­ing their life sto­ries in a king-sized bed as they hold hands, as­suag­ing their lone­li­ness over many nights in a pla­tonic but lov­ing re­la­tion­ship. They ex­tend their meet­ings into daily ex­cur­sions and their joint fu­ture prom­ises to be happy—how­ever, fam­ily obli­ga­tions in­ter­vene.

Cof­fin Road Pe­ter May ( river­run, £7.99)

A man is washed up on a beach in harris, al­most dead, with no mem­ory of who he is or how he got there. his only clue is a map trac­ing a path to the Cof­fin Road, which he is com­pelled to fol­low. A bat­tered corpse is dis­cov­ered—was he re­spon­si­ble? Global in­trigue fu­elled by avarice bat­tles with in­tegrity and we don’t know which will win un­til the very end. Pe­ter May at his very best: to­tally grip­ping.

The Hunt­ing­field Pain­tress

Pamela Holmes ( Ur­bane Pub­li­ca­tions, £8.99)

Mil­dred hol­land, wife of Wil­liam, vicar of St Mary’s hunt­ing­field in Suf­folk, flaunted Vic­to­rian prej­u­dice, donned trousers and painted the en­tire ceil­ing of her hus­band’s de­cay­ing church sin­gle-handed, sus­pended above pre­car­i­ous scaf­fold­ing, crip­pled with arthri­tis. The amaz­ing re­sults of her work can still be seen to­day. This ex­cel­lent his­tor­i­cal novel tells her re­mark­able story.

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