10 scorch­ing reads for the sum­mer

STILL ROOM IN YOUR SUIT­CASE FOR A NEW BOOK OR TWO? HAN­NAH STEPHENSON LEAFS THROUGH THIS YEAR’S TOP SUM­MER READS

Llanelli Star - - BOOK SHELF -

THERE’S a crack­ing col­lec­tion of page-turn­ers to take on your sum­mer hol­i­days this year – from nail-bit­ing thrillers to ro­man­tic yarns, nostalgic tales to award-win­ning lit­er­ary gems.

Here are some of our favourites..

1 AN AMER­I­CAN MAR­RIAGE by Ta­yari Jones (Oneworld, pa­per­back £8.99, ebook £3.11).

HAILED as a masterpiec­e by Barack Obama and Oprah Win­frey, this is the one every­one’s talk­ing about and is the de­served win­ner of the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fic­tion.

It tells the story of new­ly­weds Roy and Ce­les­tial, a black mid­dle-class cou­ple liv­ing the good life in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia. But their world is shat­tered when Roy is ar­rested for a rape he didn’t com­mit and sen­tenced to 12 years in prison.

Ce­les­tial finds her­self strug­gling to hold on to the love that has been her cen­tre, tak­ing com­fort from An­dre, the boy next door. As the years move on, they be­come a cou­ple, but when Roy’s con­vic­tion is sud­denly over­turned he re­turns home ready to re­sume their life to­gether – and that’s where it gets re­ally in­ter­est­ing.

2 SWEET SOR­ROW by David Ni­cholls (Hod­der & Stoughton, hard­back £20, ebook £9.99)

ONE Day au­thor and screen­writer David

Ni­cholls is back with a funny, nostalgic and some­times painful com­ing-of-age story set in 1997, about 16-year-old Char­lie Lewis who joins an am­a­teur dra­mat­ics group that’s stag­ing Romeo And Juliet, so he can pur­sue the girl he’s fallen for.

Ni­cholls cap­tures the teenage so­cial in­se­cu­ri­ties, awk­ward­ness and first love emo­tions beau­ti­fully, throw­ing an ex­tra el­e­ment in as Char­lie strug­gles to look af­ter his fa­ther who has turned to booze and pills in the wake of his wife leav­ing him.

Sweet Sor­row is both funny, poignant and painful, evok­ing fa­mil­iar mem­o­ries of the feel­ings of un­cer­tainty when you leave school, the grad­ual fad­ing of old friend­ships and the all-en­com­pass­ing emo­tions of new love.

3 DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Tay­lor Jenk­ins Reid (Hutchin­son, hard­back £12.99, ebook £7.99)

THE Six­ties may have been the start of the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll era – but many would ar­gue that the ex­cesses and wild be­hav­iour re­ally got its groove on in the Seven­ties.

This decade forms the back­drop to the fic­tional story of the rise of an Amer­i­can rock band, Daisy Jones & The Six, told through a se­ries of in­ter­views with the key mem­bers of the band and those around them.

All the ups and the downs are re­lived, the in-fight­ing, out­ra­geous be­hav­iour and tour­ing may­hem, the record la­bel in­ter­fer­ence, sex­ual shenani­gans and drug-tak­ing, un­til the band fi­nally dis­in­te­grates.

Some have said this fic­tional story is not that far off the true Fleet­wood Mac one – but read it and you can be the judge.

4 KNIFE by Jo Nesbo (Harvill Secker, hard­back £20, ebook £9.99)

IN AN­OTHER fast­mov­ing Scandi page-turner from the top Nor­we­gian thriller writer, we find rogue cop Harry Hole back on the booze af­ter Rakel, the only woman he’s ever loved, fin­ished with him.

He soon gets caught up in in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases he be­lieves have ties to Svein Finne, a se­rial rapist and mur­derer Harry helped put be­hind bars. But when he learns that Finne is free – and his per­sonal life takes an even darker turn – he is sure there is a con­nec­tion.

5 THE TRUANTS by Kate Wein­berg (Blooms­bury, hard­back £14.99, ebook £9.11. Re­leased on Au­gust 8)

JOJO MOYES and Alain de Bot­ton have been singing the praises of this de­but novel, which cen­tres on Jess Walker, the mid­dle child of a mid­dle-class fam­ily, who ar­rives at an East Anglian univer­sity where she is soon drawn into a tightly knit group of rule­break­ers, led by a mav­er­ick tu­tor.

As she be­gins to ex­per­i­ment with a new ver­sion of her­self, she un­wit­tingly be­comes part of a toxic love tri­an­gle as the new friends share se­crets, lovers and fi­nally a tragedy.

6 LATE IN THE DAY by Tessa Hadley (Jonathan Cape, hard­back £16.99, ebook £9.99)

THIS is one of the best lit­er­ary of­fer­ings so far this year, fo­cus­ing on how an un­ex­pected death up­sets the equi­lib­rium of two 50-some­thing cou­ples who met in their 20s and still have strong con­nec­tions.

When one of the hus­bands – who was the piv­otal force in the four­some – dies sud­denly, it’s left to the other three to pick up the pieces, which they don’t do very well.

Hadley ex­plores the themes of mar­riage, friend­ship and grief, tak­ing read­ers back and forth in time, to show how the past has a bear­ing on each present mo­ment.

7 QUEENIE by Candice Car­ty­Williams (Trapeze, £12.99, ebook £6.99)

BILLED as the ‘black

Brid­get Jones’, this amus­ing de­but fol­lows 20-some­thing south Lon­doner Queenie Jenk­ins, an as­pir­ing jour­nal­ist who’s just split up from her long-term boyfriend.

Mean­while, her news­pa­per boss doesn’t ap­pre­ci­ate her, and her fam­ily doesn’t lis­ten to her.

You will cry with her and cry for her. In­deed, the book has sur­pris­ing depth and at times, turn­ing fre­quently from hi­lar­i­ous to heart­felt.

8 BIG SKY by Kate Atkin­son (Dou­ble­day, hard­back £20, ebook £9.99)

AF­TER nine years, the pro­lific York-born writer res­ur­rects Jack­son Brodie, her pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, now re­lo­cated to a sea­side vil­lage in North York­shire where he is look­ing af­ter his sulky teenage son, Nathan, and Dodo the an­cient Labrador, both tem­po­rar­ily left with him for the sum­mer by his ex, Ju­lia.

Hired to do a spot of hus­band­fol­low­ing, Brodie meets a des­per­ate man on a cliff, an encounter that leads him into a sin­is­ter labyrinth of mur­der, abuse and barbed old sins.

Atkin­son presents her story in a challengin­g, idio­syn­cratic way that makes for a com­pelling read.

9 THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE KIMONO by Ana Johns (Leg­end Press, pa­per­back £8.99, ebook £4.99)

IN­SPIRED by true sto­ries from a dev­as­tat­ing and lit­tle-known era in Ja­panese and Amer­i­can His­tory, The Woman In The White Kimono il­lu­mi­nates a sear­ing por­trait of one woman torn be­tween her cul­ture and her heart, and an­other woman on a jour­ney to dis­cover the true mean­ing of home.

It’s in­spired by the true story of Ana Johns’ fa­ther, who as an Amer­i­can US Navy soldier in the 1950s fell in love with a Ja­panese girl. Their re­la­tion­ship was ul­ti­mately stopped by cul­tural pres­sures and Johns has done ex­ten­sive re­search into the thou­sands of love sto­ries that were thwarted and the ba­bies aban­doned.

10 PLAT­FORM SEVEN by Louise Doughty (Faber & Faber, hard­back £14.99, ebook £12.99. Re­leased on Au­gust 22)

THIS is a late-sum­mer read, as it’s not out un­til the end of Au­gust, but the hotly an­tic­i­pated novel from the best-sell­ing au­thor of Ap­ple Tree Yard is worth wait­ing for.

Not your av­er­age spine-tin­gler, it’s eerie and un­usual, as it is nar­rated by the ghost of a woman who came to a sticky end at the epony­mous plat­form. As the plot un­folds, the dead woman, who is her­self haunted by other ghostly ap­pari­tions and trapped in limbo be­tween life and death, re­flects on how she got there and how a toxic re­la­tion­ship af­fected her life.

You’ll read this in one sit­ting.

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