Summer is here, which means lazy picnics by the river, afternoons spent lolling on the lawn, and sun-soaked days on the beach, or at least, that’s the plan. And hey, even if rain stops play, you’ll want to get your nose in a really good book. So, here is June’s recommendations, courtesy of one of our fab local indie stores, The Marlow Bookshop.
Still Life by Sarah Winman
From the author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a big-hearted story of people brought together by love, war, art and the ghost of E.M. Forster. 1944, in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening. Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian – and possible spy. Their illuminating conversation makes a profound impact on Ulysses and will affect his life and loves for the next four decades. Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is about beauty, family and fate. Rachel Joyce calls it a bear-hug of a book. And we all need a hug, don’t we?
Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Lisa Taddeo’s non-fiction Three Women sold like hot cakes – a riveting, upsetting and controversial read – and her first novel, Animal, seems likely to stir us up all over again. A road-trip revenge rollercoaster, we follow the exploits of Joan: “I am depraved. I hope you like me.” It has been described as a propulsive, erotic, emotional thriller, so approach with caution!
The Island Home by Libby Page
If you’re looking for a book to take you away from cold, dark and miserable day, let Libby Page settle you into a deckchair in the sunshine. Libby Page is celebrated as the mistress of the tender, warm and uplifting – you may know The Lido and The 24-hour Cafe. The Island Home tells the story of Lorna, who is living a just-the-two-of-them quiet life in London with her daughter. She has to return to the remote Scottish island of her childhood, uncover the mystery of her past and make peace with a family who made her the outcast.
Omelette: Food, Love, Chaos and Other Conversations by Jessie Ware
If “food, love and chaos” describe your kitchen, you’ll enjoy dipping into these delectable amuse-bouches – witty and delicious tales of family and friends, from the dining tables and pretzel bowls of ace podcaster (Table Manners) Jessie Ware and her mum, Lennie.
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
We all love a good crime novel, especially one that keeps you guessing. In this case, we are wondering what is fact, what is fiction, who is Joseph Knox anyway and which way is up? In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a 19-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party and was never seen again. Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery.
Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened but troubling inconsistencies emerge. Shaken by revelations of Zoe’s secret life, and stalked by a figure from the shadows, Evelyn turns to crime writer Joseph Knox to help make sense of a case where everyone has something to hide.
Moth by Melody Razak
Moth, tells the story of a liberal Brahmin family living in Delhi in the 1940s, during India’s independence and then partition. We meet and come to love Ma, her soon-to-be married 14-year-old daughter Alma and younger daughter Roop. Times are bad for girls in India. The long-awaited independence from British rule is heralding a new era of hope, but also of anger and distrust. Political unrest is brewing, threatening to unravel the rich tapestry of Delhi – a city where different cultures, religions and traditions have co-existed for centuries. When Partition happens and the British Raj is fractured overnight, this wonderful family is violently torn apart, and its members are forced to find increasingly desperate ways to survive. But the resilience of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing…
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her adult life by one man, her husband Patrick. A gift, her mother once said, not everybody gets. So why is Martha – on the edge of 40 – friendless, practically jobless and so often sad? And why did Patrick decide to leave? Maybe she is just too sensitive, someone who finds it harder to be alive than most people. Or maybe – as she has long believed – there is something wrong with her. Something that broke when a little bomb went off in her brain, at 17, and left her changed in a way that no doctor or therapist has ever been able to explain. Forced to return to her childhood home to live with her dysfunctional, bohemian parents (but without the help of her devoted, foul-mouthed sister Ingrid), Martha has one last chance to find out whether a life is ever too broken to fix – or whether, maybe, by starting over, she will get to write a better ending for herself.
Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce
The follow up to Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully continues in sparkling form. Things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, is still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, but bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to ‘Make a Go of It’. Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship, a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times. Like now!