The days are longer and the sun shines a little bit more and with that comes the opportunity to grab a book and sit outside. Always a fairly ambitious task in Britain but worth it. The May Bank Holidays were a treat, we had wonderfully warm weather and I pretty much spent the entire three days in the garden with a glass of cold white wine and a book. For me, that's one the best way to spend a weekend.
I've read a fair number of books in the past couple of weeks, as if the sun was spurring me on and most of them have been wonderful. So here's my list of recommendations so you aren't without next time the sun shines. As always let me know thoughts if you've read any of these already or once you've turned that final page. Happy Reading.
Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris
My god this was an intense book but intense in a really good way. It's a page turner, you are desperate to find out why, who, what and where - that having to put it down is a bore. Harris is a wonderful writer and many of us know her because the huge success of Chocolat. One of my favourite books and films but wow she can write equally well about grudges, secrets and revenge bubbling within an all Boy's Grammar School as she can about chocolate and love. This was almost unexpectedly good, I knew I liked her writing but put to the thriller genre it's even more amazing. Ideal for sitting in the sun.
I Love You Too Much - Alicia Drake
This book reminded me a lot of Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng - it has the same realism and lack of Hollywood ending. That's why it is good. It isn't a happy ever after fairytale it is a fairly desperate story about a lonely teenage boy, his divorced parents have very little time for him, who meets Scarlett, an equally troubled teenager looking for attention. The underlying relationship Paul (our main man) has with food is a fascinating element to the story. Drake uses it to highlight just how unloved Paul feels and his way of coping is to eat. We've definitely all been there and his parents criticism of it rather than addressing the way bigger issue of their emotional neglect of him leaves you reeling but makes for a good story. This is a beautifully written tragic tale of teenage-hood that you experience with Paul. It's not a feel good book but one that makes you think.
Song Of Skylark - Erica James
This book is what I call Easy Reading. Not in a snobbish way, in a dip in and out, not mentally or emotional taxing way. I think this is what a lot of people deem a beach read but I'm not a fan of that term. It's easy reading because it has a well thought out plot, well written characters and the arc of story telling - a beginning a middle and a satisfying end. This story follows down on her luck Lizzie that has just been fired for sleeping with her boss, she has to move home and re-evaluate, the trouble being she is still in love with her boss. For distraction her mother gets her to volunteer at the care home she works at and Lizzie proceeds to meet a rather colourful old lady with a story to tell. Part from the point of view of Lizzie and part in flashbacks as Mrs Dallimore tells her tale - it really is a lovely story, I may have cried a little at the end. But I'm a big fat softy.
Delicious - Rachel Reichl
This is the perfect read for any foodie. The detailed descriptions of New York's food scene will leave you hungry. I couldn't stop thinking about food whilst reading this book. It's also a brilliant story, full of the complications of family, love and figuring out what you want to do in your 20's. I could write a whole dissertation on why this book is amazing but I won't. I'll let you discover how deliciously brilliant it is for yourself but I will say that you should go out and but it now. You really really won't want to put it down. Also luckily for us Rachel Reichl has written lots so no going hungry do us.
Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty
I'm a big big fan of Big Little Lies, loved the book, loved the TV adaptation. This book is also another good'un. Fraught friendships and marriages at the centre with an event that ties everyone in together - it's a formula that works. Another tense book that has you turning that pages frantically wanting to know what did happen at that BBQ. It's a beaut of a book for whiling away the afternoon in the sun.
The Book of Dust - Phillip Pullman
This is nostalgia reading. I read the Dark Materials series when I was twelve/thirteen and it was just like stepping back into a familiar world. Pullman's descriptions and fully formed characters feels like pulling on your favourite jumper, feels like home. I did have to remind myself of what happens in the first series as characters we've met before pop up in the book and I needed a little jog of the memory to piece it together but it was easy falling back into this world. Also Pullman's descriptions of Oxford and general landscapes are masterpieces within themselves. A very lovely read indeed.