Because you don't need to book a holiday to escape (but feel free to make this your holiday reading list).
Books To Get Lost In
A new novel from Paula The Paris Wife McLain is a cause for celebration. We revisit some of the ground covered in The Paris Wife (which told the story of Hadley Richardson – first wife to Ernest Hemingway) – this time McLain takes as her heroine one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century, Martha Gellhorn. Who was, of course, also third wife to one Ernest Hemingway. Love and Ruin is a brilliantly fictionalised take on Gellhorn’s life – and a fascinating study of a woman forced to choose between her husband – and being true to herself.
The much-awaited sequel to How to Build a Girl by the deservedly-lauded Times columnist. Johanna Morrigan is now a music journalist and bang smack at the beating heart of Britpop. She has a column in The Face magazine, is in (unrequited) love, and is having rather a lot of fun – until she sleeps with an edgy comedian with a reputation for “destroying” younger women. Turns out he’s symptomatic of an industry which is controlled by men: her industry. A book for the #metoo generation: How To Be Famous is loud, proud, sweary and brilliant.
The dazzlingly sharp mind of Ms Smith turns itself to everything from Ella Fitzgerald’s style, to social media, to Brexit and Jay-Z, via Renaissance painting and the English seasons. They give insight into Smith’s mind – and her biracial background, but the tone is often casual and intimate without being too revealing (for instance, in ‘Joy’ she recounts the exquisite pleasure of falling in love and giving birth): Feel Free isn’t a tell-all autobiography, more an insight into Smith’s remarkable psyche. Essays make a surprisingly good holiday companion: easy to dip in and out of, with plenty of time to digest as you swim lengths of the pool. For the home-bound, they also make excellent bedtime reading.
Imagine you have one perfect week with what appears to be (nearly) the perfect partner for you. You fall in love. You’re convinced it’s mutual. And then, nothing. It’s not that he doesn’t call – or reply to texts – it’s more like he’s vanished. Sarah’s friends try to convince her it’s the modern dating landscape – that Eddie is just another rotter. But she’s blindsided by love. If you pick up The Man Who Didn't Call, expect twists (many of them) and turns and very probably tears. For the truth (and love) is never simple in this highly contemporary take on the modern dating world.
Hearalded as a serious talent by the likes of Donna Tartt and Hanif Kureishi, and likened to a contemporary Jane Austen, Al-Shaykh’s sparky, witty novel, The Occasional Virgin, tells the story of two friends, Huda and Yvonne, on holiday in the French Riviera. Back in the ‘real world’, they torn between the world the live in (London) and the one they came from (Beirut) as they navigate the often tricky, wryly amusing, occasionally shocking choices we make in pursuit of love.
The weather might be sunny, but your reading choice doesn’t have to be. There are Victorian Gothic chills in abundance in The Silent Companions. Widowed, pregnant Elsie is sent by her brother to Bridge House, her husband’s estate. There she finds resentful, even hostile, servants and – of course – a locked room, holding a two-hundred-year-old diary and the silent companion of the title: a wooden figure bearing an uncanny resemblance to Elsie herself. The chills, they are multiplying…