11 books that should be on your summer reading list
PUBLISHED: 15:16 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 13 August 2020
We’ve teamed up with Guildford Book Festival to bring you some top reads, from Richard Osman’s debut novel to Adele Park’s number one bestseller
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB by Richard Osman, published by Viking
This debut novel from the hugely popular presenter of Pointless is packed with humour, intrigue and twists and turns aplenty. In a luxury retirement village off the A21 in Kent, four retirees meet every Thursday to investigate unsolved killings. But, when a local property developer shows up dead, The Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case. With great characters and a thrilling plot this charming murder-mystery is highly entertaining, and a stark warning to never underestimate the elderly! Richard Osman will be appearing at this year’s Guildford Book Festival in October.
THE WHITE SHIP: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream by Charles Spencer, published by William Collins
900-years on from the sinking of The White Ship, one of the greatest maritime disasters in English history, Charles Spencer recounts the tragic tale that changed the course of England’s future. When it sank, the ship was sailing from Normandy to England with William of Atheling aboard, the only legitimate heir to King Henry I. Only one of the 300 on board lived to tell the story of how a blind-drunk crew, and William’s reckless determination to overtake his father’s ship, led to tragedy. Extensively researched the fast-paced narrative vividly evokes the harsh and brutal story of the Normans from conquest to anarchy. Charles Spencer will be appearing at this year’s Guildford Book Festival
BRONTË’S MISTRESS by Finola Austin, published by Simon & Schuster
A fictionalised account of the scandalous affair between Branwell Brontë and his married, and much older, employer, Mrs Lydia Robinson. The affair shocked Victorian society with Mrs Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë’s biography, considering Branwell the victim while Lydia was labelled that ‘wretched woman’. But was Lydia unfairly victimised? The author considers she was and sets out to reimagine the event through Lydia’s eyes. Stuck in a loveless marriage, and mourning the death of her mother and youngest daughter, Lydia yearns for something more from life. In walks the young, romantic Branwell as tutor to her son. Soon his intensity and her loneliness combine with devastating consequences for them both.
THE SHELF by Helly Acton published by Zaffre
A brilliant satirical look at society’s obsession with settling down that will strike a chord with anyone who’s been asked ‘why are you still single?’ When Amy is taken on a surprise holiday by her boyfriend she thinks he is about to propose marriage. Instead she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality TV show, The Shelf, and is dumped live on air. Along with five other women she must compete in a series of humiliating tasks to be crowned ‘The Keeper’. But the women have other plans and decide to fight back. Witty, compelling and great fun.
FINDERS KEEPERS by Sabine Durrant, published by Hodder & Stoughton
Another creepy and mesmerising novel from the bestselling author of Lie With Me. When Ailsa Tilson and her family move homes, they think it’s a new start. A house to renovate, no links to the past, and new friends. Verity, lives next door. She has lived there all her life. Her home is a shield to keep the world at bay. But something about the Tilsons piques her interest and she starts to work her way into the family. By the time they realise how formidable she can be, it might well be too late.
Sabine will speaking at this year’s Guildford Book Festival.
READ MORE: The top books on wellbeing
PALACE OF THE PALMS by Kate Teltscher, published by Picador
Daringly innovative when it opened in 1848, the Palm House at Kew Gardens remains one of the most beautiful glass buildings in the world today. Commissioned by the first director of Kew, Sir William Hooker, it was designed by the audacious Irish engineer, Richard Turner, and managed by Kew’s forthright curator, John Smith, who battled with boilers and floods to ensure the survival of the rare and wondrous plants it housed. In Palace of Palms, Royal Botanical Gardens visiting researcher Kate Teltscher tells the extraordinary story of its creation and the Victorians’ obsession with the palms that filled it. It is a story of breath-taking ambition, scientific discovery and the remarkable men whose vision it was.
THE FAMILY HOLIDAY by Elizabeth Noble published by Michael Joseph
The latest novel from number one bestselling Guildford author, Elizabeth Noble, follows Charlie who is determined to celebrate his 80th birthday surrounded by family. The trouble is that ever since he lost his wife, his children’s conflicts have pulled them apart. His daughter, Laura, is divorced and struggling and with her teenage son accused of a crime by his girlfriend’s parents; Scott has recently married, acquiring two stepdaughters and breaking out of his ‘confirmed bachelor’ ways and Nick is still reeling from losing his wife in a tragic accident and coping alone with their three young children. Brought together for Charlie’s birthday the family are forced to confront their differences and discover, at last, what binds them all together.
THE PHONE BOX AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Laura Imai Messina, published by Manilla Press
Based on an incredible true story, Laura Imai Messina’s beautifully-written debut novel of loss and the power of love, provides hope in the most difficult of times and is quickly becoming a international sensation. When Yui loses her mother and daughter in a tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. She hears of a man with a disused telephone box in his garden, where those who have lost loved ones can speak to them and start to come to terms with their grief. When Yui makes her own journey to the phone box, she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose daughter has stopped talking in the wake of loss. What happens next is sure to warm your heart. For when you’ve lost everything – what can you find?
DAUGHTERS OF CORNWALL by Fern Britton, published by HarperFiction
Popular TV presenter and bestselling author, Fern Britton, is on top form with her new novel which takes us from the end of The Great War to the present day. In 1918 Clara Carter arrives in Cornwall to meet a family that would once have been hers, bringing with her a secret that she is determined they must never discover. A century later Caroline tries to uncover the lies buried in her family history but soon learns that some secrets are best left hidden.
Fern Britton will be at the Guildford Book Festival.
ANXIOUS MAN, NOTES ON A LIFE LIVED NERVOUSLY by Josh Roberts, published by Yellow Kite
Four years ago Josh went to a party and woke up the next day to discover his mind had collapsed. In a matter of days, he went from being a fun-loving, seemingly-successful, 20-something to a hot mess of tears and nerves. Eventually he was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and he’s been mending his mind, rediscovering happiness and learning to live his nervous life ever since. This book follows Surrey-born Josh’s 2017 article for The Times, which received huge public reaction for its honest and humourful depiction of life as a millennial male working through the ups and downs of GAD.
JUST MY LUCK by Adele Parks, published by HarperCollins
Just my luck is Guildford-based Adele Park’s whopping 20th novel and reached the top spot on The Sunday Times bestseller list earlier this year. The book follows Lexi and Jake who for 15 years have played the same six lottery numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. Over dinner parties, fish & chip suppers and summer barbecues, they’ve discussed the important stuff – the kids, marriages, jobs and houses – and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything more than a tenner. But then, one Saturday night, there’s a rift in the group and soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.
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