Posts Tagged ‘summer reading’


As you read this I should be travelling home from a long weekend away – a coach trip to Paris.

It is the beginning of the school holidays – a time when I am grateful for having a term time only contract. I’m hoping to get a lot of reading time during the next five weeks, and so despite having more books than I can honestly cope with – I have managed to acquire a few more – and naturally I enjoy sharing my oops moments with you. 😉

The books aren’t pictured in the order I acquired them – note I say acquired not all of them involved me buying them, surely that counts for something – and two books missing from the pile that haven’t arrived yet.

So, working from the top of the piles:

The Power by Naomi Alderman (2016) has been chosen by my very small book group for our September discussion. Incidentally the VSBG now has seven members! (I shall always refer to it as the VSBG) though two of those are people join us only via Twitter. I am already anticipating lots for us to talk about.

The Ghostly Lover by Elizabeth Hardwick (1945) (sorry Elizabeth dreadful title) I have in fact already read this – but so long ago every bit of it is forgotten. A couple of years ago I read Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick and decided I wanted to read more by her. This is a bookcrossing book – I picked it up at a recent local meet up – I rarely pick up books at bookcrossing meets for obvious reasons, and I picked up two.

Watson’s Apology by Beryl Bainbridge (1984) was the second of those two bookcrossing books. I have enjoyed four Beryl Bainbridge novels to date and I have many more left to read.

The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag (2017) – was sent to me by someone on Twitter who had finished with it herself. I had seen mixed reports of it, but I so loved My Family and other Animals and the recent TV series that I am sure I will enjoy it despite its possible weaknesses.

The Hours before Dawn by Celia Fremlin (1958) is a classic mystery recently re-issued by Faber and Faber. I am aware that there exists an old green virago edition which I had hoped to get my hands on but never managed to find. So I snapped up this new edition, and have since read a couple of great reviews of it too.

China Court by Rumer Godden (1961) is my Mum’s book, I actually bought it for her a few months ago, although I hadn’t read it myself. (I introduced mum to Rumer Godden a year or so ago and she has enjoyed a few of her novels now). She told me how much she had enjoyed it and loaned it to me to read.

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville (1934) is another of those tempting BLCC titles – set in a theatre it is one I have wanted to read for a while.

Incidents in the Rue Laugier by Anita Brookner (1995). Not long ago I began following an Anita Brookner quotes Twitter account – the quotes which popped into my timeline from this novel were what inspired me to buy it.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik (2017) which I bought on impulse, and you might have seen I have already read and reviewed it.

The missing book(s), yet to arrive; an old green virago edition of The Fire Dwellers by Margaret Laurence (1969) which was recommended to me by a commenter on here following a recent review of another Laurence novel, and in light of the Booker prize longlist – I have pre-ordered Home Fires (2017) the new Kamila Shamsie novel which I had heard nothing about until the longlist was published.

IMG_20170727_162939More reviews and my monthly round up post soon. I took The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden and The Real Night by Rebecca West with me on my trip – and my kindle for emergencies (I seem to have gone off reading on kindle), though at the time of writing I have no idea how much reading time I will get.

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I love reading books suited to the season, Christmas books at Christmas, gothic spine chillers during those dark October evenings, and summery books during summer. This summer I haven’t managed to match my books to the season really at all, expect for some of my Truman Capote reading. I read Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove yesterday just as summer seems to be on the way out, talk about timing! The Lemon Grove is a novel I am sure, would happily take its place on many people’s summer books list, but I didn’t like it at all, I finished it very late last night, glad not to have wasted any more than a day on it.  I had been lucky enough to win a copy of the Lemon Grove  hardback from the Waterstone’s shop in Birmingham. I also have Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions for a Heatwave on my kindle. As I’m off to the English seaside myself in a day or two, I had really wanted to read a proper sun drenched book, and from what I had heard, had thought The Lemon Grove might just fit the bill, whether or not I also get around to Instructions on a Heatwave too, remains to be seen. So if you’re looking for a book with a sun drenched feel, where the light and sun practically pour of the pages, here are just a few suggestions.

enchanted aprilThe Enchanted April – Elizabeth Von Arnim 1922 – Ok so April isn’t summer but I’m including this on my list because of the setting, and the feeling of warmth and sunshine which pervades the novel. Four women who are little more than strangers to one another, and who are not, to begin with, entirely comfortable with one another, share a castle on the Italian riviera for the month of April. In sight of the sea and surrounded by flowers, their holiday in San Salvatore begins to work its magic on them all.



illyrianIllyrian Spring – Ann Bridge 1935 – despite the title – I count this as being a sun drenched summery read. Lady Grace Kilmichael is a well-known painter, she is also a 40 something wife and mother. However she is now running away. Grace heads off to the Dalmatian coast and strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young artist called Nicholas.



talking to the deadTalking to the dead – Helen Dunmore 1996 – Set during a scorching summer, some difficult, sometimes unlikeable characters come together in a Sussex cottage. An illicit affair, lots of food and a wonderful twist make for a wonderful summery read.




loveandsummerLove and Summer – William Trevor 2009 – Set in 1950’s rural Ireland during a summer when a local farmer’s wife begins an affair with a young photographer. A quiet novel, beautifully written.





aroomwithaviewA room with a View – E M Forster 1908 – In my memory the sun is almost always shining in this novel. The beautiful Italian setting, English tourists with Forster’s wonderful sense of place make for a perfect sun drenched read. Even after the characters are returned to England we quickly return to summer.




“But either because the sun was shedding a most glorious heat, or because two of the gentlemen were young in years and the third young in the spirit – for some reason or other a change came over them, and they forgot Italy and Botany and Fate. They began to play. Mr Beebe and Freddy splashed each other. A little deferentially, they splashed George. He was quiet; they feared they had offended him. Then all the forces of youth burst out. He smiled, flung himself at them, splashed them, ducked them, kicked them, muddied them, and drove them out of the pool.”


the grass harpThe Grass Harp – Truman Capote – 1951- I recently read this novella for the Truman Capote summer readathon. The story of a young orphaned boy, the aunts he lives with, and the time he and one aunt escape to a tree house in a chinaberry tree.




summer seasonIn a Summer Season – Elizabeth Taylor – 1961 – One of Elizabeth Taylor’s particularly likeable central characters Kate is a widow with a grown up son, newly married to Dermot a much younger man. As the summer begins Kate prepares for the return of her best friend’s widower Charles and his daughter Araminta. This wonderfully domestic novel has surprisingly sexual undertones, a real feel of the sixties in an upper middle class provincial home. The ending is fabulously dramatic.



greengage summerThe Greengage Summer – Rumer Godden 1958 – Set in the Champagne country of the Marne, it’s the story of 5 siblings staying in a small hotel while their mother is in hospital. The children come under the care of a mysterious Englishman, and are soon involved with several other people attached to the hotel. With its constant feeling of summer and a host of memorable characters, this is a perfect holiday read.



prodigalsummerProdigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver 2000 – A novel which weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of those inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. It’s probably twelve or thirteen years since I read this novel yet I remember it fondly, so beautifully infused with landscape and the natural world.





swimming homeSwimming Home – Deborah Levy -2011 – Swimming Home was a Man Booker shortlisted novel from 2011, another novel set during a holiday. Set in 1994, two very middle class families share a French villa. One day during the hot sultry week, they find a naked woman floating in their pool, who claims to have mixed up her holiday dates. Unbelievably she is invited to stay. A taut, psychologically deft little novel, which I enjoyed a lot – though didn’t love as much as some people.




lastkingsofsarkThe Last Kings of Sark – Rosa Rankin Gee – 2013 – An impressive debut novel, that I read quite recently. Three young adults are thrown together during a summer on Sark, what happens between them is still being felt years later.

“The world was blond, the wind was warm. These were the days that were golden.”




bonjour tristesseBonjour Tristesse- Françoise Sagan – 1954 – Seventeen-year-old Cécile spends her summer in a villa on the French Riviera with her father and his mistress. Later Anne a friend of Cécile‘s dead mother arrives, she soon replaces Elsa (the mistress) in Cécile’s father’s affections, and a jealous Cécile plots to get him back for herself using Elsa to make him jealous. It’s a very long time since I read this novel, but I remember is as being beautiful, sad and evocative.


I am sure there are a lot of books that I could have added to this list – and I am actually quite prepared to edit this list and add any suggestions I may have missed. So if you know of any really cracking good sun drenched books that are a must please let me know.

I will be reviewing The Lemon Grove in due course – but I have several blog posts scheduled for next week first. I may be in the minority but I think better authors have explored similar stories with more subtlety and more class. The cynic in me might say that sea, sun and sex sells, so Helen Walsh is on to a winner. The novel does contain several interesting discussion points however, but  I’ll save all that for another time.

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Summer reading

IMAG0301This the one almost pleasant spot in my otherwise scruffy city garden where I spent some time yesterday reading The Great Gatsby – if the sun which has tucked itself away this morning – puts in some more appearances, I am hoping it will be the site of more glorious lazy afternoon reading sessions.

Yesterday was the first day of my five and half week summer holiday. One of the first things that I consider when I think of being on holiday for any length of time is – what books shall I read? How many? Can I make an obvious dent in that TBR?

I have resisted the urge to gather a huge pile together and tell myself I will read all those – in fact I won’t be gathering together a pile to contemplate for August as I usually do at the start of a month. I want to choose randomly – my reading may be affected by mood.

I do have books I really want to read this summer though – several of them on my kindle recent publications I have bought on a whim, but now find myself really wanting to read, including the much talked about The Cuckoo’s Calling (curiosity) and two from this year’s Booker longlist; Harvest by Jim Crace and  The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin.


bloodandbeautyI also have a couple of lovely looking hardbacks which are calling me too, including Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant and After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold, which is a novel based on the relationship between Alice Liddel and Lewis Carrol, that I bought and had signed by Gaynor at a recent author talk.

It seems though that of late I have spent a lot of time reading new books and many of you may know that my great literary loves tend be to be older books – often books published before 1950. My lovely unread green viragos tempt me terribly. Thank goodness then for the Librarything Virago Group’s All Virago/All August – hurrah!

So I will have a good excuse to indulge in some lovely virago reading. *Disclaimer* some of books are not Virago editions but as they are by “Virago authors” I will be claiming them for AV/AA* I recently discovered – along with other Virago fans over on the Virago group – author Mary Hocking – I have her Good Daughters trilogy waiting and hope to read the first book at least. I would also rather like to read one of my Edith Wharton novels and I have some sumptuous looking new Virago editions of Rumer Godden novels, and I would love to get around to reading Company Parade by Storm Jameson that a friend from the much mentioned Virago group sent me a few months ago. I have some Virago novels on my kindle too – as well as many other books which I keep forgetting I have, buried away as they are inside that slim little ereader – and I may just take the kindle with me when I go away. I am away for three days next week and then away for a week from the 10th of August – hoping to be able to sit in a deckchair by the sea and read the day away. Keeping fingers crossed for some more of the good weather we have had. I am also hoping to join in with Austen in August – reading Emma which I have in a beautiful clothbound edition I got for Christmas.  I have also been yearning to read Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu from my Classics club list.

As you see – I probably have far more books I want to read this summer than I can possibly read. So if I go a bit quiet – you will know what I am doing. However as I am going to be reading only what I fancy and not at all from any lists or piles I might compile – there is no telling what I will actually read. So what are you going to reading this summer? and where will you be doing your reading?


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It’s the last day of June today – and I am looking ahead to my summer of reading. In three weeks I finish work for the summer holidays – I work in a primary school. The summer here in the UK is already shaping up to be pretty horrendous – some places had a months rain in a day this week. Therefore I will be retreating to my books – and if it turns out I can sit in the sunshine with my book – it will be an added bonus. As many of you will know Liz and I are doing a month of re-reading in July. Despite a massive TBR – I am looking forward to ignoring it and spending time re-reading books I loved before.

Despite it not quite being July – I have started on my re-reading in July pile of books. Looking at the stack in front of me, made me realise I would in fact be spending July with some old and dear friends. I am currently reading The Trumpet Major the July/August read for my Hardy reading group. I remember little of the actual plot – but just opening up my old penguin classics edition and starting to read my favourite author – is a pure joy – Hardy’s language instantly familiar to me. For the rest of the month I will be reacquainting myself with dear Dr Aziz and Mrs Moore in A Passage to India – Lucy Snow in Villette, Catherine Moorland in Northanger Abbey and Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm, not to forget dear old Poirot in Dead Man’s Folly. There is great comfort somehow in picking up a book one has read before, you feel you know what is coming – there are no nasty surprises – even if you can’t remember the whole plot. Of course each reading experience is different – I am a different person to the one who first read some of these books – and so I expect my reaction may differ somewhat too – but that is quite interesting. I am looking forward to meeting up with these old friends and seeing how we get along together now.
I had a lot of interest when I first posted about my re-reading in July challenge – so I look forward to hearing about how everyone else gets on with meeting up again with their old friends.

So that takes care of July. What about August? I will have the whole of August away from work – I will be spending one week of August on holiday by the sea in Devon. I am hoping that the Librarything Virago group will be doing the All Virago/all August, thing they did last year –as I have loads of wonderful Virago books on my TBR calling to me from the bookshelves. If Virago all August isn’t happening on Librarything – maybe I’ll do it anyway. So the weather may be a disaster – but I hope my books will keep me happy, I think they will.

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