So you’ve read my Comfort Reading Picks post, now you want the Beach Reads don’t you? Well, here we go…
Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling/reworking of Pride and Prejudice is my top pick for the beach. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this before it came out here in May and had to restrain myself from raving about it straight away. It’s part of the Austen Project and it’s so clever. Sittenfeld has taken P&P and rather than translating it direct to the current day, she’s thought about what the modern equivalent of the books situations might be. So we have Lizzy the magazine writer brought home by her dad’s health scare, Jane the Yoga Instructor, Bingley the Reality TV star (and doctor) and Darcy the neurosurgeon. Kitty and Lydia are crossfit obsessed Paleo fans and Mrs B is a kleptomaniac desperate to marry off her nearly 40 year old oldest daughter. I thought it was brilliant – funny and smart and spot on. I lent it straight to my mother – I wasn’t sure if she’d buy into the changes the way I did, but she loved it too. Perfect beach reading – it’s a hardback, but I’m hoping there’ll be airport paperback copies too if you’re buying en route. If not: Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles, Kindle, Kobo.
Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins
If you’ve been watching the ITV series, you may already have read James Runcie’s books about Grantchester’s vicar. I prefer them to the TV version and I particularly like their episodic nature – each book has several mysteries, some (most) involving deaths and some which don’t. As you work your way through the series you see Sidney grow and mature. He’s 32 in the first one – which is set in the 1950s, and by the fourth one we’re into the 1960s. I haven’t read book five yet – because it’s only out in paperback, but if you’re looking for a series to read while sitting in the garden enjoying the British summer, a visit to Grantchester might be an ideal option for you. I think it would work best if you start at the beginning of the series, but the latest paperback (Forgiveness of Sins) should be fairly easy to find in the shops at the moment. Forgiveness of Sins: Amazon, Kindle, Foyles, Waterstones, Kobo. Shadow of Death: Amazon, Kindle, Foyles, Waterstones, Kobo.
Ok, so this is a second crime recommendation – and a much broader one. Go have a look at Fahrenheit Press’s catalogue. There will definitely be something that you’ll like. I’ve already picked Black Rubber Dress, Murder Quadrille and Death of a Nobody as Books of the Week, and I could have added others to that list. I have their subscription – and I have several books waiting for me to read on my Kindle – including more Sam Jones which I’m saving for a holiday binge. There’s thrillers, more cozies, historical and pretty much every other type of crime there, all with a slightly different perspective. I defy you not to find a beach read there – and more are being added at a rate of knots. They’ve only just started bringing out actual physical books – so the best way to find them is to search for Fahrenheit Press on Amazon – or check out their website.
This is about as close to an Old School Historical Romance novel as you get in new books these days – and does all the best bits of those late 80s and early 90s books, but without the rape and rapey bits I find so problematic. This is not subtle. It’s big, it’s melodramatic, it’s very Scottish. I recommended The Highwayman last year – and this isn’t quite as good as that, but it is very good. It has governesses and secret identities – which I like – but also an asylum (which I didn’t like and might be triggering for some) and a subplot with a brother which I didn’t like. I know that sounds a bit less than enthusiastic from me – but it’s not – I kept turning the pages and I was engrossed. Worth a look if you like your romances Gothic with brooding damaged Scottish heroes. Amazon and Kindle are probably your best bet for this, as although Waterstones lists the two earlier titles in this series, it doesn’t have this one there yet.
So there you go. My Summer reading suggestions. Slightly later than planned (sorry) but hopefully still in time for the summer. And if you’re still at a loss – I’ve stuck to books I haven’t recommended before, so don’t forget The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts, Sunset in Central Park, The Tumbling Turner Sisters and Jane Steele which would all be great to read on the beach.