As always I am running somewhat late with my seasonal recommendations. I mean I started this post months ago, but a mix of life-gets-in-the-way and “I’m sure there must be something else that I’ll read and want to recommend means that I’m only now getting around to posting it, in what I could try and claim is mid August, but is actually probably late August. Still at least I’ve got it out before the Bank Holiday weekend. But hey, if you’ve been here a while, you’ll know that that’s basically me in a nutshell: full of good intentions and plans, but coming slightly unstuck in the execution. See also my university dissertation. Anyway, to the summer recommendations.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid*
To be honest, I’m not sure this really needs any introduction, or its inclusion here will come as any real surprise to you. I loved Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest was much hyped and was on a lot of other people’s lists this summer. Centred around the night of a party in 1980s Malibu that ends in a house burning down, it tells the story of the Riva siblings. Children of a legendary singer, they are themselves in the limelight. Nina is a surfer and model, Jay and Hud tour the world together on the surfing circuit – where one surfs and the other photographs – and their little sister Kit. They shared a troubled childhood and they all have secrets. Over the course of the book you learn what drives them and watch them figure out what next and what their relationships with each other are going to look like now they’re adults. It’s perfect sun lounger reading, gloriously page turning escapism that looks at family ties, fame and obligations.
The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan*
Eighty-year-old Kathleen used to be a TV travel presenter. After a run in with a burglar at her seaside home, she decides that she needs another adventure – much to the dismay of her daughter Liza. Liza wants her mum to move into a home, not going off on a road trip abroad. Liza herself is drowning under the weight of family obligations and is stuck in a rut. Martha is also at a bit of a turning point in her life. Unfulfilled personally and professionally she answers Kathleen’s advertisement for a driver to accompany her on her American road trip and applies for the job even though she’s not exactly the most confident driver in the world. Over the course of the summer you see the women explore their lives and their relationships and work a few things out. I usually prefer Sarah Morgan’s romances to her women’s fiction but this is actually a lot of fun. I wanted a little bit more closure for each of the women but it was a satisfying read overall – I read it in 24 hours so that says something!
Rosaline Palmer takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
I wrote about Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material earlier in the year, and Hall’s newest novel features a heroine who is contestant on a televised baking show that is about as close as you can get to The Great British Bake-off without needing rights holder approval. Rosaline is a single mum whose parents are perpetually disappointed in her for not following in their academic and high-flying footsteps. On the way to the first weekend of competition, she meets fellow contestant Alain, who is suave and sophisticated and interested in her – and everything her parents would approve of. But it’s actually Harry, a shy electrician who is the contestant that Rosaline is in danger of falling for – even though that would be a disaster. I was worried for a while that Rosaline was going to pick the Wrong Person but that was mostly because I hadn’t read the blurb (well not properly at least) and I was expecting a more straight-forward romance and the structure is a little different to the other Hall books that I have read. Lots of fun.
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee*
Solène only goes to the boyband concert because her ex husband can’t take their daughter at the last minute. But at the meet and greet, one of the band’s members starts flirting with her. Hayes is handsome, clever, funny and one of the biggest stars in the world. He’s also 20 and Solène is 38. When their initial secret meetings turn into a proper relationship, it all gets complicated – especially when the public find out. Can Hayes and Solène go the distance or is their relationship having too much of an effect on the people she cares about most? This is the wildcard of this summer’s selection. Think a One Direction member falls in love with an older woman and you’ll get the sort of vibe. I can see that some people are going to love this, for me it was a bit infuriating. I wanted to read it because of the Taylor Jenkins Reid blurb (for reasons that are obvious given the first pick of this post!) but I found all the characters irritating to a greater or lesser extent. In addition, this is being shelved as a romance on some vendors and on here and it absolutely isn’t. It has a romance in it yes, but it’s not for reasons that are very spoilery, but you can probably guess. I’m including it here, even though it was a not really for me book – because I think some people are going to devour this and I feel like if I was on a sun lounger around the pool this summer then I would be surrounded by people reading it!
So there you have it, four summery reading options. They’re all in similar sorts of areas – women’s fiction and romance – but then that’s mostly what I’m reading at the moment, if you exclude all the mystery novels that I’ve already told you about! I would expect all of these to be fairly easily available – my only doubt was Rosaline Palmer, but I can see copies available for Click and Collect at Foyles, which is delightful.