Here it is at last – Verity’s top suggestions for what to read on your holiday. And less than six weeks after my holiday when I started the list of what I wanted to include. Ahem. It has a lot of footnotes (sorry) and I still haven’t got to the bottom of the list of books that I thought I might want to include, so it may yet have a sequel!
The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwoodª
This was my favourite book that I read on holiday – and not just because the fab Kirsty runs Novelicious (who I also review for). The Vintage Guide is funny and sweary and perfect and I nearly got sunburnt because I was to distracted by Jessica Beam’s antics. I laughed and I cried (on the beach – how embarrassing) – and I was rooting her on. She’s got a lot to figure out and some issues to overcome, but Jess is so easy to identify with. Everyone’s had similar experiences to some of the stuff that she goes through albeit probably less extreme. Perfect for lazy days on the sunlounger. Amazon* Kindle Kobo
The Versions of Us by Laura Barnettª
This one isn’t out in paperback yet, so it might be one for your e-reader rather than your suitcase, but Laura Barnett’s debut novel is well worth a read. It’s been hyped as a One Day meets Sliding Doors – and that’s kind of right – except that I liked it much more than I liked One Day – and it’s got three different realities to Sliding Doors’ two. The Versions of Us presents three different futures based on one encounter in Cambridge in the 1950s. For me, the best part of it was that none of the possibilities seemed to be marked out as being the “right” one – all of the different versions felt real – with ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. I’m not usually one for books that have been really hyped – but this one’s worth it. Foyles, Kindle, Kobo
The Other Daughter by Lauren Willigª
Another hardback recent release (I’m sorry) but Lauren Willig’s latest stand-alone book just had to go on this list. Rachel Woodley infiltrates the Bright Young Things after discovering that her life-story isn’t quite what she thought it was. If you’re interested in the 1920s, you’ll spot familiar faces as Willig weaves her fictional characters into the real crowd who were racketing around causing chaos and scandalising their parents. This is less romance than Willig’s other books** – and is the first to be set just in one time period, and it’s engrossing and brilliant. This one is pricier and harder to get hold of in the UK, although if you’re holidaying in the States you could buy it out there. Kindle, Amazon, Foyles, Kobo
The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
This is new Christie Estate sanctioned Poirot mystery – out now in paperback and which should be easy to get hold of at the airport should you arrive there and discover that you’re short of reading matter. I enjoyed it – but a week on I’m still trying to work out if it felt like a “proper” Poirot or not. It certainly helps that Hannah has created herself a new policeman who narrates the story – so the famous Belgian is not always centre stage. The mystery is well put together and intriguing although I have some of the same reservations about this that did about the Wimsey continuations – but I can’t go into them because it’s a sort of plot spoiler. Never the less it’s a good crime novel set in the Golden Age which will entertain you by the side of the pool. Amazon*, Kindle, Kobo.
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens
It wouldn’t be a list of recommendations from me without a kids/YA recommendation – and this time its the latest Wells and Wong mystery. Both the previous books in the series have already appeared on the blog (first one, second one) and book 3 is Steven’s homage to Murder on the Orient Express. Yes I know, two Poirot-y books in one post, sue me. One of our regular treats when I was little was to borrow the audiobook of David Suchet reading Murder on the Orient Express from the library to listen to in the car on the way to our holiday – and my parents had their first date at the Peter Ustinov film version, so it has a very special place in my heart. Stevens’ story has enough nods to the Poirot for those who’ve read it to get the warm fuzzies inside, but still manages to be totally its own book too. One for the late primary kid with a good reading age, or lower secondary kids and of course for grown-ups who are children at heart. Foyles, Waterstones*** Kindle, Kobo
So there you have it. My favourite holiday books for your summer break. Or your next holiday if you’ve already been and got back! Hopefully there’s something here that appeals to you. And sorry again for the footnotes, but the history graduate in me finds it the best way to deal with my stream of consciousness ramblings!
ª Books with an ª next to their titles came to me via NetGalley. The others I bought for myself, with actual, proper money.
*By a fortuitous chance, several of my picks are in Amazon’s 3 for £10 promotion – so I’ve put amazon links to those (rather than Foyles) to help cut the cost of buying my recommendations. If you don’t make it to three on Amazon, recent BotW’s The Cake Shop in the Garden and The Day We Disappeared are also in the promotion, as is the paperback of Marian Keyes’ The Woman Who Stole My Life – a BotW back in November, RJ Palacio’s Wonder (a March BotW) and Graeme Simison’s The Rosie Project which I have raved about plenty and you should have read already!
** Willig’s 12th and final Pink Carnation book has just come out as well – if you haven’t discovered her yet and are looking for a series to binge on on your holiday, they may be a good choice – timeslip historical spy romances – featuring a heroine in Napoleonic France and a modern day American grad student researching her.
***Waterstones have totally championed the Wells and Wong series – so they get a link as well as Foyles.