Not much reading done this month and I’m hoping that is just a blip as things were starting pick up on the reading front. Nothing to do with the book choices, just the usual inability to concentrate. However as the miraculous has happened and Wales have permitted staycations from 13th July I’m hoping that might change. The cottage we originally had booked from June, that we managed to put back until early July has been luckily put back again and so we will be going on holiday (barring any changes in policy). I’m anticipating that we’ll probably be spending less time in cafes, shops and tourist attractions and possibly more time relaxing and hopefully reading. As we’ve been working all the way through the pandemic, this is not the dismal prospect it might be for some who are wanting to jump back into doing what they’ve missed. Consequently hoping to have better news on the reading front next month. Needless to say, I never have any difficulty buying!
Bought this month – mainstream publishers
From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley
With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the Farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.
When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy’s true story. Emmy’s letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice – where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.
Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet’s problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy’s mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to re-discover their sisterly bond?
The Cutting Place by Jane Casey
You’ve got to be in the club to know the truth.
Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.
DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared.
It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?
The Most Fun we Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
MEET THE SORENSON FAMILY
MARILYN has somehow fallen into motherhood and spent four decades married to
DAVID, who’s pretty certain he loves her more than anyone has ever loved another person.
WENDY, their eldest, a cause for concern, soothes herself with drink after being widowed young,
while VIOLET, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mother, is disturbed by the reappearance of a son placed for adoption fifteen years earlier.
LIZA, a professor, is pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves
and GRACE, their dawdling youngest daughter, lives a lie that no one in her family suspects.
Our Dark Secret by Jenny Quintana
The crazy girls, they called them – or at least, Elizabeth liked to think they did. As a teenager in the late 1970s, she was clever, overweight and a perfect victim for the bullies. Then Rachel and her family arrived in town and, for Elizabeth, it was as if a light had been switched on. She was drawn to the bright and beautiful Rachel like a moth to a flame.
Rachel had her own reasons for wanting Elizabeth as a friend, and although their relationship was far from equal, Elizabeth would do anything for Rachel.
Then the first body was discovered.
Twenty years on, Elizabeth wants nothing more than to keep the secrets of her teenage years where they belong: in the past. But another body has been found, and she can’t keep running from what happened.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.
On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?
Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.
Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.
Where we Belong by Anstey Harris
One family learning to love again.
Cate Morris and her son, Leo, are homeless, adrift. They’ve packed up the boxes from their London home, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and now they are on their way to ‘Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World – to stay just for the summer. Cate doesn’t want to be there, in Richard’s family home without Richard to guide her any more. And she knows for sure that Araminta, the retainer of the collection of dusty objects and stuffed animals, has taken against them. But they have nowhere else to go. They have to make the best of it.
But Richard hasn’t told Cate the truth about his family’s history. And something about the house starts to work its way under her skin.
Can she really walk away, once she knows the truth?
When All is Said by Anne Griffin
Five toasts. Five people. One lifetime
‘I’m here to remember – all that I have been and all that I will never be again.’
At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual -though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.
Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories – of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice – the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.
Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.
The Silence by Susan Allott
It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, Joe, phoning from Sydney.
30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. Joe claims he thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and he’s under suspicion of murder.
Back home in Sydney, Isla’s search for the truth takes her back to 1967, when two couples lived side by side on a quiet street by the sea. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?
Independent & Self Published Book purchases
The Cornish Village School : Breaking the Rules by Kitty Wilson
Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love.
Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy, right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.
In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool.
Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources?
Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton
When reporter Rebecca Connolly is told of Roddie Drummond’s return to the island of Stoirm she senses a story. Fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover, Mhairi. When he was found Not Proven, Roddie left the island and no one, apart from his sister, knew where he was or what he was doing. Now he has returned for his mother’s funeral – and it will spark an explosion of hatred, bitterness and violence.
Defying her editor’s wishes, Rebecca joins forces with local photographer Chazz Wymark to dig into the secrets surrounding Mhairi’s death, and her mysterious last words of Thunder Bay, the secluded spot on the west coast of the island where, according to local lore, the souls of the dead set off into the after life. When another murder takes place, and the severe weather that gives the island its name hits, she is ideally placed to uncover the truth about what happened that night fifteen years before.
A Great Beauty by A O’Connor
An epic story of war, love, suspense, betrayal and murder – the Michael Collins story.
It is 1920 and, as the War of Independence rages throughout Ireland, Michael Collins is the most wanted man in the British Empire. He lives a life in hiding, conducting guerrilla warfare, outsmarting the authorities, a figure of mystery and intrigue. Very few know even what he looks like. He occasionally finds rest and comfort with the family of Kitty Kiernan, his best friend’s sweetheart. Then Michael finds himself falling in love with the complex and enigmatic Kitty.
Lady Hazel Lavery, wife of famous artist Sir John Lavery, is considered the most beautiful and charming society hostess in London. An American of Irish descent, haunted by a tragic past, she sets out to use her friendships with men like Winston Churchill to bring peace to Ireland.
When Michael, recently engaged to Kitty, arrives in London as part of the Irish peace delegation, he finds himself the centre of intense public fascination. Hazel Lavery takes Michael under her wing and navigates him through London high society. They form a close bond and soon are engulfed in rumours of an affair and accusations that Michael has been seduced by the glamour of London and by Hazel. Kitty all but despairs at the situation but is determined to fight for him.
After the infamous Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland veers towards civil war. As Michael, Hazel and Kitty arrive in Dublin that fateful week in August 1922,the war is at its zenith – and this love triangle is about to implode with devastating results.
The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
There’s a fine line between kill and cure.
Edinburgh, 1849. Despite Edinburgh being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson. A whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.
Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron’s name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.
Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets to clear Simpson’s name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.
Dune Song by Anissa M Bouziane
‘I came to the Sahara to be buried.’
After witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Centre, Jeehan Nathaar leaves her New York life with her sense of identity fractured and her American dream destroyed. She returns to Morocco to make her home with a family that’s not her own. Healed by their kindness but caught up in their troubles, Jeehan struggles to move beyond the pain and confusion of September 11th. On this desiccated landscape, thousands of miles from Ground Zero, the Dune sings of death, love, and forgiveness.
Painted Ladies by Lynn Bushell
Paris 1917. For twenty-five years, the legendary Marthe has been Pierre Bonnard’s companion and muse. His new model Renée, lovely and captivating, thinks it’s time her rival stepped aside. But Marthe won’t give up her place in history without a fight. An artist may have many models but there can be only one muse.
The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.
But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.
The Gamekeeper’s Wife by Clare Flynn
A gripping tale of love, duty, sacrifice and determination in the aftermath of the First World War.
Martha Walters is the widow of an abusive man. Martha has nothing and is about to lose her home.
Christopher Shipley is the reluctant heir to a substantial family fortune. He has more money than he needs or wants, and responsibilities he cannot shirk.
They were never meant to fall in love, but sometimes the wrong person is the right one. Then a terrible secret is revealed, which could force them apart.
From an English country house to the jungles of Borneo, The Gamekeeper’s Wife, is sure to keep you up reading all night.
Cold Sunflowers by Mark Sippings
‘Everything happens for a reason.’
It’s 1972. Raymond Mann is seventeen. He is fearful of life and can’t get off buses. He says his prayers every night and spends too much time in his room.
He meets Ernest Gardiner, a gentleman in his seventies who’s become tired of living and misses the days of chivalry and honour. Together they discover a love of sunflowers and stars, and help each other learn to love the world.
Ernest recounts his experiences of 1917 war-torn France where he served as a photographer in the trenches … of his first love, Mira, and how his life was saved by his friend Bill, a hardened soldier.
But all is not as it seems, and there is one more secret that will change Raymond’s life for ever.
Cold Sunflowers is a story of love.
But most of all it’s about the love of life and the need to cherish every moment.
The Little Shop in Cornwall by Helen Pollard
Claudia thought she knew how this summer was going to go. Turns out, she didn’t have a clue…
It’s been two years since Claudia arrived on the beautifully rugged Cornish coast with nothing but a suitcase to her name. She’d walked out on the husband who had never loved her, ditched the corporate job she’d never wanted and vowed that no gym membership card would come within ten feet of her ever again.
Swapping boardrooms and cocktails for a little shop right at the end of the beach road should have been a bit of a shock. But from the moment she first laid eyes on the empty, run-down store, Claudia knew this was where she was meant to be all along.
After all that upheaval, Claudia was looking forward to a quiet summer, full of the usual holiday makers and long walks along the clifftops. But life in her patch of paradise is about to change in more ways than one.
Enter recently widowed Jason, dragging his sullen teenage daughter Millie in tow. Millie and Claudia immediately hit it off. And while Millie loves everything about Claudia’s free-spirited way of life, practical architect Jason is less than thrilled about his daughter’s new interests. He doesn’t shy away from telling Claudia exactly what he thinks and sparks fly every time they meet.
But as circumstances throw Claudia into Jason’s path in increasingly unexpected ways, she begins to glimpse what lies beneath his fiery temper and sharp tongue. Claudia was sure her new life was perfect in every way. But was there something missing after all?
Jigsaw Island by Lynne McVernon
Know who your friends are…
On a holiday escape to the Greek islands, Annie Buchanan discovers what – and then who – is missing from her life.
When single mother, Annie, and son Jude take a break away from Scotland to stay with her brother and friends on Symi, they find the warmth and support they need. As they relax into the familiar rhythm of island life, old and new acquaintances change the course of their vacation. Whether it’s for better or worse, Annie will discover when she visits the island of Leros. There she may be able to put together some of the missing pieces in her life and learn who her friends really are. But she cannot be prepared for some uncomfortable truths about the past and the dramatic way in which they will change the present for her… and Jude.
Elsewhere by Rosita Boland
From her first life-changing solo trip to Australia as a young graduate, Rosita Boland was enthralled by travel. In the last thirty years she has visited some of the most remote parts of the globe carrying little more than a battered rucksack and a diary.
Documenting nine journeys from nine different moments in her life, Elsewhere reveals how exploring the world – and those we meet along the way – can dramatically shape the course of a person’s life. From death-defying bus journeys through Pakistan to witnessing the majestic icescapes of Antarctica to putting herself back together in Bali, Rosita experiences moments of profound joy and endures deep personal loss.
In a series of jaw-dropping, illuminating and sometimes heart-breaking essays, Elsewhere is a book that celebrates the life well-travelled in all its messy and wondrous glory.
A reminder that many of my purchases are made in the Kindle sale, if you want to take advantage of that be aware that today is the last day. You can remind yourself of what’s on offer here.