The 12 hottest summer reads of 2017CultureLiterature
Planning which tomes you’ll relax on the sun lounger with can be exhausting (oh, the irony) but luckily we’re here to offer some literary inspiration. From gripping whodunnits set amongst Oxford spires and true-life crime in the Deep South, to romcoms in Westminster and sun-soaked romance on the Italian Riviera, we’ve picked the essential books for your summer reading list.
Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett
In 2015 Laura Barnett’s debut novel, The Versions of Us, was the blockbuster hit of the summer. Now she’s back with her bittersweet follow up and it promises to be just as good. Greatest Hits tells the story of singer-songwriter Cass Wheeler. Returning to the studio after a ten-year hiatus, she’s picking the 16 tracks that encompass love, ambition and tragedy to make up the soundtrack of her life.
The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins
Lauded TV historian Olivia Sweetman is launching her new book – a biography of distinguished Victorian surgeon, Lady Annabel Burley. But behind the successful façade, Olivia knows her reputation hangs in the balance. And it’s her research assistant, the creepy Vivian, who knows all her secrets and deceptions. This is a beautifully crafted page-turner that grips until the very last page.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
It’s 20 years since The God of Small Things won the Booker Prize and dazzled readers with its sumptuous prose and heartbreaking love story. Finally, Roy’s eagerly anticipated second novel is here. At once intimate and epic, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness follows a colourful cast of characters across the subcontinent, from Delhi to Kashmir. Roy builds up a rich tapestry of stories, exploring how individuals can be broken by the world they live in but patched together again by acts of love.
The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena MacDonald
In these politically tense times, Rowena Macdonald’s novel offers up a bit of much-needed entertainment. The backdrop to this original romcom is the House of Commons so it’s no surprise that nothing is quite what it seems. As liberal secretary Grace Ambrose counts down the tea breaks until home time, she longs for something to puncture the monotony of her routine. That something arrives in the form of enigmatic Reuben Swift. But is he really who he says he is?
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
You might not expect a book about dementia to be funny. But Khong’s novel tackles a painful subject with a gigantic injection of humour and heart. In Goodbye, Vitamin 30-year-old Ruth’s life is falling apart. So when her father is diagnosed with Alzeihmer’s, she agrees to move back home for a year. In between obsessing over the health benefits of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamins, she discovers a whole new relationship with the childlike but brilliant person her dad has become.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware has established herself as queen of the twisty, psychological thriller. Like her debut, In a Dark Dark Wood, her third book delves into the caustic side of female friendship and opens with an unexpected invitation to revisit the secrets of the past. When Isa receives a mysterious text message, she’s drawn back to the marshes of Salten – where she played “The Lying Game” with her friends as a young girl, and where she thought some things were long since buried. If you’re after a book that’s impossible to put down, look no further.
Love In Row 27 by Eithne Shortall
Could there be a more perfect holiday read than one set on an Aer Lingus plane? Row 27 to be precise. A kind of contemporary mile-high take on Emma, Shortall’s debut has wit in spades. Flight check-in attendant Cora Hendricks has always enjoyed playing Cupid. Matchmaking unsuspecting singles with a little help from on-board assistant, Nancy, she lets love take its course amongst the clouds. But will playing matchmaker ruin her own chances of finding romance?
I’d Die For You, And Other Lost Stories by F Scott Fitzgerald
If your battered copy of The Great Gasby always seems to find its way into your suitcase, this might be just the literary loot you’re looking for. Editor Anne Margaret Daniel has sifted through the archives to uncover these – up until now – unseen tales from the great chronicler of the Jazz Age. Sourced from libraries and private collections (including his own family’s), many of these short stories were rejected for publication during Fitzgerald’s own lifetime. What a treat.
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Girls has been hailed as one of the most spellbinding debuts of recent years by everyone from India Knight to Lena Dunham. Out now in paperback (hurrah), this sun-drenched, Californian coming-of-age tale is the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon on the beach. Through the story of the Manson family and their brutal crimes, Cline explores the intensity and loneliness of female adolescence with an impressive mastery of language.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Fans of Serial and Making a Murderer will love this unsettling new addition to the true-crime genre. Whilst interning at a law firm in Louisiana, Marzano-Lesnevich begins working on a case that takes her into the darkest recesses of humanity: the retrial of Ricky Langley, a convicted child molester and murderer. But as she digs deeper into Ricky’s past, she discovers parallels with her own family history – and finds out the truth can be far more complex than it first appears.
The Invitation by Lucy Foley
If your perfect beach read demands mystery, glamour and romance all wrapped up in a Mediterranean setting, this one’s for you. The Invitation transports the reader to 1950s Italy, where an eclectic group of characters are drawn like fireflies to the Riviera – amongst them English journalist, Hal, and enigmatic society beauty, Stella. But lurking beneath the glittering surface are post-war scars that cast a long shadow over the present. Lucy Foley has served up a gorgeous slice of summer escapism.
Party Girls Die in Pearls (An Oxford Girl Mystery) by Plum Sykes
Murder most fabulous is the order of the day in Plum Sykes’s new novel – her first in nearly a decade. Set in the author’s alma mater, Oxford University, in 1985, it’s as quintessentially English as Pimms, punting and Agatha Christie. The action unfolds when our heroine (the gloriously named Ursula Flowerbutton) arrives for her first term and stumbles upon a horrible crime. Swapping history books for sleuthing, she resolves to crack the case and bag her first scoop for the student paper.