The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Imogen Hermes Gowar

On a September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock’s life is turned upside down when one of his captains sells one of his ships for a ‘mermaid’. Take a journey through the parlours, brothels and coffee shops of Georgian England within the pages of this escapist summer jaunt.

Warlight

Michael Ondaatje

From the author of The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje’s new book is ideal for those who like their summer reads with a side order of intrigue. In post-war London, 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. A dozen years later Nathaniel sets out to uncover the truth behind their shadowy carer, a thrilling and vivid journey you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from.

So Much Life Left Over

Louis de Bernières

For a family epic spanning continents, it has to be this sweeping, heartbreaking novel from Louis de Bernières. We follow Daniel in his troubled marriage with Rosie who have moved to Ceylon with their little daughter to start a new life at the dawn of the 1920s, attempting to put the trauma of the First World War behind them, and to rekindle a marriage that gets colder every day. True to life, their story is humorous and tragic, and this is a brilliant portrayal of the extraordinary interwar years both in England and abroad.

The Mars Room

Rachel Kushner

Loved Orange is the New Black? Meet Romy Hall, a former lap dancer at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Severed from her San Francisco home and her seven-year-old son, Jackson, with only the absurdities of institutional living for comfort; Romy’s story is told with such blistering wit and urgency, you’ll be on the edge of your poolside deckchair.

The Female Persuasion

Meg Wolitzer

If you’re looking for a rollicking summer read with heart and ideas, this might just be your perfect match.  A shy college student is plucked from obscurity by a leading light of the women’s movement and given the opportunity of a lifetime; an opportunity for which she just might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear.

The Only Story

Julian Barnes

If you can’t trust Man Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes to write a phenomenal holiday read, who can you trust? This is the love story of a young man on the cusp of adulthood and a woman who has long been there. The perfect choice for those who like their beach reads reflective and shot through with moments of startling beauty.

A Place For Us 

Fatima Farheen Mirza

A glorious exploration of identity, family bonds and belonging, hand-chosen by Sarah Jessica-Parker; make room on your summer TBR pile for this one. An Indian Muslim family gathers together to prepare for their eldest daughter’s wedding, and parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, told with dazzling precision and tenderness.

Men Without Women

Haruki Murakami

Whether you’re already a die-hard Murakami fan, or a newcomer to his work; you’ll be glad you left room in your suitcase for this contemporary classic. A stunning collection of seven stories, each one about a man who finds himself alone, from lovelorn doctors to bartenders and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa.

Beautiful Animals

Lawrence Osborne

This is surely the ultimate beach read. A seductively menacing thriller, told with sophistication and a willingness to delve into the nastier elements of the human psyche. It’s a white-hot summer on the Greek island of Hydra, and tourists Naomi and Samantha discover a young Arab man washed up on shore, a casualty of the crisis raging across the Aegean, and embark on a dangerous path to help him.

The Idiot

Elif Batuman

Shortlisted for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, it’s easy to see why this debut about the birth of the Internet, and the pains of growing up, has struck a chord with so many. Selin, a highly-strung Turkish-American from New Jersey turns up at Harvard and finds herself dangerously overwhelmed by the challenges and possibilities of adulthood. For those who like their holiday reads with a dash of wry humour.

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