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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (2018)

D'you fancy a historical novel filled with passion, obsession and glittering details? Then plunge yourself back in time with this breath-taking tale about a merchant who sells his ship for a mermaid. It's touching, it's funny and it's sad, with characters who will nestle close to your heart from start to finish. Quite frankly, it's the ultimate absorbing read when you've got plenty of time on your hands.

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (2020)

Nothing says 'pick-me-up' like a Marian Keyes novel, and her latest Grown Ups is lavishly long, which means you don't have to part from the amazing cast of characters too soon. It's about all the knotty drama and difficulties that lie beneath a seemingly happy family, with laughter and tears along the way, as well as a good old dollop of truth-telling when a family secret spills at a party. It's fun, it's emotional and it's a book you'll love spending time with.

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018)

You'll be empowered, inspired and humbled by the incredible memoir by Michelle Obama. She gives an honest, funny and often emotional account of her beginnings as a young black girl living in Chicago, to her ambitious teenage years that got her to Havard, to her time as a high-flying lawyer who fell in love with a man who, later on, decided he wanted to run for President of the United States. With insight into her bold career moves, loving but imperfect marriage and principled parenthood, it's an intimate way to get to know this quietly powerful, resoundingly kind and ever-optimistic woman. It's uplifting as well as enthralling, and very much like talking to a friend about her life, instead of reading about politics.

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell (1956)

Escape to blue skies and sea-skimmed bays with The Corfu Trilogy, three escapist stories about a family who decamp to a sun-soaked island to live their lives. It's about childhood, and Gerald's love of animals, and the mayhem of ordinary family life set amid olive groves and white-sand beaches. It's the purest, loveliest holiday read you could hold in your hands. Sink into its sunny depths and let yourself get washed away.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (2018)

Lose yourself in the world of Victorian London with this magical book that'll suck you in from the very beginning. A child is brought to an inn, drowned in the Thames. But then, hours after her death, she takes a breath. Is it magic or a miracle? And where does she come from? Utterly intriguing, perhaps best described as an adult fairytale with a shimmering dark edge, it's a story that'll entrance you from beginning to end.

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen by Jane Austen (1811)

Who doesn't love Jane Austen, right? Maybe you read Pride and Prejudice in school, and maybe you regularly enjoy a screen adaptation of Emma or Sense and Sensibility of an evening. But why not use the time to slip into each of her six novels, all of them as witty and bright as her most famous stories? Her wicked sense of humour and razor sharp understanding of both drama and happy endings makes them the perfect summer reading.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)

It's always a good idea to turn to a classic when you've got some extra time. Bleak House by Charles Dickens opens in the twilight of foggy London, and takes you on a journey of a complex lawsuit which will seemingly never end. (Kind of like lockdown, right?) It's clever, it's all-consuming, and it's full of spirit that'll keep you turning the pages through its impressive length. Filled with unforgettable characters, intrigue, ruined love and gorgeous descriptions, it's a book that'll tug you along on its undercurrent. Float along and enjoy the ride.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (2019)

Did you love Me Before You? Then sink into this lovely long novel by the same author, with a feisty heroine you'll fall in love with. The problem is, Alice isn't exactly in love with her new American husband. So she signs up to help out at a library, where she meets Margery, and her life opens up to a world of adventure and sparkling friendship. It's a wonderful whirlwind read that'll leave you enchanted and desperate to read it again.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan (2018)

Mermaids, boxers and ballerinas are just a few of the enchanting characters in this unforgettable book. Maya lives on an island where everyone ends their days on the cliffs, turned to stone. But she wants for more, especially when the intriguing Peal arrives and turns her life upside down. It's a bewitching tale of first love, family ties, grief and childhood. With a smattering of magic and the most beautiful setting of a sea-soaked shore, it'll having you holding your breath as if underwater, not wanting to break the surface when it ends. You'll be totally transfixed.

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