As fanatics of fiction we all know about the transportive powers of a good book, so what better distraction from the heat and humidity than a bookish balm that’ll have you feeling cooler than a penguin’s toe in no time at all?
The Pool House by Tasmina Perry
There’s something about summer reading that commands a book with a super-glam setting peopled by the privileged rich … and Tasmina Perry is the doyenne of this genre. Set in the Hamptons, The Pool House is dripping with money, and an enticing dollop of mystery. It has glamour, a likeable leading lady, beaches, cocktails, a charming outsider, and … key to this list … a beautiful house on a sandy beach. Sigh! I can’t resist an easy-reading mystery at this time of year, and The Pool House delivered in spades.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
As a fan of The Girl on the Train I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to this latest book by Paula Hawkins. Into the Water is the twisting tale of a lonely 15 year old girl in the care of her aunt. Against her best intentions, her aunt is drawn back to a small town she vowed she’s never return to, a town with a preternaturally cold, dark river that’s claimed the lives of too many women. Memories and secrets are dredged from the river, whilst tension and emotions are dredged up from the reader.
Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard
Ice Cream!!! Isn’t that something we all crave when the mercury rises? Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris (recommended read: Lunch in Paris). With a baby on the way they’ve moved to Provence, where they discover a land of blue skies, lavender fields, and peaches that taste like sunshine. Seduced by the local ingredients, they begin a new adventure, starting their own artisanal ice cream shop. With wit, humour, and a scoop of wild strawberry sorbet, Bard reminds us that life is a rendez-vous with the unexpected. PS – contains many delicious recipes that’ll have you rushing to the kitchen.
Swimming Pool Sunday by Madeleine Wickham
An oldie … but a goodie! Swimming Pool Sunday is a compulsive everyday drama that uses the ‘butterfly effect’ theory with staggering precision. On a beautifully hot Sunday, the Delaney’s open their pool to the village for charity. Louise is there with her daughters, soaking up the sun whilst they play in the pool. So far, so lovely. But Louise has a new man in her life, and as she daydreams beside the pool tragedy strikes and the perfect day is shattered. Friendships and relationships are tested to their limits as villagers take sides, legal muscles are flexed, and recriminations start to fly.
Sashenka by Simon Sebag Montefiore
If swimming pools, ice cream, and the ocean aren’t enough to cool you, then how about the chilly blast of a Russian winter? Sashenka is the first in a trilogy that I enjoyed immeasurably! The book begins in 1916 in beautiful St Petersburg, with Russia on the brink of revolution. Headstrong 16 year old Sashenka slips into the frozen night to play her part in a dangerous game of conspiracy and seduction, whilst her mother parties with Rasputin and her dissolute friends. Twenty years later, Sashenka is a wife and mother who moves in affluent, influential circles, but who isn’t immune to love or the chilling danger of Stalin’s dreadful regime. Sashenka’s story lies hidden for half a century, until a young historian goes deep into Stalin’s private archives and uncovers a heart-breaking tale of passion and betrayal, savage cruelty and unexpected heroism – and one woman forced to make an unbearable choice.
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
In all honesty, I’ve not read The Swimming Pool … yet! It kept popping up as a recommendation whilst I was searching my GoodReads back-history to create this shortlist. I gave in (with very little resistance, truth be told) and read the synopsis … and within the blink of an eye I’d kindled it. So, here’s what the blurb says …
It’s summer when Elm Hill lido opens, having stood empty for years. For Natalie Steele – wife, mother, teacher – it offers freedom from the tightly controlled routines of work and family. Especially when it leads her to Lara Channing, a charismatic former actress with a lavish bohemian lifestyle, who seems all too happy to invite Natalie into her elite circle. Soon Natalie is spending long days at the pool, socializing with new friends and basking in a popularity she didn’t know she’d been missing. Real life, and the person she used to be, begins to feel very far away. But is such a change in fortunes too good to be true? Why are dark memories of a summer long ago now threatening to surface? And, without realizing, could Natalie have been swept dangerously out of her depth?