So far this summer, the UK has provided a baffling triptych of wind, rain and sun. Dark clouds follow blue skies and barbecue invites draw a snigger. Whatever the weather, one thing we can always rely on is a great book to take us to faraway places, allow new ideas to surface, and inspire us throughout the season. This month’s book club books are fit for the beach or a wet weekend – the aim is to relax and for your mind to be transported elsewhere.
THE GIRLS – EMMA CLINE
Oscillating between the teenage years and adulthood of protagonist Evie Boyd, Emma Cline’s tantalising debut novel transports us to the murky world of a Manson-family-like cult – where women are objects and life can be nasty, brutal and short but where female relationships are powerful and life changing. Evie meets the cult girls in a Californian park in the 1960s. What begins as a friendly childhood infatuation sees Evie drawn deeper into the cult run by a charismatic male leader whilst her parents’ breakup rages in the background. As an adult Evie unearths memories of her time with the girls, she questions society then and now and her own morality in some of the suspect goings on. The result gives us an insight into fear and the fragility of freedom.
The Girls, Emma Cline, Vintage Publishing
INVINCIBLE SUMMER – ALICE ADAMS
For those that loved One Day or The Versions of Us comes a fresh take on one of my favourite literary devices – to chart a life by date, revisiting characters over time. Invincible Summers follows four friends for twenty summers – starting as they are finishing university, sitting on the green, excited by their lives ahead, and ending as they approach 40 and have faced life’s trials and tribulations. Eva is our protagonist who comes from a lefty family. After studying Physics she has unintentionally found herself in the cutthroat world of London’s Square Mile. As the friends’ lives take divergent paths – from starting a family, to a prison sentence for drug offences – we observe how friendships evolve over decades. Author Amy Adams has created a world that will resonate with us all, that is unflinchingly uncompromising and urges us to remember those friendships we cherish.
Invincible Summer, Alice Adams – Pan Macmillan
HERE COMES THE SUN – NICOLE DENNIS-BENN
Under the scorching heat of the Caribbean sun we meet Margot, a highly ambitious hotel assistant who will do anything for financial gain to mobilise her teenage sister Thandi out of the ghetto in which she lives. Thandi is meanwhile preoccupied with her looks and secret skin-bleaching activities. As Margot delves deeper into the murky underworld of hotel resorts and the sex trade she risks leaving her sister and her real love, a woman, behind. A brave and assured debut by Jamaican Nicole Dennis-Benn – with its rich language and provocative storyline this novel has made it to my book of the year list.
Here Comes The Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn – WW Norton (Available3o August, 2016)
ADDLANDS – TOM BULLOUGH
For Tom Bullough’s fourth novel, Addlands, we head to Wales and follow two generations of the Hamer family working the Funnon Farm deep in the Welsh borders. Over seven decades we witness the family’s developing bonds to each other and to the land they are born on. We meet Idris, who is plagued by memories of World War I; his son Oliver, a drinker and a fighter; and Etta, Oliver’s mother who is struggling to keep up with the ever-changing world that threatens their existence. Bullough paints an alluring tale of land and complex characters through exquisite language and an innate understanding of what it means to belong.
Addlands, Tom Bullough – Granta Books
A WALK IN THE PARK – TRAVIS ELBOROUGH
Parks are an essential part of our societies. No matter where you live, reside or travel to, a park gives you a sense of peace and is often at once a space public and private unlike any other. The erudite cultural historian Travis Elborough brings us this witty and deeply researched ramble through the history of parks. In doing so he offers a myriad of insights, from the first parks used as royal hunting grounds, to their conversion into wartime farms. Covering not just the UK but also hopping across the Channel and over the Atlantic, Elborough also presents a host of illuminating characters. It will certainly inspire you to find out about your local park and cherish one of our greatest institutions.
A Walk In The Park, Travis Elborough – Vintage Publishing
WHAT LANGUAGES DO I DREAM IN? – ELENA LAPPIN
Writer, publisher and editor extraordinaire Elena Lappin has penned this new memoir that elegantly traces her life through the tapestry of countries she has lived in: Russia, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel, Canada and the United States. London is now her home but as a polyglot fluent in German, Russian, Czech, Hebrew and English, Elena makes a complicated discovery about her family history and the way languages have impacted her life and her understanding of the world. This inspirational and honest book is a gift to those who love languages.
What Languages Do I Dream In?, Elena Lappin – Little, Brown Book Group
Sharmaine Lovegrove is a fourth-generation Londoner. Her life has been dedicated to books and stories and now she runs page to screen consultancy Dialogue Scouting – finding books for film and TV adaptation. After six wonderful years in Berlin where she owned a boutique English-language bookshop, Sharmaine recently moved back to London with her journalist husband and their animal-loving 4 year-old son Jackson.