30 great summer reads
HOLIDAY READING: Ferrying to France? Lolling in Lanzarote? Kicking back in Kerry? Wherever you’re heading for a break, ANNA CAREYrecommends books to take with you
By John Banville
Viking Penguin, £16.99
“Billy Gray was my best friend and I fell in love with his mother.” John Banville’s new novel grabs the reader with its opening line. It’s the story of an ageing actor called Alexander Cleave, who looks back on his illicit teenage affair with a woman he still calls Mrs Gray. But Cleave is haunted by memories not only of his youth in a small Irish town in the 1950s but also of his daughter, who died by suicide. (Arminta Wallace interviews John Banville on page 7.)
The Baroness: The Search for Nina, the Rebellious Rothschild
By Hannah Rothschild
Growing up, Hannah Rothschild was intrigued by stories of her mysterious Aunt Pannonica, known as Nica. Nica left her ultraprivileged life in Europe for the clubs of New York when she became entranced by the music of the jazz legend Thelonious Monk, who became her soulmate. Rothschild’s account of her aunt’s extraordinary life is utterly fascinating.
Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
When Lou loses her job as a waitress and takes a job as carer-cum-companion to a quadriplegic young man, she doesn’t know what to expect. Her new employer, Will Traynor, is surly and uncooperative. But gradually Will and Lou start to expand each other’s horizons. So when she discovers he’s had enough of his life she is convinced she can change his mind. Written with warmth and wit, this superior weepie will have you sobbing on your sunlounger.
By Michael Clifford
Hachette Books Ireland, £13.99
This debut novel by the well-known journalist is a fast-paced thriller about two sorts of criminal: those who carry out their crimes with guns and those who prefer to do it all on paper. Well-meaning ex-con Joshua Molloy enlists the help of a solicitor, Noelle Diggins, to find his missing son, and both are soon enmeshed in a dangerous world of crime, greed and violence.
By Sarra Manning
This smart, snarky and sweet slice of young-adult fiction is perfect holiday reading for teens. It’s the story of Jeane, a blogging teenage wunderkind who has turned her outsider status into a global brand. She’s an eccentric dresser with a sharp tongue – and she has nothing in common with school golden boy Michael Lee, who’s sporty, academically gifted and adored by all. So why can’t they stop snogging? Told by both Jeane and Michael, Adorkable is a witty romance with a wonderfully flawed – and feminist – heroine.
By John Lanchester
Faber and Faber, £12.99
In his nonfiction bestseller Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, John Lanchester made the financial meltdown comprehensible to nonexperts. Now he has returned to fiction, with this Dickensian look at the residents of a London street as the financial bubble bursts. From rich bankers to the struggling immigrants who put parking tickets on their cars, all human life is in this epic story.
By Chris Cleave
If you’ve read Chris Cleave’s earlier novels you’ll know how well he wraps searing social commentary in a gripping and engaging narrative. In Gold he focuses his insightful gaze on the world of Olympic-level speed cycling. Gold tells the stories of cyclists Zoe and Kate, friends and rivals. In their struggle to balance their difficult personal and professional lives, he shows the cost of sporting greatness. It’s the perfect counterpoint to all the Olympic mania – but it’s one for sport fans too.
By Charlotte Rogan
After an explosion on a transatlantic liner in 1914, newly-wed Grace Winter is bundled into a crowded lifeboat. A few weeks later she’s on trial for a murder supposedly committed on the boat. From a Boston jail, Grace tells the story not just of her horrific time on the boat but also of the life that led her there. Charlotte Rogan’s debut novel is as gripping as a thriller. Just don’t read it on a cruise.
By Liz Moore
Arthur Opp is a massively overweight former academic who hasn’t left his Brooklyn home in years. Kel Keller is a high-school student with a talent for baseball. The two very different narrators of Moore’s stunning novel are linked by Kel’s troubled mother, Charlene, Arthur’s former student. As Arthur and Kel start to forge connections with those around them, readers of this exquisitely written and deeply moving book will long for them to find each other. If you plan to read Heft on a plane or by the pool, be warned: it’s a tear jerker.
By Danny Wallace
The broadcaster and journalist Danny Wallace’s debut novel is a romantic comedy aimed, unusually, at both men and women. It’s the story of Jason Priestley (no, not that one), who, after helping a woman into a cab, finds himself holding her disposable camera. Urged on by his hapless best friend, Dev, he gets the photos developed – and a quest ensues. The story of Jason’s search for the mystery girl is funny, charming and very readable.