Twenty-five titles to pack this summer
From John le Carré’s latest to Rachael English’s debut, there’s something for everyone in our selection of books for the beach
By Alison Jameson
(Doubleday Ireland, £12.99)
It’s 1975, and Laura Quinn is desperate to leave the remote island off the west coast of Ireland where she grew up. Her parents are both dead, and her relationship with her lover, Martin, seems to be going nowhere. So she goes to an interview for a job as housekeeper for a prosperous couple living on the mainland, an encounter that will change her life forever. Finely crafted and featuring a brilliantly complicated heroine, Jameson’s heartbreaking third novel is a moving story about social mores and the power of parental love.
A Delicate Truth
By John le Carré
(Penguin Viking, £18.99)
It’s 50 years since John le Carré made his name with The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and he’s in vintage form in his 23rd novel. It’s a typically complex, humane and intelligent story of government cover-ups and military contractors, as a retired diplomat and a troubled civil servant search for the truth behind the botched capture of a jihadist arms dealer in Gibraltar.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
By Anton DiSclafani
(Tinder Press, £13.99)
It’s 1930, the Depression is starting to affect even the most privileged families, and 15-year-old Thea has left her Florida home for Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, in North Carolina. For plenty of horse-loving girls, spending a few months in the beautiful mountain camp would be heaven, but Thea, who desperately misses her pony and her beloved twin brother, Sam, feels like an exile. She’s been sent away from her parents in disgrace, for reasons that become clear by the end of this atmospheric debut novel.
By Matt Haig
Dr Andrew Martin is a Cambridge academic who has just made a mathematical breakthrough that could change the course of history. Unfortunately for him, this means he has to die. An assassin from the planet Vonnadoria has taken over Martin’s body and must now kill anyone he may have told about his achievement. The Vonnadorian is initially repulsed by life on Earth, but as he comes to know Martin’s family, their dog and the poetry of Emily Dickinson, he starts wondering whether humans are quite so hideous after all. Haig’s fifth novel for adult readers is funny, touching and wise.
The Society of Timid Souls
By Polly Morland
(Profile Books, £14.99)
What does it mean to be brave? That’s what the documentary-maker Polly Morland tries to find out in this wonderful book, inspired by a group of musicians in 1940s Manhattan who came together in order to tackle their stage fright. This original Society of Timid Souls believed that one could learn to be brave. Were they right? And what is courage anyway? Morland investigates the origins of our greatest fears and meets people who have behaved with courage, from a tightrope walker to a man who confronted a suicide bomber. The results are thought-provoking, insightful and fascinating.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
By Ayana Mathis
Over the first six or so decades of the 20th century, six million black Americans left the brutally segregated south for the comparative freedom of the north in what became known as the Great Migration. Mathis’s powerful debut novel tells the story of one of those families. In 1923, 15-year old Hattie Shepherd leaves Georgia for Philadelphia, where she starts a large family. Her 11 children and one grandchild are the 12 tribes of the title, and as Mathis tells their sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful stories she also paints a memorable portrait of Hattie, the matriarch who holds the family together.
The Last Banquet
By Jonathan Grimwood
Grimwood’s brilliantly evocative new book reads like a cross between Patrick Süskind and Angela Carter. Set in the 18th century, it’s the story of Jean-Marie d’Aumont, an orphan with a powerful appetite who was born into an impoverished noble family. When we meet him, he’s eating dung beetles, but he’ll go on to concoct imaginative recipes for everything from dogs to tiger flesh. (Most things, he discovers, taste like chicken or beef.) But as Jean-Marie’s fortunes improve, so does social tension both at home and in America, and he comes to realise that “history will happen. It cannot be denied”.
By Dawn O’Porter
(Hot Key Books, £7.99)
The journalist and television presenter Dawn O’Porter’s debut novel is the story of two 15-year-old girls in 1990s Guernsey. Shy Flo struggles with a bitchy “best friend” and a distant mother, while sexually adventurous Renee struggles to deal with the death of her mother. O’Porter perfectly captures the sometimes ludicrous complexities of adolescence, and everyone should relate to this heartbreakingly funny depiction of friendship and loss.
By Eoin Colfer
The award-winning Colfer returns to adult fiction with another pleasingly hard-boiled novel about Daniel McEvoy, the down-on-his-luck hero of his earlier novel Plugged. In his first outing, McEvoy, a soldier turned bouncer in a grotty New Jersey pub, turned detective. Now he has moved up in the world, but he finds himself the target of some very dangerous men.