Summer is almost upon us (wasn't it supposed to be here already?) and that means sunshine (ahem), holidays, some R&R and for me, a pile of good books. I asked my rather brilliant friend Charlotte Heathcote (Books Editor, Express & Daily Mirror) to compile a list of her recommendations and she very kindly agreed. I thought I'd share, as there are some crackers on here. Happy reading x
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE BY TAYARI JONES
Celestial and her new husband Roy are torn apart when Roy is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Devastated Celestial finds herself seeking solace from their friend Andre.
After five long years, Roy’s conviction is overturned and he is freed at last. He expects to pick up life where he left off. But has justice been served too late to save their marriage?
This powerful, moving tale explores injustice, loyalty and love.
THE DOLL FACTORY BY ELIZABETH MACNEAL
Iris is a working-class girl who, along with her twin Rose, makes a living painting faces on china dolls. But she longs to forge a career as an artist. Despite a disfigured collarbone that makes one shoulder hunch, Iris becomes a muse to a bohemian pre-Raphaelite artist on the condition that he will teach her to paint.
However she also becomes the focus of a sinister taxidermist whose obsession grows to dark and dangerous proportions.
Set against the backdrop of the Victorian Great Exhibition of 1850, this well-researched debut tells a compelling, tense and unsettling story of ambition and obsession.
DAISY JONES AND THE SIX BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
This fabulously entertaining tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in 1970s America was inspired by the fascinating romantic entanglements of Fleetwood Mac.
Fragile Daisy becomes frontwoman of up-and-coming band The Six and the on-stage chemistry between her and frontman Billy is electric. But off-stage, tension prevails as Billy resents her songwriting input, even as the band goes from strength to strength.
Former addict and alcoholic Billy has cleaned up his act after a stint in rehab and is determined to stay clean on tour for the sake of his wife and children back home. But Daisy is dependent on a cocktail of drugs. And as Daisy Jones And The Six become one of the biggest bands in America, the tension between its two biggest stars builds to breaking point.
The story is told in the form of interviews with the band members that take place decades after the events unfolded and it’s all of your favourite rock gossip stories in novel form. You won’t be able to put this unforgettable, engrossing novel down.
THE GIRL BEFORE BY JP DELANEY
As house prices spiral in London, Jane views a series of grotty flats before her estate agent suggests she view One Folgate Street. It was designed by “techno minimalist” architect Edward Monkford and is operated by a sophisticated app. The immaculate all-white house comes with “about two hundred stipulations” but it looks spectacular and Jane is thrilled when Edward accepts her application to live there.
However she then discovers that the previous tenant, Emma, died there. And as she falls for Edward, she discovers that Emma had a relationship with him too. And Emma’s ex insists that the controlling Monkton murdered her.
Jane determines to establish Edward’s innocence. But she discovers there’s an awful lot more to One Folgate Street than meets the eye and she’s putting her own life on the line. A chilling premise and an addictive read.
IN AT THE DEEP END BY KATE DAVIES
This explicit and uproariously funny debut novel is not for the fainthearted. After yet another dismal boyfriend bites the dust, Julia goes to a warehouse party where she finds herself attracted to a woman. She decides it’s time to “lick the snail” and she goes to bed with her. What has she got to lose?
She is, she quickly discovers, most definitely gay. And what follows is her startling voyage of discovery into the world of lesbian sex. From drag king shows and sex clubs to threesomes and a <lot> of fisting, Julia’s on a very steep but thrilling learning curve, until she discovers that romance with a woman can be just as painful as it is with a man.
ANOTHER PLANET: A Teenager In Suburbia BY TRACEY THORN
Everything But The Girl musician Tracey Thorn follows her acclaimed autobiography Bedsit Disco Queen with a nostalgic and perceptive memoir reflecting on her formative years in suburban Brookmans Park in Hertfordshire.
It was a place she couldn’t wait to escape but a place that also became part of her DNA: “I feel terribly at home here, and terribly out of place.”
She brilliantly evokes Britain in the 70s and 80s and reflects on her punk-inspired teenage rebellion which drove a damaging wedge between her and her bemused and entirely conventional parents.
Hope you enjoyed the reviews and maybe you have found a few titles to add to your summer reading list.
Go follow Charlotte on instagram ... @charlotte_heathcote_ for more literary inspiration x
I've added shopping links into the book images for ease. Of course, these titles are available from many retailers including your high street bookstore and local library.
Thanks for reading,