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Summer reading

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Find a shady spot and settle down with a good book - here are some suggestions for starters

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
A debut novel much praised for its portrayal of loneliness and the innate goodness of mankind. Eleanor Oliphant leads a seemingly humdrum existence – goes to work and goes home. But at weekends her time alone consists of food and gin – and lots of it. Through the kindness of the rather uncouth Ray, we start to see the real Eleanor and the way in which her life has been formed by traumatic events.

At times laugh-out-loud funny, while also tragic, this is an interesting exploration of how we cope in the face of adversity and how, by taking small steps, we can enjoy life again.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Beryl Markham was a pioneering aviatrix, whose extraordinary early life is chronicled in Paula McLain’s tightly-written and beautifully-imagined book.

Always inviting scandal, Markham’s early life in Kenya, from her wild childhood to her doomed marriage, aged just 16, and her subsequent affairs, as well as her prowess as a female horse trainer and then pilot, are all vividly brought to life.

The ex-pat colonial set move in and out of her life and her extraordinary tenacity and strength of will shines through every page of this absorbing account of a free spirit, ahead of her time.

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe
We are introduced to a group of characters travelling from Manchester to London, including the family heading to a wedding, the single man going for an interview, the group of businesswomen and the young Asian suicide bomber clutching his backpack. The second half deals with the aftermath of the explosion.

Slow to get going and filled with some clichéd characters, it is worth sticking with this book. The description of the explosion feels realistic and the author’s choice of who lives and who dies is brutal.

The second half, although a little rushed, deals with how the surviving characters cope and even more interestingly the impact on the English Muslim middle-class family of the bomber, who had no idea what was coming. Topical and compelling.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham
John Grisham writes perfect ‘holiday read’ material and this is no exception. Three students at a second-rate law school realise they will never pay off their huge debts and that a ruthless businessman is scamming them and thousands like them.
Their revenge is played out with consummate storytellling and you’re never quite sure who has the upper hand until you turn the final page.

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