Summer holidays have arrived and with them prime reading opportunities. I have five books for you this month, four fiction and one non. Before She Knew Him is the easy-read fiction novel. Ideal to pick up at the airport. The Light Between Oceans is a heart-rending read, and a must-read for fans of historical fiction. Riders is scandalous and addictive… 900 pages of irresistible entertainment. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo offers a glimpse behind Hollywood stardom and brings the reader on an emotional roller-coaster. And this month’s only non-fiction book, The Shoemaker and his Daughter is a story of how historic events impacts ordinary life in Soviet Russia. A good one for history buffs.
Keep scrolling for the full low down on my July Reading List. As usual, if you have any recommendations, please send them my way. OR if you’ve read any of these books, I would love to know what you thought.
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
I was lying in bed one Saturday morning with a non-fiction book waiting me, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted a thriller. Something unsettling and gripping that I would read from start to finish over the weekend. Cue a quick Instagram scroll and I saw Chloe of @nursefancypants had just read Peter Swanson’s new book and decision made. I had read The Kind Worth Killing last year but hadn’t realised it was by the same author and I really enjoyed it.
Hen and Lloyd move into a new home in suburban Massachusetts. Hen has found the right mix of meds to control her bipolar disorder and things are going well. Very quickly they meet their next-door neighbours Matthew and Mira Dolamore and end up with a dinner invitation to their home. A pretty uneventful dinner ends with Hen suspecting her neighbour Matthew of having committed murder. From there the story unfolds.
I read this book from start to finish over a weekend and really enjoyed it. Before you dive in ask yourself if you want a thriller, something fast paced with a psychologic twist? It’s not ground-breaking but the plot is somewhat believable, and the revelations aren’t beyond possibility. An entertaining read.
The Light Between Oceans by ML Steadman
Thank you so much to my friend Ciara for sending me this book. My Mam had been telling me about a film she watched and loved. I obviously wasn’t listening very well as a few days later I started telling her about this book and how much I loved it. She was like… that’s the film I was telling you about.
The Light Between Oceans is set in Australia in the 1920s. Thomas Sherbourne returns from the First World War in Europe a hero and enlists in the Lighthouse Service. Posted to remote Janus Rock off the coast of Western Australia, he meets and marries Isabel Greysmark who is from the nearest town on the mainland. Thomas and Isabel long for a child and after tragedy strikes three times all hope seems to be lost. Until… What unfolds is a story of human joy and tragedy. A story of right and wrong. It’s gripping and unforgettable. The writing is both tender and empathetic and I had so many feels for pretty much all the characters. I think my favourite books are literary fiction set against a historic backdrop and this is an excellent example. A definite recommendation… just prepare yourself for a heart-rending read.
Riders by Jilly Cooper
What can I say? Prepare yourself for 900 pages of pure irresistible entertainment. Set in the Cotswolds, Riders brings the reader into the world of international show jumping and all that goes with it, which according to Jilly Cooper is romance, sex, adultery, betrayal, rivalry, high jinks and adventure.
This is my first Jilly Cooper book and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last. Follow under-dog Jake Lovell, dashing Rupert Campbell-Black and the young Fenella Maxwell around the European show jumping circuit and finally to the 1980 Olympics in Los Angeles. Of course, Riders is as much about the action taking place outside of the ring as it is about show jumping.
If you can accept a great deal of misogyny, adultery, betrayal and the objectifying of women for 900 pages, you may well find this a most entertaining read. The writing is flawless and I couldn’t put it down. #SWOON!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another recommendation from Chloe of @nursefancypants. Evelyn Hugo is a fictional Hollywood starlet who commissions a relatively unknown journalist to write her memoirs and to tell the real story behind her acting career and seven marriages.
Her story is one of secrets, lies, great love and friendships, loneliness and abuse. I really enjoyed this book and while I found it a little slow to get started, it soon became unputdownable (is that a word?). It contains all the elements required for a good holiday read. Glamour, wealth, deceit, love, heartbreak and an intriguing twist at the end. Get your hands on this book and prepare yourself for an emotional roller-coaster of a read.
The Shoemaker & His Daughter by Conor O’Clery
This is the story of shoemaker Stanislav Suvorov and his family as told by journalist Conor O’Clery who is married to Stanislav’s daughter Zhanna. It covers eighty years of Soviet/Russian history from Stalin, through subsequent leaders, the fall of communism, the rise of capitalism, the Chechan war and the emergence of Putin.
I love history and especially European and Russian history, so I was always going to enjoy this read. So often historic events are told through the perspective of key figures and how these events impacted the lives of ordinary citizens is ignored.
This is a story of ordinary people, living through historic times and gives a powerful insight into what everyday life in the Soviet Union and later Russia was like over the past eight years. A beautiful read and highly recommended for any history fans out there.