Summer means a lot of things: flip flop tan lines, sand everywhere, dining al fresco. It also means digging into juicy beach books. Every year I happily bite off more than I can chew and this summer is no different. On the bright side this turns fall into the finish-the-beach-books-I-didn't-get-to-yet season.
Here is my overly ambitious list for beach blanket escapism: Enjoy and don't forget the sunblock!
Recommended by my local indie bookstore, this is a riveting story about a complex and unlikely male friendship, betrayal and class conflict.
While at Harvard in 1962, two men form an unlikely friendship, one privileged and ambivalent, the other driven and ambitious. When their friendship abruptly ends, only one of them knows why. The story spans the globe---blue blood New England to Africa to China--and takes place over five tumultuous decades.
Fellows, the brains behind Downton Abbey as well as the Oscar winning screenwriter of Gosford Park brings us back to swinging London during the 1960s. This novel explores, in retrospect, the relationship between two aging "frenemies" who haven't communicated since a scandalous falling out 40 years earlier. Fellows delivers, in his acerbic yet poignant style, a look at the complexities of London society during a fast-changing and turbulent period in time.
Summer needs its mystery thrillers and this one jumped off the shelf into my arms. The first of the Detective Maeve Kerrigan thrillers, this creepy story is about a serial killer leaving bodies in the secluded areas of London Parks. A tense story with a great backdrop.
A modern and tragic love story about two people who couldn't have less in common: a naive small town girl and a disgruntled, broken ex-tycoon. They kind of save each other. Expect tears.
Drew Silver is a past-his-prime, one-hit-wonder rock star who just found out he needs emergency heart surgery in order to live. He decides to forgo the procedure and instead work on the relationships he spent a lifetime destroying, especially with his soon-to-be-married and secretly pregnant daughter. Funny, witty and heartbreaking all at once
"L'attimo che dura per sempre"--a moment that lasts forever.
Lauded by critics and readers, this novel weaves a tale that travels from 1960's Cinque Terre to Edinburgh to modern day Hollywood and back again. This sweeping, roller coaster of a story is about love, love lost and the beauty of clinging to your dreams no matter what. I'm also a sucker for great cover art.
Margaret Fuller is a large, fascinating, albeit little known, part of New England cultural history. Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Fuller was writer, editor and early feminist. She worked for Ralph Waldo Emerson in Boston, was Henry David Throreau's first editor and the first female war correspondent EVER. Her time in New York as a front-page columnist for the New York Tribune in the 1840's made her an early vocal and passionate advocate for the plight of the urban poor and women. She spoke out in support of the Emancipation Proclamationon, on behalf of prostitutes and fought for a woman's right to receive an education and ultimately have a career. She tragically died in a shipwreck at the age of 40 off the cost of Fire Island. Her Italian lover and their small child died as well.
Lizz Winstead's poignant and human take on her life--from her conservative, midwest upbringing to her groundbreaking years as a female comic is laugh and cry out loud funny. A head writer for the Daily Show in its formative years and stand up comedian, Winstead's take on life that is somehow both relatable and outrageous.
I imagine it would have been quite an experience to spend just one summer with Zelda and F. Scott Fitzergerald. From San Tropez to New York to the Hampton's, Zelda and her husband lived quite the life...before, well, crashing and burning. I've written about my fascination with the 1920's and the Jazz Age before and I can't wait to dig in to the celebrated, yet ultimately tragic life of legendary this famous literary spouse.
Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and the follow up, Bring Up the Bodies, are the perfect one-two punch to toss in the beach bag and devour on vacation. This is no snoozy history lesson---Mantel's retelling of the volatile reign of Henry VIII through the eyes of his trusted and scandalously powerful advisor, Thomas Cromwell is a page turner. We're talking sex, betrayal, political intrigue and yes, beheadings.