Deckchair perfection: summer 2015 holiday reads

20 July 2015

Small-town life, family strife and a serial-killer thriller - we've got holiday reads that will keep you glued to your sunlounger.

All Together Now

Gill Hornby

Hornby's bestselling debut, The Hive, introduced a writer with a needle-sharp eye for modern mores. In this equally assured second novel, she provides a full-length portrait of small-town Britain. Bridgeford has lost its heart and its civic pride – but The Bridgeford Community Choir has a shot at the county championship, if they find themselves some new voices. It's all about the joy of making music and helping people to find their own voices, and – the title couldn't be clearer – the bringing together of a fractured community. But it's also wonderfully (sometimes painfully) witty and terrifically observant. (Little, Brown, £14.99)

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The Long, Hot Summer

Kathleen MacMahon

There are family stories – and there are Irish family stories. At the centre of this one is Deirdre MacEntee, who is about to celebrate her 80th birthday with a gathering of her clan. Deirdre, who was once an actress, left home at the age of 17, and arrived in Dublin on the day after the Abbey Theatre burned down. She now has cataracts, and is face to face with her worst fear – of being just another old lady, ‘sitting in an ugly armchair in a triple-glazed sunroom’. MacMahon has effortless warmth. (Sphere, £19.99)

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Katarina Bivald

I didn't expect to be so utterly charmed by a Swedish novel set in a one-horse town in Iowa, but this is delightful and a must-read for everyone who loves books. Sara, aged 28, has spent her life reading and has never left Sweden, until she decides to visit her equally book-struck penfriend, Amy, who lives in the tiny town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. When Sara gets there, however, Amy is dead.  She’s alone with a library in the middle of nowhere. But she knows of the townspeople through Amy’s letters, and it’s not long before she’s learning that real lives can be even more compelling than the greatest fiction. (Chatto & Windus, £12.99)

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You Are Dead

Peter James

The title is rather a blunt instrument, but the fabulous Peter James is the kind of thriller-writer who drags you into his world almost against your will. This is the 11th outing for his detective, Roy Grace, who is on the trail of a serial killer. A young woman named Logan Somerville has disappeared from an underground car park, in the middle of a terrified phone call to her fiancé. Across town, workmen dig up the body of a young woman who has been dead for 30 years – and then the dead bodies, old and new, are positively raining down. James is the king of the pacey, ingenious plot and this is deckchair perfection. (Macmillan, £20)

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The Saffron Trail

Rosanna Ley

In the exotic heart of Marrakech, a group of Europeans are learning to cook authentic Moroccan food – and let me say now that Ley’s descriptions of the scents, spices and colours of that food are hauntingly delicious. Nell is a young woman who hopes to open her own restaurant. She bonds with Amy, a photographer who’s gathering material for a Moroccan event at her gallery in Lyme Regis. They’ve never met before, but their families turn out to be linked by history.  This is above all a story about overcoming the past and its losses, positively dripping with sensuality. Yum. (Quercus, £7.99)

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The House of Hidden Mothers

Meera Syal

Meera Syal is one of our most beloved actors and she’s shaping up to be a beloved popular novelist.  Her writing is funny, direct and very topical. In East London, 44-year-old Shyama has fallen in love with a younger man, and longs for a child. In a remote Indian village, meanwhile, a girl named Mala longs to escape from her horrible husband. So there’s an obvious deal to be made – isn't it now quite normal to rent another womb? Syal’s compelling novel touches on red-hot feminine issues that cry out to be discussed, preferably in a book group with plenty of wine.  (Doubleday, £14.99)

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