Here comes the sun: Cool books for the first hot days of summer

22 June 2017

An island paradise, a very 21st-century divorce and a homicidal Greek family are at the heart of these novels, chosen by Sue Price.

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

This funny, life-affirming novel about friendship and second chances is a wonderful companion for an afternoon in the garden. Kat writes to four old friends, inviting them to leave behind loneliness, dull jobs and marriages gone sour to join her on a cocoa plantation in the South Pacific. The Fijian setting is stunning, though the island's refreshing attitude to ageing and a life well-lived is the real eye-opener.

Available to buy online the Saga bookshop.


The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades

The author's grandmother was the inspiration for this meaty epic set in the Australian outback. It's 1945 and a drought-stricken, near-bankrupt sheep farm drafts in two Italian POWs to help with the work as all the able-bodied men have gone to war. Kate, the daughter of the house, is immediately drawn to one of them. This is a heart-breaking love story from a great new voice.

Available to buy online the Saga bookshop.


House of Names by Colm Toibin

Greek legend isn't the obvious choice for sunny-day reading, but this retelling of the murderous events following King Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter to win a battle is terrific. He brings modern sensibilities and language to an ancient classic to make it as gripping as any contemporary tale. Expect to see it on all the 2017 awards lists.

Available to buy online from the Saga bookshop.


The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

Quentin and Lottie can't afford to divorce and, having lost their jobs, are forced to move from their London townhouse to a mouldering Devon farmhouse. The sole compensation is the glorious landscape, but it hides something dark involving crime and vengeance. A hugely entertaining black comedy and psychological thriller rolled into one.

Available to buy online from the Saga bookshop.


The Ice by Laline Paull

The Bees was one of 2014's most talked-about debuts. Paull's follow-up is a hard-hitting political thriller, very different but just as compelling. A glacier expels a corpse into the sea sparking an inquest that uncovers a web of greed and betrayal. Alongside the drama runs a tribute to the beauty of the fast-disappearing Arctic. Tipped to be a big summer hit.

Available to buy online from the Saga bookshop.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Nothing is missing in Eleanor's solitary, carefully controlled life. Or so she thinks. It takes a crush on a rock star, an encounter with a deeply unhygienic IT guy and an act of kindness to make her realise that, to mend the damage of her catastrophic past, she must accept a little help from her friends. A humorous but intensely moving debut novel.

Available to buy online from the Saga Bookshop.


Non Fiction Choice

Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

Anyone reading his autobiography, Eddie claims, will 'look at my life and say, if that idiot transvestite can run a whole bunch of marathons, play the Hollywood Bowl, and travel across France with a French-speaking tour, then what's holding me back?' With great candour, Eddie tells his story from wanting to be a professional footballer and win the lead in Joseph, to making it in comedy.

Available to buy online from the Saga bookshop.


Little Dog, Big Heart

Finding Gobi Dion Leonard

While competing in a race across China's Gobi Desert in 2016, ultra-runner Dion stumbled across a tiny scarp of fur. It was a little dog he named Gobi. She ran with him for 80 miles and Dion vowed to bring her to the UK. But she disappeared and so began a search of such heart-wrenching drama, it is being made into a Hollywood film. Absolutely joyful.

Available to buy online from the Saga bookshop.


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