It's that time of the year when we're all beginning to think about our summer holidays. (While the rain beats down the windows behind my desk...) I usually leave the book buying to the last minute, but this time, since I'm now a professional bookseller, I thought I'd get a head start.
The first novel on my list is set in LA. The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who travels from London to Venice Beach to attend her mother's funeral. Amongst her late mother's possessions she finds a suitcase full of love letters and photographs of the men her mother had known. She decides to return each letter to its sender. It sounds like a brilliant read - just what's needed on a beach holiday!
Stop press: Anna Stothard is coming to talk about this book at England's Lane Books on 14 June. Details of the event can be found here.
Next on my list is a novel by Tim Pears. I saw Pears, to me previously unknown writer, read from his book, Landed, at Shoreditch Literary Salon last week. Landed is a story of a man's life, narrated by him in some point in the future. It's an interesting method to use; while the story unravels in the 1980's the future world of the narrator is unknown to us. The bit that Tim read to us at Shoreditch Salon was also very funny so I'm really looking forward to getting to know this writer's work.
A book I'd saved for my holiday but couldn't resist starting is Lucky Break by Esther Freud. This is a sad and funny book which follows a group of young actors through drama school and onto their first successes and failures. Esther started out as an actress herself, so the book has an authentic feel. I'm really enjoying it so far.
Gerard Woodward has long been a favourite writer of mine. His brilliant Booker listed novel, I'll Go to Bed at Noon, was funny and disturbing portrait of a family coping with alcohol abuse. So I am really looking forward to reading his latest book to come out in paperback, Nourishment. This is an imaginative wartime tale of a woman whose children are evacuated, her husband is a prisoner of war and she's forced to live with her irascible mother while - to help the war effort - working at a London gelatine factory. When she receives a letter from Donald asking for a dirty letter, by return post, she's aghast but out a marital duty and with the help of book shops, libraries and public conveniences, decides to master the language of carnal desire. Again, I cannot wait to read this book!
Last but not least I am going to recommend a book of novellas by an old master, Stefan Zweig, an author who took his own life in 1942 at the age of 61, cutting his writing career tragically short. A couple of years ago for the Babington Book club I chose his novel The Post Office Girl, published post-humously, and fell in love with his writing. This collection of Selected Stories includes his most powerful novellas. It's the perfect book to have handy for a long journey, when you can dip in and out of Zweig's captivating world.
I hope you like my recommendations and tell me what you think. Happy reading!