Have you got a holiday planned this year? Summer is on our doorstep and there’s hardly a better opportunity to spend some quality time leafing through some books while the sun shines around you. So, to prepare you for your well-deserved time off, we’ve carefully selected books from 13 authors and also what their idea of a perfect holiday is. Can you relate to any of them?
1 – Beneath the Surface, Heidi Perks
A gripping story of family secrets; when teenager Abi comes home from school one day, she discovers that her family has disappeared and the house has been left empty. Years on, it’s time to find out what really happened.
“When I’m on holiday I love finding a book that pulls me into its pages – one I don’t want to put down and can’t wait to get back to. My perfect holiday read would be anything by my favourite author Liane Moriarty as she manages to combine all the magical ingredients – fabulous characters, twisty plots and humour too.”
2 – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Joanna Cannon
When Mrs Creasy goes missing without a trace, the town is filled with whispers and hearsay. Nobody knows what’s happened to her, but two 10 year old neighbours, Grace and Tilly, are about to do some investigating themselves.
“I think my perfect holiday would be somewhere I could always see the horizon, somewhere I could find a culture beyond the margins of my own, and where the wildlife, landscape and scenery I experienced would stay with me forever.”
3 – Words in My Hand, Guinevere Glasfurd
The story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th century Amsterdam, is told intricately and beautifully. She holds a love for literacy and yearns to write but her position within society will not allow her to do so; until she meets René Descartes.
“If I could roll up the Norfolk coast, add in the Welsh valleys and a goodly portion of Amsterdam then I’d be some way towards creating my perfect holiday. I love doing things on holiday — visiting museums and art galleries — but holiday time is also reading time, so I need somewhere quiet to relax too. I love Amsterdam out of season, and lesser known Dutch towns such as Amersfoort, which is a gem.”
4 – Firsts, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
17 year old Mercedes has an interesting relationship with sex. She looks for one thing in a partner – he has to be a virgin. She lets the boys get their first times out of the way so they can give their girlfriends the perfect first time. But when her reputation is under fire, she wonders if she’d made the right choices.
“What would be a perfect holiday?’ I love sun, sand, and losing track of time. Plunk me down on a beach with a good book, a fruity drink, and a wide-brimmed sun hat, and I’ll be in my own version of paradise! There’s nothing better than swims in the ocean, naps in the shade, and the smell of suntan lotion lingering on your skin. That spells a perfect holiday for me!”
5 – Under a Cornish Sky, Liz Fenwick
When two women’s circumstances suddenly change, they’re brought together at the beautiful Boscawen estate in Cornwall and their lives take an interesting, and unexpected, turn.
“Answering my favourite holiday is always tough almost as hard as choosing my favourite book…but I’d have to say if it’s not Cornwall then Italy with my family for some poolside relaxation, great food, fabulous wine and culture to explore.”
6 – The Square Root of Summer, Harriet Reuter Hapgood
A tale of love, passion and grief; Gottie’s life is a whirlwind of emotion. After the passing of her grandfather, two significant people make an unexpected appearance – her old best friend, Thomas, and her old flame, Jason – and she suddenly has the delicate subject of romance weighing on her heart.
“Right now my perfect holiday could be Northern California, Mexico, the French Riviera or the Italian countryside – anywhere so long as it’s in a gorgeously Instagrammable pink Art Deco bungalow or crumbling medieval chateau, self-catering (but with staff on hand to wash up), with nothing to do but long walks, sunshiney picnics, wild swimming and sampling of the local booze.”
7 – Wicked Game, Matt Johnson
Long-listed for the 2016 CWA Creasy Dagger. Robert Finlay is a cop with a secret. A secret hidden from not just his family, but from everybody. But secrets are like seeds. Eventually they send up shoots, surface, and give themselves away. And so begins a game of cat and mouse, a wicked game, where Finlay’s family, his friends, indeed his very existence is under threat from a determined and unidentified enemy.
“Some of my favourite trips have included the Rocky Mountains in Canada, the rift valley of Kenya and the Garden route of South Africa. For me, to tick the boxes of a great holiday, I seek out adventure, great scenery, good company and the opportunity to fit in a day or two scuba diving. Add a good book for the quiet moments and you have my perfect vacation.”
8 – Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll
Ani has the perfect life; a glamorous job, a handsome fiancé and an affluent lifestyle. But her past isn’t so perfect…
“My perfect holiday would be waking up somewhere warm and cosy, like a ski lodge in December. Coffee in bed and a long day of lazing around before the fire reading a good book. Lots of red wine at dinner.”
9 – The Girl from Lace Island, Joanna Rees
A beautiful, exotic island steeped in charm; it certainly seems like paradise. But when a fire breaks out in one of its luxury hotels, all is gone but a visitors’ book, which tells stories of blackmail and murder. Lace Island isn’t all it’s made out to be.
“For starters, there has to be sunshine and blue sky, but shade too – preferably under some kind of flower-covered trellis. From this vantage point, there has to be a splendid view which includes somewhere that the kids are playing happily and safely whilst I indulge in my favourite holiday pass-time: the long lunch with friends. There has to be plenty of wine in a giant glass clanking with ice-cubes, gorgeous food and music. Ideally, this is followed by a snooze in a hammock after a couple of chapters of a fabulous novel and then some pool shenanigans with the kids. For me, laughter, sunshine and lunch always make for the perfect holiday.”
10 – Katherine Of Aragon, The True Queen, Alison Weir
The lives of Henry VIII’s wives are told in a series of fascinating stories that unveil the events that really happened.
“My perfect holiday would be spent soaking up the glories of the Dordogne – luscious scenery, spectacularly sited hill-top villages drowsing in the sun, millennia of history, ancient castles and fabulous food. It draws me back again and again, that mighty river wending its tranquil course through this magnificent region. For choice, I would stay at the Chateau of Monrecour near Beynac, a magnificent hotel with beautiful rooms, wonderful views, a peaceful terrace and a pool. Nearby in historic, scenic Beynac we would enjoy taking a Gabarre trip on the river, and pass the evenings eating outdoors at La Petite Tonnelle, a superb little restaurant of old mellowed stone with great atmosphere. One of my favourite places to visit is Domme, a medieval bastide town perched so high on a cliff overlooking the Dordogne that you can see the bends in the river as it flows far beneath. We always have lunch in the Belvedere, which overlooks this view. There is something magical and timeless about the Dordogne. Every time I visit my creative juices start flowing.”
11 – A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding, Jackie Copleton
When a mother loses her daughter and grandson in the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945, she places the blame on one man. This heart-wrenching story tells of a grief-stricken woman who has to delve deep into her troubled past to find peace.
“I’m going to have to be greedy and choose four perfect holidays. In winter I’d be sitting by a roaring fire in a cottage in the Scottish Highlands. In spring, I’d head to Japan to watch the cherry blossoms come to life. In summer, I’d be swimming in a rocky bay in Majorca and in autumn I’d head to New York for a walk through Central Park. But one thing wouldn’t change: my suitcase would be stuffed with books. Holidays give me the luxury of time and I love to fill those days by losing myself in other worlds conjured up by words on the page. I always feel so lucky if I find myself reading a new book in either a much-loved or new destination. Both are forms of escape and exploration. Joy!”
12 – The Improbability of Love, Hannah Rothschild
Browsing through a second-hand shop leads Annie to an interesting painting, which she had no idea was so precious until many art enthusiasts wanted to get their hands on it. Created by 18th century French painter, Antoine Watteau, it’s somewhat of a masterpiece. Annie begins the journey of finding the right owner and the painting’s true identity, uncovering a multitude of secrets along the way.
“Perfect holiday is with my three daughters on the Island of Corfu. I’ve been going there since I was a child and have loved showing them all the secret coves, wild flowers and olive groves which I used to and still love.”
13 – When I was Invisible, Dororthy Koomson
When two 8 year old girls meet for the first time, their love for ballet makes them think they’ll be best friends forever. As time passes, life leads them down separate, and very different, paths, stopping them from living the lives they assumed was meant to be. When they’re reunited 20 years later, they question the cards they were dealt, wondering if these are the lives they were destined to live.
My perfect holiday would be one where I wouldn’t have to do any cooking or cleaning, but everything would be magically done for me. I live very near the beach in Brighton, which I think is darn near perfect, so it’d also have to be somewhere hot, with sandy beaches, lots of culturally interesting places to visit, and friendly people who wouldn’t mind me asking inane questions. I’d love to visit the Bahamas again, where I had an amazing diving holiday a few years ago. Or maybe Even Yokohama in Japan, where we did actually get to the sea side but it was November and we were freezing so didn’t stay long. It’d be brilliant to revisit there, I think. Or, failing that, have someone come to stay who would do all the cooking and cleaning while I chill out in a beach hut on Brighton beach!”
We hope you enjoyed our book choices as well as the little snippets of insights from our authors, which ones are you thinking of taking with you on holiday?