Favorite summer reads? Part 2
Last week I wrote about summer reading in general, those distant memories of long summer holidays and stacks of good books I’d devour as a child.
Seems that, despite work, and family obligations, and-ahem-the tiny amount of time I (should) eke out for writing, some things simply don’t change. I still love summer reading, and I still devour books at a record pace throughout the summer months – but especially during holidays.
I wanted to write about some of my favorite summer reads so far this year. A few months ago, I posted on progress on #ReadWomen2014. Perhaps surprisingly (or not), when I reviewed my favorite reads of the last few months, I realized I have more favorites among talented female authors than male authors.
What can I say? I’m biased.
Here, readers, are some of my picks from the books I’ve been reading this summer:
Before We Met
This is Whitehouse’s third book, and the third book of hers I’ve read. It kept me turning the pages frenetically. Thanks to my concentration on the ending while in the Rome airport, I almost lost my plane to Switzerland. Thanks, Lucie, for causing me to be chewed out by the Alitalia attendant. : )
My only complaint of earlier Whitehouse novels is that the protagonists may have been a bit cold and inaccessible. While Hannah is not warm, I feel we do get to know her quite well, and I loved the set-up of her life with Mark. I felt fully invested in the story, and could understand how she abandoned her independent life in New York, her careeer and friends to build a life with her successful London husband.
But things go wrong when her husband does not return from a business trip from New York, and she begins realizing how little she knows about him. This is a marriage thriller – ever so popular now- that delves far deeper than your average thriller. I loved the slow build-up, and was fully invested in the train wreck I knew awaited me as the story unfolded.
Picked up this book on a whim, for its cover in the bookstore and the fact that it was set in Boston – my birthplace- seen through the eyes of an Irishwoman.
This is English’s first novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Elizabeth, our young protagonist, sets off for a summer working in Boston after her university exams. Life is all on course for her back in Ireland, with her teaching career set out for her and a responsible, decent young boyfriend waiting for her back home.
She never expects to find true love with a young American man in Boston. Yet she does. And her resolute, timid self is changed by her experiences in her New England city. Years later, when her own daughter travels to Boston to live and work, she must come to terms with a past she’d tried to bury, and a love she was too young to appreciate at the time.
An enjoyable beach read, I loved seeing Boston through this Irish author’s eyes, and I’ll look forward to future works.
Speaking about talented Irish women authors, Tana French is one of my favorites. This is her fourth book of the Dublin Murder Squad series (I devoured the first three).
French once again caused me to lose sleep with this book. In general, I don’t even like police crime stories, but French is so masterful at delving down into the complex layers of her characters, that I’m fully invested in her investigators.
The detective in this novel, ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy, was a minor character in her third book of the series, one I hadn’t considered too closely. In Broken Harbour, we learn about his complex family background, while he investigates the brutal murder of a family living in a deserted housing estate that was the victim of the Irish financial crisis. The description of their lonely lives kept me turning the pages, a young family moving out to a hopeful estate under construction, until the construction company picks up and goes, leaving abandoned skeletons of buildings, bulldozers, and an empty community where no one will ever want to live. A thoughtful mystery set against the backdrop of post-Celtic tiger Ireland.
French keeps getting better and better in each novel. This was my favorite so far.
So, readers, any more tips for me? Looking forward to more summer favorites…
Happy summer reading!
I love Tana French too. And not because of her last name! Thanks, Kimberly, for supporting women writers. I follow your trend and meet great new names. More to come on my blog.
Thanks, Evelyne. So glad you’re supporting #Readwomen2014, too, and look forward to reading your future post on this. Yes, isn’t French wonderful? I love how she brings characters – even remarkably unlikeable characters- to life.