Whether you are jetting off to somewhere exotic or enjoying a staycation this summer there are lots of lovely books to take you on adventures around the World. Here are my top ten books to travel with this summer. I’ve listed them in release date order and highlighted the locations so you can easily decide where to visit next!
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop (Cyprus) Out now from Headline
I really enjoyed this excellent new novel from Victoria Hislop and it’s my favourite of her books since The Island. Victoria expertly mixes love, ambition and family drama against a backdrop of violence and unrest based on true events – the result is a novel that you won’t forget!
In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.
When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.
The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George (Paris and Provence, France) Out now from Abacus
This is a must read for book lovers – a beautiful novel that examines the power of books and reading to change lives. I loved Jean Perdu’s ‘literary apothecary’ and wished I could pay it a visit! With a quirky cast and a love story with a difference, this is an excellent book to escape with this summer.
On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.
The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
Summertime by Vanessa La Faye (Florida, USA) Out now from Orion
A gripping historical fiction debut that swept me up from the first pages and didn’t let go. No surprise that this novel is one of Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club picks. Read my interview with Vanessa to find out more!
In the small town of Heron Key, where the relationships are as tangled as the mangrove roots in the swamp, everyone is preparing for the 4th of July barbecue, unaware that their world is about to change for ever. Missy, maid to the Kincaid family, feels she has wasted her life pining for Henry, who went to fight on the battlefields of France. Now he has returned with a group of other desperate, destitute veterans, unsure of his future, ashamed of his past.
When a white woman is found beaten nearly to death, suspicion falls on Henry. As the tensions rise, the barometer starts to plummet. But nothing can prepare them for what is coming. For far out over the Atlantic, the greatest storm ever to strike North America is heading their way…
The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by now from Hutchinson (Umbria, Italy) Out
I was constantly hungry whilst reading this lovely book – it is packed full of mouthwatering descriptions of food and also includes wonderful recipes. This is a true story and I enjoyed getting to know each of the women as they cooked and ate and discussed their lives. With beautiful descriptions of both food and scenery, I really did feel transported to Italy as I read.
Pull up a chair for the true story of the Umbrian Thursday night supper club.
Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There – along with their friend, Marlena – they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.
Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them – the good and the bad.
The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein (Norway) Out now from Bloomsbury)
A quirky and very enjoyable fiction debut from Rebecca Dinerstein. As well as being beautifully described, this novel is a captivating look at the nature of families and love.
Shortly after her college graduation, Frances flees a painful breakup and her claustrophobic childhood home in Manhattan, which has become more airless in the aftermath of two family announcements: her parents’ divorce and her younger sister’s engagement. She seeks refuge at a Norwegian artist colony that’s offered her a painting apprenticeship. Unfortunately, she finds only one artist living there: Alf, an enigmatic middle-aged descendant of the Sami reindeer hunters who specialises in the colour yellow.
Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, is kneading bread in the shop’s window when he sees his mother for the first time in a decade. As he gains a selfish and unreliable parent, he loses his beloved father. He must carry out his father’s last wish to be buried ‘at the top of the world’ and reconcile with the charismatic woman who abandoned them both.
And so Frances’s and Yasha’s paths intersect in Lofoten, a string of five islands ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle. Their unlikely connection and growing romance fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes, and teaches them that to be alone is not always to be lonely, and that love and independence are not mutually exclusive.
The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements (Amalfi Coast, Italy) Released on 2nd July by Simon and Schuster
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Abby Clements’ previous novels so am really looking forward to reading this one!
Anna and her husband Matteo are ready to embark a delicious Italian adventure. After a year and a half running their ice cream shop on Brighton beach and raising their baby Isabella, Matteo is starting to miss Italy. A shared passion for ices means it’s easy to settle on a new business idea – they’ll open a shop in the town’s cobbled square, a short walk from the sparkling blue sea. For a while, life is sweet; but then Matteo’s overbearing family get involved…
Anna’s younger sister Imogen feels like things are finally coming together – she’s living with boyfriend Finn in a beach house in Brighton, and her photography is taking off. Then her career stalls, and the lure of Capri – and a man from her past – prove difficult to resist.
Join Anna and Imogen and share a summer on the Amalfi Coast that you’ll never forget.
Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen (Maine, New England, USA) Released on 2nd July by Vintage)
I saw the cover for this book on Twitter earlier in the week and had to find out more. Once I’d read the blurb this book went straight on my summer reading wish list – it sounds like a great read.
Everyone needs a place like Hopewell Cottage – a romantic holiday rental on a small, sunny island.
For Rose and Lottie, it’s a refuge from the frenzy of the school gates.
For Beverly, it’s a chance to say goodbye to two lost loves.
And for disgraced movie star Caroline, it offers the anonymity she craves.
But on tiny Little Lost Island, with its cocktail parties, tennis matches and Ladies’ Association for Beautification, will they really find the answers to their very modern problems?
The Blue by Lucy Clarke (The Philippines) Released on 30th July by HarperCollins
I’m such a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s books! Having loved The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath I can’t wait to read The Blue!
They had found paradise.
What would they do to keep it?
With a quick spin of the globe, Kitty and Lana escape their grey reality and journey to the Philippines. There they discover The Blue – a beautiful yacht, with a wandering crew.
They spend day after languorous day exploring the pristine white beaches and swimming beneath the stars, and Lanadrifts further away from the long-buried secrets of home.
But the tide turns when death creeps quietly on deck.
A dangerous swell of mistrust and lies threatens to bring the crew’s adventures to an end – but some won’t let paradise go…whatever the price.
The Sea Between Us – Emylia Hall (Cornwall and beyond!) Released on 27th August by Headline
Having recently been on a brilliant holiday to Cornwall, I stumbled upon this book while I was looking for novels set there. I’ve not read any of Emylia’s books before but this sounds like an excellent place to start and I love the gorgeous cover!
In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved – just – by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.
Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago’s paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?
The Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jeffries (Ceylon – now Sri Lanka) Released on 3rd September by Penguin
Another beautiful cover and intriguing premise from Dinah Jeffries whose excellent debut The Separation came out last year. I can’t wait to escape with it!
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.
Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…
Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?
The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.
Where are your literary travels going to take you this summer? I’d love to hear your recommendations.