Summer reading 2022

For me there is no point in having a beautiful home unless I can read in it. I cannot relax unless I have a good book on the go – it is almost like a drug for me.

I do get quite stressed sometimes and the older I get the more I realise how helpfully I can manage my stress by reading. I am a creature of habit and reading is very much part of my routine.

I have made a few new discoveries recently. I have moved and I am very lucky that my new neighbour, Jane, is an avid reader as well and luckily, we share the same taste in almost everything, but certainly in books, so we swap notes a lot.

Jane introduced me to author Karen Swan, you can follow her on Instagram here.  She writes two books a year: one for Christmas and one for summer, a concept I absolutely love and I am really enjoying them. She researches her subject matter extremely thoroughly – I am sure all authors do, but she makes her research very obvious in her novels, deliberately using real life scenarios as a backdrop and peppering them with interesting facts.

I have read three of her books by now: The Christmas Secret a love story that unfolds in the whisky industry, the Paris Secret, set against the backdrop of a hoard of paintings that were found in an abandoned apartment in Paris in 2014 and the Hidden Beach, a summer read set in the Swedish archipelago near Stockholm.

The actual Paris apartment where a hoard of valuable paintings really were found in 2014

All three books are incredibly informative about the whiskey industry, the world of fine art and the lives of wealthy Stockholm residents respectively, but filled out by realistic, fun characters who you really enjoy getting to know while the surrounding mysterious events and accompanying love triangles are revealed and untangled. 

The Emu features large in the Paris Secret – you must read it!

I loved all three of them and I intend to make my way through all her books eventually. They are good page turners and you are in safe hands, knowing you will be better educated in the end, by a group of characters that you really care about.

I have introduced Jane to Lisa Jewell, an author who writes family dramas and mysteries set in North London, where my daughter has been living for a while now. You are transported by Lisa to this wonderful part of the world, which I find very handy as both my daughter and I are quite busy so I cannot visit her as often as I would like, but this way I can spend as much time as I want there for the price of a book – thank you Lisa – you can follow her on Instagram here

The first Lisa Jewell I read was The Third Wife. I thought it was a brilliant essay on marriage, the main protagonist is addicted to the excitement of a new relationship and seems to have no idea of the havoc he leaves in his wake when he moves on.

I cannot quite remember what happens in the end: I read on my kindle so I cannot flick back through very easily – a real pain, but I do love my light up kindle so I just put up with it, but I had to ask Jane! If you read a book you can simply reach for it on a shelf and remind yourself, I scribble down a review of all the novels I read in a notebook as a way of solving this problem.

My treasured reading notebook is from Northumberland based artist Sue Fenlon

Other novels I have since read by Lisa Jewell are Then She Was Gone, an intriguing mystery about a missing teenager, quite a harrowing story and another mystery called The Girls, set in a community of children in a communal garden in London,. I was brought up in a communal garden in London and remember the dynamics between the children well – not always particularly healthy or wholesome, I found it an uncomfortable read and hoped it was not realistic but worried it is I am afraid.

My third delight this summer is really drilling down on Rose Tremain. A wonderful author I have long enjoyed, but at last I have had the time to really start working my way through her books. My most recent read is ‘Trespass’ about a loose group of middle-aged people moving to France. Retiring to France has long been a dream of mine. I don’t think we are going to do it though as we have found everything that we hoped for in France here in Horncliffe and we don’t think we want to be any hotter, particularly if we are going to pursue our hobbies.

Trespass is disturbing in parts but a beautiful portrait of rural France and the middle-aged Brits are so believable – a lady garden designer writing a book in France called ‘Gardening Without Rain’, illustrated by her reasonably able, but not particularly successful water colour painter partner and her brother whose antiques shop is Chelsea is well past its sell by date and who hopes to retire with some scraped dignity near his sister…Brilliant but a rather unpleasant backstory.

Do you enjoy reading? My love for novels is intertwined with my love of interiors, I love authors who ‘set the scene’ and certainly my décor choices over the years have been hugely inspired by favourite films and TV dramas… Will go into this in a future post.

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