Wednesday 3 July 2013

Guest Post: Stacey Clough

Books for All Seasons…

Being British, I have an unhealthy obsession with the weather. I sometimes like to make my reading choices weather appropriate. I hope my recommendations for warm weather and rainy day reading provides inspiration – and feel free to switch if you feel the need for sunshine on a rainy day or vice versa!

Warm Weather Reading

‘The Lacuna’ by Barbara Kingsolver

This epic novel spans a number of locations and decades and is narrated by Harrison Shepherd, an American boy who lives in the house of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera during the 1930’s, eventually becoming private secretary to Leo Tolstoy. He is immersed in their politics, creative processes and frequent, fluctuating romantic liaisons, which leads to serious repercussions in later life during the Truman Administration and ensuing investigations into Communist activities. Using a combination of open prose, personal letters and diary entries, newspaper reports and fictitious transcripts, this novel skilfully explores themes of isolation, identity, loyalty and the true nature of desire. The story is backed by lush descriptions of the Mexican coastline, Mexico City and Chichen Itza, this is a book for the thinking woman who desires something a little different than a beach romance.

‘Backpack’ by Emily Barr 

Tansy is a young woman who lives life on the edge. Following the death of her mother, she wakes up in a hospital bed on New Years Day following an accidental overdose. With an inheritance sitting in a bank account, Tansy decides she needs to get away from it all and embarks on a years travelling in SE Asia. Tansy is not your typical backpacker – dressed in designer clothing and referring to herself as a ‘suitcaser’ – she sneers at her fellow travellers, finding them ridiculous. She has a change of heart when she meets a group of people with whom she begins to travel and realises there may be more to life than her previous shallow exploits. However, young blonde women like Tansy are being murdered across the continent in the locations that Tansy visits – is Tansy paranoid or can there be a direct link between her and the murders across the miles? Taking the reader through beautiful remote locations including Vietnam, Laos and India this book is a escapism in its truest form, perfectly paced and exciting, with a dark thread of fear and paranoia running through the prose and with a twist in the tail, this book is a must for any beach bag.

Rainy Day Reads

‘Only My Dreams’ by Anna Blundy 
When it’s cold outside, for me there is nothing I like to do more than curling up with a cup of tea and a new book. This is exactly what I did with this book – and found myself sat in the same place, tea untouched eight hours later. Alice longs to rise above her poor background and paltry life with her hippy mother to become part of the privileged society elite. Passing an entrance exam to a posh school, the story surrounds Alice’s struggles to fit in with her peers and the consequences she faces once she has broken through. Set partially in Russia, this book has some beautiful descriptions of snowy remote landscapes, rainy London streets and the occasional sunshine moments in Sardinia Incorporating Chechen gangsters, a nasty romantic interest and the despair of unrequited love, this novel is something to truly involve yourself in. I would advise not picking up unless you mean to finish in one sitting.

‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt  

This is the story of a group of cloistered, elite pupils at a small American university who have committed a random act of brutality together and their ensuing desire to keep it a secret. Richard penetrates the group at a time when they are reluctant to involve him in their mysterious practices but he is drawn in by a number of unreliable stories and lies. The influence of Julian, their eccentric teacher who will engage with only a few select pupils each semester, seems to enhance the group’s secrecy. Told entirely from Richards POV, the story unfolds as he reveals it, piece by piece to a dizzying, horrifying conclusion. You could do worse than selecting this engrossing novel on those days when the clouds are dark and menacing.

Stacey is in the process of setting up a book blog but in the meantime you can follow her on twitter: @CloughPants1980


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