The newspaper round-ups of holiday reading have come and gone, but conscious of the fact that many schools are breaking up around now, I thought I'd make a list of my recommended Holiday Reads. I don't entirely buy it when I see people choosing hefty tomes of military history/biography/science etc to take to the beach or the villa, or the cottage, so I'm going for things that will pass a pleasant hour or two in the shade of an enormous umbrella or tree. I'm not limiting myself to books I've read recently, either, though there may be some of those. I'm going to have two sections in this round up: one for adults and one for children. I hope some of you will be able to test a few of these in idyllic circumstances.
A FATAL INVERSION by Barbara Vine
The author is Ruth Rendell too, of course, and it's hard to choose one from among her many outstanding books. These are always on sale in charity shops so pick any, really. I chose this one because it's set in the hot,hot summer of 1976 but ASTA'S BOOK or A DARK-ADAPTED EYE will do just as well.
ANY BERTIE WOOSTER NOVEL by P.G.Wodehouse
Men often choose Wodehouse in such round-ups but I reckon he's just as funny for women. My favourite is THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS
THE BRUTAL ART by Jesse Kellerman
An intelligent and unputdownable American thriller. About art and history and lots more. Proper people in it too. He's the son of two other thriller writers, Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman. His mother is, I believe, also a Rabbi. Clearly a family to be reckoned with.
LIFE SENTENCES by Laura Lippman
She's the wife of David Simon, creator of The Wire. A very interesting and absorbing novel, with a thriller element to it, set in Baltimore.
CITY OF FALLING ANGELS by John Berendt
He's the man who wrote the fabulous 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.' This is about Venice. It's a fantastically interesting account of what happened after the burning down of the La Fenice theatre. A must for anyone visiting that city. Read in association with Henry James's THE ASPERN PAPERS which is a real corker.
SAINT MAYBE by Anne Tyler
Anyone who knows Anne Tyler's work will understand why I've chosen her and this book. Those of you who don't, you have some wonderful treats in store. She's the best writer about families and their madnesses, sadnesses, wonderfulnesses and dreadfulnesses. She's funny, moving, and brilliant. She's the most human and humane of writers and I do urge you to try her books. I'm mentioning this one b ecause I've just read it and it's fresh in my mind but try also A PATCHWORK PLANET or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST or THE AMATEUR MARRIAGE. She's right up there with the greatest of US novelists, but famously publicity-shy, which is why she's not as ubiquitous as some of the Big Male Beasts of US fiction.
LOVE AND KISSES by Jean Ure
This is a very amusing and also slightly spooky book about young love and the way it takes hold of you and makes you lose any good sense you ever had. Light and funny but not silly, it's just right for holiday reading.
THE DROWNING POOL and THE MAGIC FLUTES by Eva Ibbotson
Both of these are perfect for romantic young girls and boys who are sensible enough not to mind a bit of romance. THE DROWNING POOL in particular is a wonderful book, full of Ruritanian romance and featuring a school based on a real one attended by the author in the Thirties. Ibbotson writes so well and ought to be considered a National Treaure.
PERMANENT ROSE by Hilary McKay
Another writer on whom you can always rely. All the novels featuring the Casson family are highly recommended. You can collect the whole set. I like this one best for no better reason than that I adore the title.
THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
I assume that this is still in print. My favourite Arthurian book of all and THE SWORD IN THE STONE, about Arthur's boyhood, is the sort of novel which changes your landscape forever.
Finally, I've just received in the post (and haven't yet read but want to draw to your attention) a novel by Patricia Elliott called THE PALE ASSASSIN. What an irresistible title! It's part one in a series called PIMPERNELLES and the books are set at the time of the French Revolution. Elliott is a very good writer indeed (remember MURKMERE?) and this, with its deliberate nod to Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel, is sure to be terrific. Watch this space as I'll comment on it further once I've taken it on holiday myself.