Summer Reads from Summers Past


Ah May, the month when summer once again becomes a real possibility rather than an impossible fantasy that (hopefully) helps get you through the snow and the rain that monopolizes most of the Canadian calendar. Summer is a time when a walk outside requires sundresses and sandals, an evening out involves patios and barbeque, and time off equates to sun tanning and a great book. Yes, May is the time of year when the newest and hottest “summer reads” begin to appear on bookshelves, often still in hardcover and often overpriced. Undoubtedly, some of these books will be great reads, but if you (like me) don’t have the money to spend or the patience for the library’s wait list, give a few of these old favorites of mine a try!

For the Fast Reader
The House at Riverton AKA The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton (2009)

My Take: Any of Kate Morton’s novels are long enough to ensure that even the fastest reader will be occupied for a respectable amount of time. Her first novel, The House at Riverton, is full of mystery, secrets, and intrigue, and will keep you interested until the very last page. But Reader Beware! This is a book that will suck you in until you’ve reached the very end!

The Gist: In 1924, a famous poet commits suicide at an English estate, and the glamorous Hartford sisters who live there never speak to one another again.  In 1999 former servant Grace Bradley‘s memories of the events are reawakened when a filmmaker begins questioning her, and the secrets of the House at Riverton begin to emerge. 

For the Romantic
Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon (2007)

My Take: Paige Toon writes what is generally considered to be “Chick Lit” but her novels have held my attention far more than most others in the genre. Lucy in the Sky is romantic in all the right ways, and heart wrenching in all the right places. It’s the book that I suggest to my girlfriends when they need some escapist fun.

The Gist: Lucy flies from London to Sydney for the wedding of her two oldest friends, leaving her boyfriend James behind in London. Before stepping onto the plane, Lucy is happy with her life, and excited for the trip, but with just one final glance at her phone her world begins to collapse around her. Torn between two countries, two men, and two versions of herself, Lucy is going to have to make some decisions.

For the Non-Fiction Lover
Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill (1999)

My Take: This book left me more than a little infatuated with the Murphy’s and desperate for more information about them; I have read several other books about their lives, but Vaill’s (who is herself a distant relative of the Murphy’s) is, in my opinion, the best.

The Gist: If you’re interested in getting to know more about the group of friends among whom Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Earnest Hemingway spent their time, then this is the book for you. Gerald and Sara Murphy are the couple who, among (many) other things, inspired Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. The story of their life together is interesting, somewhat tragic, and will leave you surprised that you hadn’t heard of them before.

For the Cinephile
A Widow For One Year by John Irving (1998)

My Take: Tod William’s 2004 film The Door in the Floor is based on only a section of Irving’s novel, and this is one of the rare occasions where I will actually recommend reading the book after seeing the film. The novel spans a much greater period of time, and thus allows the novel to answer many of the questions I had after seeing the movie. Irving is known for his dark and complicated story telling and A Widow for One Year is no exception—at times the book can be hard to get through, but it is worth sticking with until the end.

The Gist: At its most basic, the story follows the lives of authors Ruth Cole and Eddie O’Hare beginning when Ruth is just four years old, and sixteen year old Eddie, who has comes to work for her family one summer, falls in love with her mother Marion.
Itching to read? Check out your local library for these titles or head to the closest used book shop.
Featured Image sourced on WeHeartIt.  


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