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From erotica to the Great War... perfect holiday reading that really pack a punch

Whether it's a weighty tome to keep you enthralled by the pool, or a romantic romp that guarantees true escapism, Edel Coffey has all the best books to get you through the summer months

Published 04/06/2016

Page-turner: choosing a book to pass time by the pool is always a dilemma
Page-turner: choosing a book to pass time by the pool is always a dilemma

One of the biggest dilemmas when packing for summer holidays is which books to bring to pass the time by the pool.

Whether you want to catch up on prize shortlisted books, or simply indulge in an escapist romp, there are plenty to choose from this summer.

Memoirs and biographies

Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom is the remarkable tale of how she went in search of her estranged father and discovered he had undergone gender reassignment surgery. The discovery forces Faludi to re-explore the violent, explosive father she knew as a child and also makes her question the very meaning of identity.

Evelyn Waugh lived an fascinating life in one of history's most glamorous eras and a new biography looks at his life. Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited by Philip Eade marks the 50th anniversary of his death. It delves into his gay relationship in Oxford that formed the basis of his inspiration for his novel Brideshead Revisited's character Sebastian, and new material from the Waugh family offers fresh insight into his relationship with his father and his two marriages.


Music fans will be interested in Altamont, Joel Slevin's new book on the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert. Based on 20 years of research, Slevin recounts the concert that led to the murder of a fan by Hells Angels who were drafted in by the Grateful Dead to provide security.

Paul McCartney's new biography is an 800-page tome that is as detailed as you might expect. Written by music biographer Philip Norman, this is not a whitewash of Sir Paul and he comes across as mean with money and controlling of women. It also offers a good insight into his post-Beatles years and beyond.

Cowboy Song: The authorised biography of Phil Lynott (Constable; February) by Graeme Thompson is the fascinating story of the working-class boy who became Ireland's first rock star. Published earlier this year to mark the 30th anniversary of Lynott's death, this was written with the co-operation of the Lynott Estate.

Crime fiction and thriller

For crime fiction and thriller-lovers, there are any number to choose from, but Lisa Gardner's Find Her is one to watch out for. Gardner tells the story of a former-kidnap-victim-turned-vigilante, and her attempts to stop women being abducted. But when she goes missing again, Detective DD Warren has one job, to find her.

Lying In Wait is the second book from bestselling novelist Liz Nugent, the follow-up to her hit debut, Unravelling Oliver. This one is a sordid tale of a judge, his wife and their son and just how they got caught up in the murder of a drug-addicted prostitute.

JK Rowling has just released her third novel as her alter-ego Robert Galbraith. Career Of Evil sees Cormoran Strike's secretary receive a woman's severed leg in the post and it's up to him to find out who sent it.

John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker novel was published earlier this year. A Time Of Torment sees Charlier Parker and his longtime sidekicks Angel and Louis travel to a small town in West Virginia to discover secrets of the past before their client dies.


Kick - The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth is a glamorous biography that has just about everything - political dynasties, aristocracy, glamour, love and tragedy. Kick moved to London before the war, where she won over English society and married the most eligible man in town, William "Billy" Cavendish, who was then in line to be the future Duke of Devonshire. Four months after their wedding, Billy was killed in the war.

Now might be a good time to catch up on the main players in the next American presidential election. Donald Trump's manifesto, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again gives his views on the economy, healthcare, national security and, of course, his by-now-infamous views on immigration reform.


Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty is the compelling story of a Strabane-born footballer who was signed up to Manchester United alongside Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, but whose career came to a tragically short end when he damaged his cruciate ligament. It was a career ender but this book tells the story of his talent and his tragic death at the age of 26.

While you're sipping on your third mojito of the day, you might like to peruse The Body Coach Joe Wicks' Lean in 15, just to prepare yourself for what you might have to do to lose the holiday pounds. Wicks has been an Instagram phenomenon and now has a four-book deal and a TV deal with Channel 4 - so you're going to be seeing a lot more of him.


One of the books of the year is Maestra by LS Hilton, a sort of cross between 50 Shades Of Grey and Gone Girl. Hilton is a well-known author of historical fiction and biographies, but this is a completely new departure for her.

Maestra tells the story of Judith, a young art expert working for an auction house in London. She's paid a pittance and when she bumps into a friend from her old life, she is introduced to a new way to make more money in one night than she makes in a month in her job.

Sex sells and soon Judith is travelling around Europe on a super-yacht. But when she accidentally overdoses a rich client, she has to stay on the run. This is Jackie Collins crossed with Jo Nesbo. It is irresistibly entertaining.

The Girls by Emma Cline is the one that everyone in the US is talking about. Hype aside, this book holds its own and tells the story of a cult of young women in 1960s northern California (based on the Manson Family).

Annie Proulx, the author of ­Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News, releases her first novel in six years, Barkskins. It tells the story of two Frenchmen who come to America in the late-17th century and make a living as woodcutters. At 700 pages, you shouldn't need to pack another book.

Fans of Downton Abbey will be pleased to see the show's creator Julian Fellowes publishing his latest novel, Belgravia. Beginning on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, it spans 25 years, and includes all the topics Fellowes loves so well - the aristocracy, the nouveau riche, and the currency of secrets amongst well-to-do families.

If you're not re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the millionth time, you might want to try Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld's modern-day update of Pride and Prejudice.

Set in Cincinatti, it is an indulgent but enjoyable take on the age-old favourite. Sittenfeld cleverly introduces all sorts of modern ideas from reality TV to a child-hungry yoga teacher.

These updates are terribly popular at the moment and there's currently a Shakespeare one on the go as well to mark his 400th anniversary. Howard Jacobson took on The Merchant of Venice with My Name is Shylock and Anne Tyler is doing Vinegar Girl, her update on The Taming Of The Shrew.

Anyone who enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger will want to pick up her new one, The Singles Game, which tells the story of a young tennis player's ambition to succeed at all costs. This is not tennis as we know it but a glitzy, celebrity-driven life.


Somme: Into the Breach by Hugh Sebag Motefiore is a ''fresh" account, apparently, of one of the most horrific and iconic battles in history. Based on first-hand accounts, the author tells a moving story of life at the front.

Sebag Montefiore is brilliant on the historical detail, but also knows how to tell a good story (he is married to the author Santa Montefiore).

Meanwhile, the other Sebag Montefiore, Simon, has published a riveting read in The Romanovs, his blistering history of the tsars.

Belfast Telegraph

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