It’s June already – just over two weeks to the solstice – and most of my friends are gearing up for their summer vacations. Chez Jilly we’re using our travel budget to fund our trip to RWA National in New York, so there will be no sand-and-sangria break for us this year. It’s been a hectic first half of 2015 though, so I’m thinking maybe I’ll designate the week after RWA as a reading-for-pleasure staycation. Experience suggests that I’ll bring a big bag full of new books back with me, so I should have plenty of choice, but just in case they’re not sunshine-friendly, I’d like to stock up now with a few perfect beach books to pile up beside my virtual deck-chair.
I spent an hour this morning trying to pin down what I’m looking for. In the end, I decided it was easier to give examples. I’ll be reading purely for fun – whatever takes my fancy, regardless of genre, fiction or non-fiction, new story or old favorite. Call me shallow, but I’m not seeking to be challenged. I’d like page-turners. Escapism. Great settings – perhaps a beach, the sea, brilliant sunshine; maybe an exotic location or unfamiliar culture. I’d have the time to indulge in a grand adventure, so I’d be open to something on an epic scale with lashings of Sturm und Drang.
On the menu so far:
The Fever Tree – Jennifer McVeigh
Enthusiastically recommended by Justine, an epic love story set in 1880s colonial South Africa with a spoiled and newly impoverished heroine, a marriage of convenience to an idealistic doctor and a dashing, diamond-dealing rogue. Sounds perfect!
Blue Heron Series – Kristan Higgins
Recommended by Jeanne, and I know Kat’s also a Kristan Higgins fan. These contemporary romances are set around a fictional small town in wine country. We’re wine lovers at Chateau Jilly and over the years we’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a few American family winemakers. I’d love to read a fun, funny, sexy story or two about their fictional equivalents!
A Bollywood Affair – Sonali Dev
This has been on my must-read list for ages and there’s been so much buzz about it, maybe I’d better read it now, before it wins a RITA and I’m playing catch-up. Set in the US but with Indian characters and culture, an arranged marriage and a Bollywood hero. Nice.
Some Old-School Romance by Kathleen E Woodiwiss
I’ve never read The Flame and The Flower, Kathleen Woodiwiss’s legendary debut novel – the first historical romance to detail physical intimacy between the hero and heroine, the first full-length romance to be published in paperback rather than hardback. I feel I should have read this, and I’m prepared to make allowances for the non-consensual physical encounters that were the only way a romance heroine was allowed to have sex back in the 1970s.
The Far Pavilions – M. M. Kaye
1978 romantic epic about an English officer and an Indian princess, set during the British Raj and based on the author’s grandfather’s writings and her own childhood in India. The best-selling book was also made into a TV series and a musical.
Shogun – James Clavell
I’m thinking a Far Eastern blockbuster would be a nice contrast to my Indian and African literary adventures. The mega-best-selling Shogun is set in feudal Japan and is loosely based on the life of the English sailor William Adams. The inspiration for the story was said to be a sentence that James Clavell read in his daughter’s school text-book: “In 1600, an Englishman went to Japan and became a samurai.” Great story-starter! I haven’t read Shogun in years but I’m tempted to re-visit it – in fact, maybe all six of James Clavell’s Asian Saga novels.
Have you lined up your holiday reading yet? What kind of books do you go for? What’s on your list? Do you have any suggestions for me to add to mine?