Freya Parr rounds up the best books from the last month, including the one everyone is talking about.
With the weather as turbulent as the relationships in Love Island, there’s never been a better time to pick up a book. Whether you’re outside in the sun, with sweat dripping elegantly from your nose onto your copy of Little Women, or you’re hiding inside from the thunderous rain, gently nursing Great Expectations, it’s the perfect season to finally get your teeth into a good book. And, fortunately for us, there are some really rather good ones on the market this month.
Marcy Dermansky Very Nice
Very Nice is a deceptively clever book. It’s got all the tropes of a usual ‘summer read’ but with more of the spice and excitement usually lacking from such books. It draws you in with a love triangle between a young woman, her creative writing professor and her mother, all set onto the backdrop of a beautiful, enormous house. Sex, relationships, betrayal – we all know the drill. But there’s actually so much more to it.
Each chapter has a different narrator, so the perspective is constantly shifting and the dynamics of each relationship are always in flux. There are political and racial overtones throughout, subtly evaluated as part of this compulsive main plot. Very Nice is much, much more than a trashy holiday read about a weird dual-generational love triangle, and you’ll like it more than you think.
Lisa Taddeo Three Women
What a different book. The process of writing is equally as fascinating as the finished product: Taddeo spent eight years recording the lives of three women and their relationships, living in their communities and embedding herself in their worlds. This incredible journalistic endeavour results in a raw, detailed exploration of the hypocrisies of heterosexual relationships in the modern day. Issues of consent, the legal system and society’s judgment are writ large through the pages of this book, and the three women will stay with you long after you’ve closed its pages.
Maggie looks back on an affair she had with a married teacher when she was at high school and the consequent court proceedings that follow; Lina lives in a sexless marriage and relies on the sexual connection she has in her extramarital affair with her first boyfriend; Sloane is accomplished and beautiful, and she and her husband have an open marriage, engaging with other parties. Its stories detail the hypocrisies of heterosexual relationships with rawness and
It’s a journalistic book, but drawn in such a creative and lyrical way that the lines of non-fiction seem to be blurred because the writing is so colourful and sumptuous.
David Nicholls Sweet Sorrow
David Nicholls is fast becoming the nation’s sweetheart. His stories of love and coming of age have ‘touched the hearts of a generation’. There you go, a bit of Richard & Judy Bookclub banter for you there. If you liked One Day and his other bestsellers, Sweet Sorrow will probably be right up your alley, too.
Nicholls tells the story of Charlie, a woebegone and aimless 16-year-old lad, who meets a girl called Fran Fischer in a summer that will dictate the course of his life. He joins a theatre cooperative in order to spend more time with her – a plot-line no doubt inspired by Nicholls’ past life as an actor – and the novel unfolds in line with the play’s production. It’s not quite the taught novel that One Day is. 400 pages for a teenage summer romance might seem excessive, but if you’re wanting a story to get lost in and keep by your side for this sweltering summer, this might be worth grabbing for your beach bag.
Words: Freya Parr