Books editor Orna Mulcahy shares three atmospheric summer reads …
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, Penguin, €15.20
The classic American summer-at-the-cabin saga gets a reboot with this scorching novel of betrayal in plain sight. Elle Bishop’s family have been coming to the same compound in the backwoods for 50 years and this summer is no different except for the spark that ignites with her childhood friend Jonas who couldn’t be more different to her English husband Peter. As a single day unfolds, family secrets seep from the rackety cabin walls even as matriarch Wallace exerts iron control over the family and their memories. Highly readable and with superb detail, you can imagine yourself there with them on the creaking porch.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Hutchinson, €14.99
If it’s crashing surf, gorgeous people and the perfect lobster roll you’re craving, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising has it in spades. It’s the 1980s and the talented Riva siblings live for surfing, for each other and the memory of their late mother. Abandoned by their famous father, a hideous slick-haired crooner, they’ve done well for themselves. When Nina Riva hosts one of her famously wild, end-of-summer parties at her clifftop mansion the scene is set for incendiary events. Packed with sleazy stars, Jacuzzi action and pounding surf, I loved the depiction of Malibu long ago with its Valley of the Dolls vibe. If you’ve a beach to go to, bring this.
A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson, Bloomsbury, €17.60
Described by the Guardian as The Durrells for grown ups, Polly Samson’s A Theatre for Dreamers tells of a sultry stay on the Greek island of Hydra in the 1960s, recalled by the narrator, the fictional Erica, who lived there for a time when she was 18. Erica inherits some money from her mother who wanted her to have an adventure and sends her to Hydra to visit her old friend, the real life Australian writer Charmian Clift, who, with her husband George Johnston, run a kind of literary colony on the island, encouraging and feeding writers and artists. Along comes a 25-year-old Leonard Cohen, who in real life claims that the couple taught him to write. He’s soon attracted to the young wife of another artist, Marianne Ihlen and the rest is history. Samson, who has lived on Hydra, perfectly evokes the heat and sensuality of the island which is spared mass tourism because it doesn’t have sandy beaches, just rocky outcrops from which to dive into its green crystal waters.
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