From thought provoking essays to gripping mysteries to action packed fun, the gloss editors have you covered for great reads this world book day
Orna Mulcahy, Books Editor
With a long flight ahead of me recently, I was lucky enough to grab Jo Jo Moyes latest novel, SOMEONE ELSE’S SHOES before take-off. It was perfect for the journey. Moyes recently told The Guardian that she is tired of gloomy books, and this one is anything but. The action gets going immediately as harried working mother Sam, rushing to use a gym pass before it expires, comes away from the changing room with the wrong bag – not her fake designer hold-all but the real thing, containing a perfect pair of Louboutin shoes and a Chanel jacket. Meanwhile, gloriously imperious Nisha is having a terrible time. Not only has someone stolen her bag from the gym but her husband appears to have cancelled her driver, her credit cards, and access to the five star hotel where they are staying. Now, she has nowhere to go and nothing to wear except a fake bag with some awful clumpy shoes in it. While Sam’s borrowed finery makes her feel ten feet tall at work, Nisha finds herself working as a cleaner at the hotel where she previously lived, but is now invisible on her drab uniform. Mortified, she’s tortured by the sight of her husband’s secretary prancing around in her couture clothes. Worse, the brute won’t give her a divorce settlement until she returns the Louboutins, to which he’s suspiciously attached. Is he a pervert or is there something special about those shoes. It’s up to Nisha, the new friends she meets below stairs and Sam to discover what is really going on. A delicious story of fashion, footwear, friendship and comeuppance served in spades.
Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor
I’m reading Colm Toibin’s essays, A GUEST AT THE FEAST, and enjoying the thoughtful, measured musings. Toibin is particularly lucid about his experience of cancer treatment.
I’m also in the middle of Nick Cave’s book, FAITH, HOPE & CARNAGE, and taking it slowly. It’s a fascinating outline of conversations with Irish journalist Sean O’Hagan, and on each page there is a thought or carefully sculpted phrase that you just want to soak in and consider. So it’s not a race-through read. For the full experience, listen to Cave’s exquisitely painful and otherworldly Ghosteen album in tandem, as this book delves into the tragedy that lies within that music. Cave is painfully honest and clear-sighted on grief, loss and tragedy – subjects that can be so difficult to express, yet are universally relevant: “We are all, at some point in our lives, obliterated by loss. If you haven’t been by now, you will be in time – that’s for sure.” A genuinely illuminating read that at times takes your breath away.
There was a book sale at the church hall before Christmas, and I left with a pile of great reads under my arm, including Sara Baume’s SEVEN STEEPLES. I always find it interesting to see what books people get rid of, and the bateaux-mouches ticket left inside this book indicates that the previous owner only reached page 43, but I’m sticking with it. I’m a big fan of Oxfam bookshops and also of the lovely Eamonn’s bookshop in Sandycove – though this does all mean that the pile of shame on my bedside table is teetering most dangerously …
Sarah Macken, Contributing Editor
At the moment, my bedside table is littered with books. I like to have a few on rotation that I dip in and out of depending on the night. Perhaps this means I have a poor attention span, or mostly I think I just bore easily (maybe they are one and the same!). Now and then, there’ll be a book that’ll shake me out of this à la carte routine, that will keep me with the same characters night after night. CLEOPATRA AND FRANKENSTEIN by Coco Mellors, is one such read. It follows the story of Cleo, an untethered British artist in her 20s who marries Frank, a New Yorker 20 years her senior, in order to secure a visa. What ensues is not so much the crumbling of a tenuous relationship, but a fascinating – and often funny – depiction of human nature and emotion. A novelty is that it’s set in the 2000s – there’s no mention of TikTok, Instagrammable shots or smartphones. Something that, in this digitally saturated age, is a holiday for the brain.
I binged THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE by Felicity McLean, a haunting and unlikely thriller: picture THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, if it was set in the 1990s in a suburb of Sydney.
Speaking of Jeffrey Eugenides’ THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, I picked up a special edition of it at Hodges Figgis recently with the most beautiful cover – it’s having a revival at the moment, thanks to BookTok. The book is bizarre and fascinating, and every bit as beautiful as the Sofia Coppola movie it spawned.
Penny McCormick, Deputy Editor
I alternate between tales of glossy lives and gripping thrillers. One of the most dazzling debuts was Jane Harper’s thriller The Dry (made into a film starring Eric Bana as the enigmatic federal investigator Aaron Falk, the book’s central character), which has earned her legions of fans. I have devoured subsequent books in the Falk series (it’s not necessary to read Forces of Nature or The Lost Man sequentially). EXILES is perhaps her best mystery yet. Set in the Marralee Valley, a fictional part of South Australian wine country, the book opens a year after the disappearance of a young mother, Kim Gillespie, at the town’s annual wine festival. The family launch a fresh appeal on the anniversary of her disappearance. Falk happens to be in town for a christening and though off duty, he looks into the case, in between soaking up the atmosphere in the lush valley and becoming increasingly attracted to Gemma, a widow whose husband, Dean, died in an equally mysterious car accident. In his inimitable measured style Falk unravels a double tragedy within this close knit community, while Harper impressively recounts the story in three time frames.
From debuts to debutantes … Raine Spencer is possibly most famous for being Diana’s (wicked) stepmother and the daughter of prolific author Barbara Cartland. She is the subject of Tina Gaudoin’s memoir THREE TIMES A COUNTESS: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND TIMES OF RAINE SPENCER. I lapped up this tale of London seasons, family feuds, politics, big hair and Raine’s carpe diem attitude. Like Pamela Harriman, the former US ambassador to France, Raine made marrying well something of a career, though was far from an idle trophy wife. Her last role was as a member of the board at Harrods. Worthy glossip: Raine became Diane’s closest confidante and was a key witness at the inquest into her death.
Next on my list is PARADISE NOW, William Middleton’s biography of Karl Lagerfeld which not only covers the late designer’s fashion and friendships but also his (huge) floral requirements – €1.5m was his annual budget for flowers …
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