I’ve been late on my Summer Reading list this year so I thought I would compile a transitional list of delicious reads that will take us from summer into autumn. Here are a selection of magical, ghostly, nostalgic and historical novels that have tumbled through my door over the last few months.
The Curiosity, Stephen Kiernan
Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. Remarkably, the frozen man is brought back to the lab and successfully reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was—is—a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906.
Witches, A Tale of Sorcery Scandal and Seduction, Tracy Borman
September 1613. The heir of one of England’s great noble families falls ill. Convulsing fits, a foaming mouth. Within a month he will suffer an excruciating death. Soon the whole family will fall ill.
On March 11, 1619, in the city of Lincoln two sisters, Margaret and Phillipa Flower, were hanged for witchcraft. Tracy Borman’s new book investigates their tragedy and traces the dramatic events which unfolded at one of England’s oldest and most spectacular castles four hundred years ago.
The case is among those which constitute the European witch craze of the 15th-18th centuries, when suspected witches were burned, hanged, or tortured by the thousand. Like those other cases, it is a tale of superstition, the darkest limits of the human imagination and, ultimately, injustice – a reminder of how paranoia and hysteria can create an environment in which nonconformism spells death. But as Tracy Borman reveals here, it is not quite typical. The most powerful and Machiavellian figure of the Jacobean court had a vested interest in events at Belvoir. He would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries.
Here Be Dragons, Stella Gibbons
When Nell Sely moves from sleepy Dorset to Hampstead she leaves behind a childhood of dull teas and oppressive rules for the freedom of the big city. Naive and only nineteen, she becomes embroiled with the wayward John Gaunt and falls in with London’s bohemian crowd. In this city of seductive, shifting morals, smoke-filled jazz-clubs and glamorous espresso bars, Nell must master her new found independence and learn to strike her own course.
Blood & Beauty: The Borgias, Sarah Dunant
Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias? A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, their very name epitomizes the ruthless politics and sexual corruption of the Papacy.
The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both as Cardinal and Pope. The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, and their lovely sister, Lucretia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.
“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” is an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the colour and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family
Three Brothers, Peter Ackroyd
The newest novel from legendary Peter Ackroyd, Three Brothers follows the fortunes of Harry, Daniel and Sam Hanway, born on a post-war council estate in Camden Town. Marked out from the start by curious coincidence, each boy is forced to make his own way in the world – a world of dodgy deals and big business, of criminal gangs and crooked landlords, of newspaper magnates, back-biters and petty thieves.
London is the backdrop and the connecting fabric of these three lives, from bustling, cut-throat Fleet Street to hallowed London publishing houses, from the wealth and corruption of Chelsea to the smoky shadows of Limehouse and Hackney, this is an exploration of the city, peering down its streets, riding on its underground, and drinking in its pubs and clubs. Everything is possible – not only in the new freedom of the 1960s but also in London’s timeless past.
The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones, Jack Wolf
The year is 1751, and Tristan Hart, is a brilliant young man of means. He leaves his Berkshire home for London to lodge with his father’s friend, the novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding, and study medicine at the great hospital of University College. It will be a momentous year for the cultured and intellectually ambitious Mr Hart, who, as well as being a student of Locke and Descartes and a promising young physician, is also, alas, a psychopath.
His obsession is the nature of pain, and preventing it during medical procedures. His equally strong and far more unpredictable obsession is the nature of pain, and causing it. Desperate to understand his own deviant desires before they derail his career and drive him mad, Tristan sifts through his childhood memories, memories that are informed by dark superstitions about faeries and goblins and shape-shifting gypsies. Will the new tools of the age-reason and science and scepticism-be enough to save him?
Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks on over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org