We spent the last couple of happy weeks chugging around Normandy and Brittany in the camper van so in preparation, as well as packing up EVERYTHING we own (travel light, me? mwahhahaha...) and noting down a few recipes and tips from Martin Dorey's books above, I happily stocked up my Kindle with a pleasing stack of holiday reads.
Before we left, I finished Alan Cumming's Not My Father's Son. It was serialised on Radio 4 earlier this year and having gorged on The Good Wife on Netflix, I'm rather a fan. His memoir is part harrowing, part enthralling and an intriguing insight into an actor who has kept rather below the radar in this country.
I also recently finished The Versions of Us and The Snow Child, both of which I really enjoyed. Very different in style and story, but both equal page-turners. I loved the wonderfully evocative descriptions of nature in The Snow Child - I could almost feel myself chilled by an Alaskan winter reading it - and The Versions of Us was great. I read a review after reading it that suggested most people skip through the chapters to read the versions as whole stories, rather than in the One-Two-Three order in which they're presented in the book. I have to say, that never even crossed my mind but I might re-visit it one day and follow each version's thread through from start to end. I wonder if I'll end up favouring a different version (my favourite was Version Two btw).
So, onto my holiday reading. For the first time in forever, I actually managed to read FOUR AND A HALF (count 'em) books whilst we were away. Last year I didn't even manage one page, such was the hectic nature of that road trip, so to have uninterrupted reading time this year during sunny pool days and lazy evenings was an absolute indulgence. So much so that I happily worked my way through:
- The Rosie Project - I read David Nicholls' Us earlier this year and this popped up as a recommendation when I finished so I thought I'd give it a go. Oh my word, I LOVED this book. I know I'm late to it but it was wonderful. I can't wait to read the follow-up, The Rosie Effect, I hope it's just as enchanting and amusing.
- The Girl on the Train - before I started it, I wondered whether it would be any good. It's much hyped and sometimes the hype doesn't quite live up to the reality (Go Set a Watchman anybody?). And I have to confess, I had a couple of false starts before I got into it. It's certainly not a happy-go-lucky escapism holiday read; the early chapters are quite raw but once I was about a third of the way through I was completely hooked, reading late into the early hours most evenings as I simply couldn't put it down. It's no surprise that Dreamworks have bought the film rights. It will make a suspenseful and dramatic movie alright. Just don't read the last few chapters on your own in the dark in a field, like I did or you'll not sleep for hours....
- Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon - I love this series of books about a Venetian detective, this is no. 13 and every one so far has been a treat. Not heavyweight or taxing by any means, but perfect for a little pool-side R&R and a complete change of pace from The Girl on the Train.
- The Proposal by Tasmina Perry - I wondered if this would be a bit fluffy after reading the blurb and initially I thought it was a rather hackneyed and predictable, but little by little this book won me over and turned from a slightly trashy chick-lit read into an elegant and absorbingly multi-layered story. It winds from the present back to the days of the last debutantes and back again as the two main characters' lives cross and gradually weave together through a common bond. I enjoyed it a lot.
- My final read was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I'm just over three quarters the way through and given the subject matter (the plight of a young girl in Nazi Germany, narrated by Death himself), to describe it as enchanting seems a little weird, but it truly is. It's beauty and destruction in equal measure. I've avoided the film in order to read the book first but now I'm curious to see if the visual interpretation could pull off the intricacies of the written words so I might seek out the film when I've finished it.
So those were my 2015 holiday reads. All different but all enjoyable. Now, when's the next trip eh?