Each week this summer, we’re asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials. This week, David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary tell us which characters from their books they would whisk away for a summer trip…
Ooh, interesting question! I think I’d like Leon to take me to Ireland. We both have Irish roots (though mine are more distant than Leon’s!) and I would love to explore that side of my family with someone who knows Ireland well. Plus I think Leon would be great to travel with: he’d want his own space, he’d be nice and quiet on the plane so you could read your book, and if you, say, sprained your ankle while swimming in the sea, well, he’d be able to carry you to shore…
Interesting question! I think Juno, from The Hideaway, is more like me than some of my other characters so we might have fun together. I know she’s a big fan of Spain since she found her summer hideaway in the orange groves of Valencia, so I’d bring her to the beautiful Basque country and the town of San Sebastián which is one of the loveliest places in the world.
“A moving, intimate and wonderful portrait of six very different yet simultaneously very similar women.”
“I’m not a great lover of multiple viewpoints or of narratives that have several timescales, but in Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn they are exquisite and completely magical. I was utterly captivated by every word. This is such a wonderfully written book because each individual first person narrative is distinct and affecting.”
“Every single one of the women is clearly and sympathetically drawn, even when she is flawed and behaving badly. I felt less that I was reading about them, and more that I was sitting in The Bluebell Inn on a Thursday night eavesdropping their conversations and their inner most thoughts. I loved each and every one of them and now I’ve finished the book I miss them.”
“Kit Fielding has woven so many believable strands into Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn that there truly is something for every reader. There’s death, love, political activism, abuse, passion, and above all an overwhelming sense of living depicted here so that I hated being away from the book. It called to me so compellingly that my life went on hold until I had devoured every word. There is fabulous humour balanced so poignantly with deep feeling that Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn vibrates with raw and vivid emotion and life.”
“Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn is a novel that far transcended my expectations. I found it funny. I found it emotional. I thought it was wonderful.”
“A lovely read. We learn all about the loves and lives, the losses and traumas of the six women who make up the ladies darts team at The Blue Bell Inn. Each player is crafted so well we feel we know them so quickly and share their triumphs and their disasters.”
“A delicate read leaving me wanting to know what happened next.”
“Thursday nights have never been so entertaining.”
“Even if you know nothing about darts, like me, this doesn’t matter; it’s the women who make the story and capture your interest…
Irish Mary, Katy, Lena, Pegs, Maggie and Marie, aka Scottie Dog all have their own upsets and tragic secrets which will all come out throughout the book as to what motivates and moves these women’s lives and how they deal with it, the darts being their only escape.”
“Very easy to read but very hard to put down.”
“Kit Fielding has created real characters which stay with you after you have read the book. His novel provides life stories within the format of a novel. I hope he writes a sequel so that we can discover more secrets!”
“I love a book than can deftly combine various plotlines into one, and Kit Fielding is a master of this. Despite the story mainly taking place once a week, on dart night, he manages to create a rich plot for each of the women at the heart of his novel, each more heartbreaking than the previous one.”
Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.
But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.
What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.
Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?
‘Kit Fielding’s debut is a triumph. A story told with brutal honesty, underpinned by humour, love, hope and the inestimable power of friendship.’ RUTH HOGAN, author of The Keeper of Lost Things
In every pub in every town unspoken stories lie beneath the surface.
Each week, six women meet at The Bluebell Inn. They form an unlikely and occasionally triumphant ladies darts team. They banter and jibe, they laugh. But their hidden stories of love and loss are what, in the end, will bind them.
There is Mary, full of it but cradling her dark secret; Lena – young and bold, she has made her choice; the cat woman who must return to the place of her birth before it’s too late. There’s Maggie, still laying out the place for her husband; and Pegs, the dark-eyed girl from the travellers’ site bringing her strangeness and first love. And Katy: unappreciated. Open to an offer.
They know little of each other’s lives. But here they gather and weave a delicate and sustaining connection that maybe they can rely on as the crossroads on their individual paths threaten to overwhelm.
With humanity and insight, Kit Fielding reveals the great love that lies at the heart of female friendship.
Raw, funny and devastating, all of life can be found at the Bluebell.
A Stylist Must-Read and one of the most talked about books of last year, Holly Bourne’s debut adult novel, How Do You Like Me Now?, is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.
To celebrate publication, we’ve linked up with French Connection and SpaBreaks.com to give you the chance to enjoy some quality time with your partner, best friend or mum by winning a luxury spa break for two, plus a signed copy of the book each!
The Elan Spa at Mallory Court is a destination in its own right. Tucked amongst the trees within picturesque gardens, this four-star country house hotel in Leamington Spa is part of the esteemed Relais & Châteaux group – there’s nowhere better to sit back, relax and escape the everyday.
The spa break for two includes:
• Dinner, bed and breakfast for two people for one night, with full use of the spa facilities from 2.00pm on arrival until 11.00am on check out • A glass of Champagne on arrival – and a cream tea too! • 1 x 55 minute spa treatment each, plus Rhassoul for two • Dinner in the Brasserie restaurant (£30.00 dinner allowance per person) • Overnight accommodation in a Superior master bedroom with robes, towels and slippers provided for the ultimate relaxation
Spabreaks.com is Europe’s number one spa break specialist and has spa days and breaks ready and waiting for whatever spa experience you’re in the mood for. From wellness retreats to champagne afternoon teas, twilight escapes to luxury spa weekends, their Spa Experts are on hand to offer advice and guidance to find the best spa experience for you.
Sorry, but I always want to go to Italy best of all. And the next place I want to visit is Tellaro (see above – I’m consistent!). I have been there before but not for 10 years, so that means it’s definitely time to go there again…
The sun has finally come out, and that can mean only one thing… the Bookends Beach Party is back!
Each week we’ll be asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials – from holiday routines to travel bucket lists. First up, we have Sheila O’Flanagan, Ruth Hogan and Rosanna Ley sharing their must-reads for summer 2019…
I am most looking forward to reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn which fortunately has also been nominated by my Book Group for July. It is autobiographical and about two people who have not only been made homeless but also received some other devastating news. They decide to walk the South West Coast Path (630 miles) while they decide what to do. I am fortunate enough to live beside this coastal path in West Dorset and I walk part of it most days (a very small part usually). The story sounds emotional and fascinating and I can’t wait to get started…
An uplifting novel of mothers and daughters, families and secrets and the astonishing power of friendship, from the bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things.
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.
Many years later, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda goes back to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all…
‘As lovely as a burst of bright bluebells’ Sunday Express ‘Technicolour’ Daily Mail ‘A moving exploration of the complex relationship between mothers and daughters’ Observer ‘A poignant tale of love and family’ Good Housekeeping
In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.
Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.
But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.
The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.
Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.
‘Such a beautiful book. Captures perfectly a moment in time we’ve all experienced.’ Graham Norton
It’s Independent Bookshop Week, so we’re rounding up the very best indies for you to visit this weekend… the perfect excuse to support your local independent booksellers and buy yourself a new book (or two)!
Persephone Books is an independent bookshop and publisher, dedicated to reprinting forgotten novels by women writers. Famous for their stylish grey covers and beautifully-designed endpapers, Persephone is a peaceful haven in the centre of Bloomsbury. Even better, the shop’s team operates a strict afternoon tea policy, with all employees required to break at 4pm daily for tea and cake…
This original Edwardian bookshop boasts an impressive three floors with original oak balconies, a high conservatory ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows – as well as lots of lovely books to suit any mood. A little (or rather large) gem on Marylebone High Street.
With its iconic green storefront, Foster Books has been the go-to bookshop for the people of Chiswick since 1968. This independent specialises in used, hard-to-find, out-of-print or rare books. Have a browse if you’re in the market for something special!