Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary share which of their characters they would take on holiday!

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary share which of their characters they would take on holiday!

Each week this summer, we’re asking some of our favourite authors to share their summer essentials. This week, David NichollsSheila O’Flanagan and Beth O’Leary tell us which characters from their books they would whisk away for a summer trip…

Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare

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…

Sheila O’Flanagan, author of Her Husband’s Mistake

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.

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow

Well, not Douglas from Us – we’re too alike. Probably Emma in One Day. She wouldn’t insist on laying in the midday sun.

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding | Friends of Bookends Reviews

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding | Friends of Bookends Reviews

Each week, six women of different ages and backgrounds come together at their local pub. There they form an unlikely darts team, but it is their hidden stories of love and loss that in the end binds them…

Find out what the Friends of Bookends thought of Kit Fielding’s raw, funny and devastating debut…

Linda

“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.”

Tim

“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.”

Angie

“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.”

Jen

“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!”

Zarina

“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.”

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

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?

‘Manby’s novels are made for holidays’ Glamour

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding

Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding

‘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.

Win a luxury spa break for two!

Win a luxury spa break for two!

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 prize

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.

To enter, click here

A story for every woman who wonders if she is enough

Tori Bailey has built a career out of telling women how to live their best life. But is she brave enough to admit that her own isn’t working?

‘Clever, funny, sharp – the ultimate poolside read’ PANDORA SYKES

‘Identifiable, heartbreaking and wickedly funny … one of my favourite books of the year’ GIOVANNA FLETCHER

‘Tori is surely the Bridget Jones of our time’ STYLIST

‘The most perceptive book I have ever read about the female interior’ DOLLY ALDERTON

Read an excerpt of How Do You Like Me Now? here or pick up an exclusive sampler from a French Connection store.

Click here to find a complete French Connection store list and discover the latest collections

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Rosanna Ley share their travel bucket lists!

Bookends Beach Party | David Nicholls, Sheila O’Flanagan and Rosanna Ley share their travel bucket lists!

Flatlay of books on summer background: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary, The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley, Her Husband's Mistake by Sheila O'Flanagan, The Carer by Deborah Moggach, Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls and Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

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 Rosanna Ley tell us what’s on their holiday bucket lists.

David Nicholls, author of Sweet Sorrow

Outside of Europe, I’m not that well-travelled. India feels like the most obvious omission, so perhaps there, and with lots of time to do it.

Sheila O’Flanagan, author of Her Husband’s Mistake

I’ve never been to Japan and I really want to visit there one day so it’s right at the top of my list.

Rosanna Ley, author of The Lemon Tree Hotel

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 Bookends Beach Party is back! Three of our favourite authors share their summer must-reads…

The Bookends Beach Party is back! Three of our favourite authors share their summer must-reads…

The sun has finally come out, and that can mean only one thing… the Bookends Beach Party is back!

Summer flatlay image showing The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary, The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley, Her Husband's Mistake by Sheila O'Flanagan, The Carer by Deborah Moggach, Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls and Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

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…

Sheila O’Flanagan, author of Her Husband’s Mistake

  1. Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty
  2. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
  3. The Birthday Party by Roisin Meaney

Rosanna Ley, author of The Lemon Tree Hotel

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…

Ruth Hogan, author of Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel

  1. The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans
  2. Thursday Nights at the Bluebell Inn by Kit Fielding
  3. 59 Memory Lane by Celia Anderson

And don’t forget your tickets for our Bookends Girls’ Night In, a summery evening of great books and goodies, in partnership with Prima and Sanctuary Spa!

Image showing authors attending the Bookends Rooftop Book Club, including Sheila O'Flanagan, Chrissie Manby and Beth O'Leary
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

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

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

One life-changing summer, Charlie meets Fran…

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

The best independent bookshops to visit this weekend!

The best independent bookshops to visit this weekend!

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, Bloomsbury

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…

Daunt Books, Marylebone

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.

Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh

A busy cultural hub for the local community, Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh is a welcoming and friendly independent. Its booksellers are full of knowledge and genuinely passionate about their literary offerings. They even have a regular podcast about all things bookish!

Foster Books, Chiswick

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!

To find your nearest independent bookshop, visit this page.