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A Stylish Selection of Summer Reading

Posted on 19th June 2019 by Mark Skinner

Whether you are striding along the sea-front at Monte Carlo or parking up the caravan in the heart of the English countryside, we all crave a little bit of style and sparkle in our summer. This selection of books, noted for their languorous glamour and bohemian decadence, are gateways into sumptuous narratives perfect for the warmth and light of the season. 

From the ballrooms of fin-de-siècle Europe to an Italian Riviera peopled by new wave film stars, and from the broken majesty of post-war Berlin to the cut-glass cattiness of the American socialite scene, these eloquent and evocative volumes will transport you to luxuriant worlds where drama and desire lurk tantalisingly beneath the surface.   

£14.99
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A tale of creative and romantic obsession set against the backdrop of the thriving Bauhaus scene, The Hiding Game brilliantly evokes the political tensions of the Weimar era and the conflict between art and encroaching Fascism. Gripping yet sophisticated, it is a novel of eloquent power.
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£8.99
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Casting the stars and sirens of the silver screen in an exquisite fictionalised narrative, Leading Men plays sensitively with the likes of Tennessee Williams, Anna Magnani and Ludovico Visconti in a sun-blanched paean to the Italian New Wave. Dripping with cinematic chic, Castellani’s literary vision is a transporting experience.
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£25.00
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Rescuing these extraordinary siblings from the shadow of the more famous Mitfords, Sarah Watling traces the four sisters journeys through the 20th century. She uncovers an allure capable of bewitching literary titans, coupled with a broad array of professional and cultural achievement remarkable for the age in which these women lived. Inspiring and intoxicating reading.
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£8.99
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Questions of guilt and empathy are raised in this intelligent and affecting book that deals with the fallout of war and the thorny issue of culpability. In a decadent, bombed out Berlin, itself a key character to the narrative, both victors and vanquished are forced to make life-changing decisions.
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£16.99
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Revelling unabashedly in hedonism and excess, the characters in City of Girls are bursting with life and vigour. Vivian is seamstress to the showgirls of a revue bar in 1940s Manhattan, throwing herself in to the glamour of her new life with wild abandon. But there are dangerous choices to make and different identities to craft if she wants to survive in wartime New York.

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£9.99
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Few bathing ponds are frequented by as many renowned writers as the Kenwood Ladies, by Hampstead Heath. This unashamedly indulgent collection of essays paints an idyllic picture of a little spot of pastoral paradise in the heart of the big city. A wonderful book to dive in to on a hot summer’s day.
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£9.99
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A luxuriant story of art, glamour and celebrity that spans the twentieth century, Mackerell’s divinely decadent volume spotlights the abandoned Palazzo Venier and the trio of remarkable women who reinvigorated its faded Venetian grandeur with bohemian sparkle.
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£8.99
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Phyllis Forrester - genteel, privileged, naïve - is pulled into a web of pre-WWII fascist sympathy in Connolly’s engrossing evocation of a turbulent political era. Grounded by impeccable research, After the Party is virtuoso storytelling with precision and bite.
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£8.99
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At once an intimate portrait of one man's life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the twentieth century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain's best loved storytellers. A tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away.
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Sebba collects testimonies from a wide range of Parisiennes who were forced to choose between resistance and collaboration during the Nazi occupation of the French capital. Illuminating and adroitly structured, Les Parisiennes shines a light on women’s roles in wartime and the quiet heroism of female strength.
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£8.99
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A stunning account of one man’s monumental hubris and social self-immolation, Swan Song details the life of Truman Capote and his ‘swans,’ the glamorous socialites whose secrets he callously betrays. Greenberg-Jephcott’s fragmented narrative reflects the psychological fissures of its endlessly fascinating protagonist.
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£12.99
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Shimmering with Jazz Age glitter, Scharer’s enthralling debut documents the stormy affair between two leading lights of interwar photography, Lee Miller and Man Ray. Fizzing with period detail and emotional fireworks, The Age of Light is an enchanting exercise in elegant escapism.
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Abbs’ retells the neglected story of Frieda von Richthofen and her influential yet tempestuous marriage to DH Lawrence. A beautifully realised portrait of a singular woman that speaks to the tensions and complexities of modern feminism, Frieda is a book bursting with life and spirit.
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Heart-breaking and evocative, Call Me By Your Name chronicles the sexual awakening of seventeen-year-old Elio at the hands of the experienced Oliver in the warmth of the Italian Riviera.
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£20.00
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De Courcy’s riveting account of life in the bohemian bubble of the wartime Cote d’Azur pulls off a delicate balancing act, between revelling in high glamour and exposing the hardship and suffering of the French people under Nazi Occupation. Straddling both milieus is the controversial Coco Chanel, impossibly chic and prodigiously gifted, yet seemingly immune to the agonies of others.

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