From Heartache to the Heartwarming
Presenting Our Books of the Month for June
The 2012 passing of Nora Ephron robbed the world not only of a wise and talented filmmaker, but a novelist too. Tragically, 1983’s Heartburn will forever remain her only take on the form, but what a take it is: pick it up to read a few pages and you’ll be sitting there an hour later, thrilled by her effervescent wit and sheer love of life. June brings other treats too, including a voice some are declaring noir’s Elena Ferrante. Read on…
Fiction Book of the Month
‘Everything is copy.’ The breakdown of the late Nora Ephron’s own marriage proved the perfect fuel for the hilarious, whip-smart revenge that is Heartburn, her only novel. Food writer Rachel Samstat – mother to one child, pregnant with another – is floored by the stinging discovery of her husband’s affair with a mutual friend. Ephron turns tragedy to comedic gold as Rachel grabs the full absurdity of her husband’s betrayal and seeks out the perfect retribution.
Non-Fiction Book of the Month
Germany, between the wars. Its natural beauty and cultural achievement proves a draw for many, but tourism gives way to witness in the deepening shadow of National Socialism. From diplomats to artists, writers to students, Julia Boyd presents a compelling composite of first-hand accounts, describing how a nation slid into tyranny. Filled with anecdotal detail and framed against the Europe of today, Travellers in the Third Reich asks a deeply sobering question: do we recognise evil when it comes?
Thriller of the Month
Coming of age meets a growing, nuanced dread in Elena Varvello’s accomplished debut. Summer, Italy, 1978: one child is dead, another is missing. For Elia, a teenager with one tentative foot in adulthood, life is taking a dark turn as his father’s behaviour grows ever more erratic. Caught between his mother’s naivety and the creeping understanding of the horror enveloping him, Elia’s plight draws deeply from Varvello’s own childhood experience.
Children's Book of the Month
Cymbeline Igloo: an ordinary boy on a special quest to understand the truth. When non-swimmer Cymbeline has to be rescued from a swimming pool, the incident puzzlingly results in his own traumatised mother being sent to hospital. Gradually, Cymbeline begins to understand that something – something big – is being kept hidden. But what? Unafraid to address the sometimes difficult themes that can affect families, Boy Underwater combines proper laughs with a child’s moving unpicking of his past. Sensitively illustrated by picture book superstar Benji Davies.
Scottish Book of the Month
Richard Hannay, John Buchan’s redoubtable hero of The Thirty-Nine Steps returns to do battle with the Nazi menace. Paris in 1940 is his target, the potential location of a captured spy who holds the key to Europe. Ahead lies miles of treacherous French battlefields and a legion of enemies bent on Hannay’s failure. Fortunately, with his network of old friends to hand and cunning to spare, Buchan’s timeless creation marvellously triumphs again in Robert J. Harris’s affectionate, well-crafted romp.