I once tried to read Orhan Pamuk’s Snow on holiday in Southern Italy. In August. It was too hot to move. All I could do was lie in the shade and, when that got too much, cool off by jumping into the swimming pool. Yet my holiday reading was set in a Turkish city in the grip of a mighty blizzard.
I now know better. The best summer reading needs some kind of seasonal link. Here are a few of my tried and tested favourite summer fictions, each read several times. Not for children, these are strictly grown-up fare. I don’t really do ‘lite’, even in the highest temperatures.
An English seaside town between the wars. Love and lust and religion, duty and – quite frankly – madness all boil over, fuelled by the endless summer heat. Inimitable Gardam.
Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver (2000)
A familiar Kingsolver theme – humans’ interactions with nature and each other, positive or destructive, always complicated. Moths, coyotes, apples, bees, love and death, all observed throughout a lush season.
Hot hot hot. Tension ratchets up as the temperature keeps rising in Hartley’s classic story of a child caught up in adult manoeuvres.
A Room With A View – E M Forster (1908)
This awkward love story never fails me. And for once the film version did not spoil my imaginings, but added pictures and a Puccini sound track. There’s also a wicked lady novelist!
Part 2 of Summer Reading will look at novels which look at people on their summer holidays. Reader, know thyself.