Bookworm - Summer reading 2017

Whether it’s a favourite paperback or a new release on Kindle, we all love a good read - especially on holiday! Here’s what you’ve been enjoying recently.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep  
by Joanna Cannon (£7.99, The Borough Press) 

Remember the heatwave of 1976? This book brought back so many happy memories for me of that blisteringly hot summer, including the hosepipe ban and the mahogany-brown suntan I was so proud to show off! The story is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old child, whose innocent charm reminded me, at times, of Hayley Mills in Whistle Down the Wind. But there was a lot more to this story than that.

H Brinley, Wiltshire

The Witches: Salem, 1692 
by Stacy Schiff (£9.99, Orion Books) 

Like many people, I was already familiar with the story of the Salem witch hunts, or at least I thought I was. But this account offers a different perspective. For a start, the scale of the witch hunts was far greater than I’d imagined (there were 700 reports of witches flying around Massachusetts, not simply a handful of hysterical girls). This fascinating book by American historian Stacy Schiff sheds light on the confusion and mass hysteria it created, which led to 400 people being accused of witchcraft, and the execution of 14 women, five men and two dogs. Thoroughly engrossing. 

M Williams, Swansea

The Muse   
by Jessie Burton (£8.99, Picador) 

The story begins in London during 1967 and is told from the point of view of a young girl who arrived from Trinidad five years earlier and worked in a Dolcis shoe shop. The author later weaves in another story, set in a village in Spain in 1936, about a young girl who dreams of being an artist. The two stories begin to merge until the reader starts to understand why they are relevant to each other. The plot is refreshingly different, filled with cliffhangers, and the characters are rounded and flawed. It lives up to The Miniaturist, her first book. 

C Alleyn, Berkshire 

Beside Myself  
by Ann Morgan (£7.99, Bloomsbury) 

At first I didn’t believe that the plot of this book was sustainable or even remotely believable. The premise that six-year-old identical twins could somehow swap places – permanently – without any adult being able to spot the difference, seemed unlikely at best. However, I was curious enough to start reading, and what a treat it turned out to be. Compelling and thought- provoking, the story follows the twins’ lives from the age of six to 25, revealing the long- term effects of this identity swap and giving an insight into mental health issues. It’s a dark and unsettling story, but nevertheless a brilliant read.   

M Jacobs, Kent

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District  
by James Rebanks (£9.99, Penguin)

This autobiographical story begins with the author as a bored teenager who leaves school at 16 to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Lakeland farmer. Although he does eventually get a degree from Oxford University, he returns home to his flock and to write about life as a sheep farmer. He gives a lyrical and honest description of a typical year working in Matterdale. It’s a hard, frustrating and, at times, even brutal life.   

T Vincent, Somerset

Books Just Out 

Into the Water  
by Paula Hawkins (£20, Doubleday) 

Another gripping mystery thriller from the author of The Girl on the Train. A woman is found dead at the bottom of a river where a teenage girl also died earlier that year. Described as a story that investigates how ‘memories can be washed away and whole histories submerged’. 

Jane Austen at Home  
by Lucy Worsley (£25, Hodder & Stoughton) 

TV historian Lucy Worsley marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death by visiting her home and studying the rooms, spaces and possessions that meant the most to her. This fascinating book has already received much critical acclaim for the fresh insight it offers on the author and her work.