Summer reads for the holiday season | (2024)

If you’ve already read the new David Nicholls, bagged a copy of the latest Marian Keyes, or been leafing though the selection of World War Two books which mark the D-Day anniversary year, don’t worry – there are so many other great books to escape with this summer.

From beach-read romances to nail-biting thrillers, historical sagas and memorable memoirs, you’ll be able to while away the summer in another world, even if you’re staying at home.


Here’s just a taster of summer reads that might take your fancy.

Bad Tourists by Caro Carver (Bantam, July 4th)

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Already snapped up for a TV series, this hot debut is centred on three friends who head to the Maldives for an all-inclusive holiday, expecting sun, white sand beaches and a chance to put a traumatic event behind them. But what awaits them is a murderous revenge plot that no one saw coming. Or did they? Perfect to get temperatures rising by the poolside.


Precipice by Robert Harris (Hutchinson Heinemann, Aug 29th)

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Fans of this hugely popular author who brought us Fatherland, Munich and Act Of Oblivion should lap up this tale that mixes fact with fiction as is his trademark. It focuses on the story of Venetia Stanley, a young aristocrat and socialite who is having an affair with Prime Minister Asquith, as he leads the country into the Second World War. But when there’s a leak of top-secret documents, an intelligence officer discovers that the affair has become a matter of national security.

First Wife’s Shadow by Adele Parks (HQ, July 4th)


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The issue of living in the shadow of a previous wife comes to the fore in a twisty tale from this top author, as a whirlwind relationship between Emma, a career-driven, independent woman, and Matthew, a widower who says he believes in seizing the day, goes awry. Emma becomes obsessed with his late first wife – and then strange things start to happen.

Letters To Margaret: Confessions To My Late Wife by Hunter Davies (Head Of Zeus, Aug 15th)

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At the end of almost every day of their 55-year marriage, gregarious journalist and author Hunter Davies would be asked by his publicity-shy wife and fellow author Margaret Forster to describe the highlights of his day. In the years since her death, he has continued these conversations with her through a sequence of letters, chronicling the ups and downs of his life since her death – by turns confessional, gossipy, touching, funny and bittersweet.


A Poisoner’s Tale by Cathryn Kemp (Bantam, July 11th)

This atmospheric historical novel is set in an apothecary in the back streets of 17th-century Rome where women take their troubles. Step in female poisoner Giulia Tofana, who offers a deadly concoction to help these downtrodden souls murder their abusive husbands – but the Pope and his Holy Office are on her tail when the men start falling like flies.

Resurrection by Danielle Steel (Pan Macmillan, July 4th)

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The prolific million-copy bestselling author – she has another new book coming out later this summer and two in the autumn – brings fans a powerful saga of family, survival and hope. It centres on one of New York’s wealthiest and most influential families: Darcy Gray, a hugely successful blogger and influencer, her husband, Charlie, head of a fashion retail empire. When a shocking betrayal leaves Darcy reeling, she flees to Paris, where lockdown begins because of a dangerous new virus, and takes refuge at the home of a retired actress and a handsome, enigmatic fellow lodger.

All The Colours Of The Dark by Chris Whitaker (Orion, July 16th)


With endorsem*nts from the likes of Bonnie Garmus, of Lessons In Chemistry fame, Gillian Flynn and Erin Kelly, this sweeping new novel from the author of the bestselling We Begin At The End opens with a teenage boy who goes missing and throws into the mix a serial killer thriller and an epic love story.

Eighteen by Alice Loxton (Macmillan, August 15th)

The bestselling author and social media sensation offers a fascinating new history of Britain, told through 18 figures in British history at the age of 18. From a young Elizabeth Tudor, the orphan facing deadly intrigue at court, to a teenage Richard Burton, the rugby-obsessed son of a Welsh miner, historian Loxton explores Britain’s past through the lives of 18 figures at this crucial age.

Breaking The Dark by Lisa Jewell (Century, July 4th)

Top novelist Jewell launches the new Marvel Crime series with an original story of Jessica Jones, a private investigator and retired super hero in Manhattan, who takes up the case of a wealthy woman who says her twin 16-year-olds have returned from holiday looking strangely different and acting peculiarly, after spending the summer with their British father in the UK.


Long Island Compromise by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Wildfire, July 9th)

This literary tragi-comic saga follows the ups and downs of a wealthy American Jewish family and the emotional turmoil that results from the random kidnapping of its patriarch in 1980. He is eventually released and returns to his home in Long Island, but the story unfolds to reveal how the trauma has manifested itself in each family member.

Apprentice To The Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer (Penguin, August 8th)

Bestselling author and top Booktoker Maehrer brings us the second book in the spicy fantasy romance series trilogy (after the first, Assistant To The Villain). In the latest instalment we find a happy Evie Sage, assistant to The Villain, facing her greatest challenge to protect all his nefarious works and learning new skills including treason, dagger work and conspiring with the enemy – and ready to become his apprentice. It’s quirky, humorous and will make you see baddies in a different light.

Looked After: A Childhood In Care by Ashley John-Baptiste (Hodder, June 13th)

The award-winning BBC presenter and journalist, a regular on The One Show, charts his childhood in care in this heartfelt memoir, how he experienced five different foster placements before he was 18 and how he has come out the other side as a loving husband and father with a successful career.


House of Glass by Sarah Pekkanen (Orion, August 8th)

Bestselling author of eight solo novels and co-author of The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl brings us this taut psychological thriller in which an eight-year-old refuses to talk about the shocking death of her nanny in the middle of her parents’ divorce. Her attorney tries to help her speak, to find out what really happened, and soon discovers the secrets of the family and the fact that everybody remains a suspect in the nanny’s murder.

How To Age Disgracefully by Clare Pooley (Bantam, June 20th)

Pooley’s dark memoir, The Sober Diaries, which charted her drinking years, first gained her attention, while her debut novel, The Authenticity Project, won awards and has been translated into 29 languages. In the latest, she focuses on Daphne, 70, and her little gang of rebel friends who set out not to become invisible anymore when the council threatens to close their local senior citizen’s club.

The Life Impossible by Matt Haig (Canongate, August 29th)

If you’re taking a late summer break you might just squeeze this one into your suitcase. It centres on a retired maths teacher who is left a rundown house in Ibiza by an old friend, and goes there to try to find out what happened to her friend and how her life ended.

Whole Life Sentence by Lynda La Plante (Zaffre, July 4th)

So, our most famous female detective, Jane Tennison, is being sent on her Prime Suspect way, with La Plante’s final Tennison crime instalment. The final book ends where Prime Suspect begins, with Jane leading the murder squad and their hunt for a serial killer. Getting to know ‘young Jane’ has been a 10-year endeavour for La Plante, who says that reaching the final is quite sad having lived with a character she’s taken from just 21 through to her late 30s.

Eddie Winston Is Looking For Love by Marianne Cronin (Doubleday, August 15th)

Anyone who enjoyed Cronin’s uplifting debut novel, The One Hundred Years Of Lenni And Margot, should lap up this tale of Eddie Winston, a 90-year-old who has lived and loved but never been kissed. Working at his local charity shop, he comes across a stack of unsent love letters with a mystery attached – and finds love and adventure in unexpected places.

Summer reads for the holiday season | (2024)
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