by Camilla Leask
From thrilling page turners to curious social content, our expert in the field Camilla Leask brings us the best, can't put down books of this season. Holiday or no holiday, these are your must reads...
By the pool:
HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW? by Holly Bourne:
Holly Bourne's first foray into adult fiction will make you smile and squirm in equal measures at the sharply observed story of Tori Bailey, a 31-year old bestselling author of self-help memoir, 'Who The F*** Am I?'. To her legions of fans around the world, Tori seems to have life sussed. She’s a TED talk highlight, a festival headliner and her motivational social media posts attract thousands of likes. But scratch at Tori's coiffed veneer and she starts to unravel. Her friends are all settling down and procreating, it's five years since her bestselling book published and she's in the grip of writer's block, and her six-year relationship with Tom is, frankly, rotten to the core. The book highlights the marked difference between fabulous online personas versus the regularity of everyday life. And through some truly cringey, alarmingly familiar scenes, Tori reassesses who the f*** she really is.
ALSO - On my book pile: The Tall Man, a creepy thriller that might make you shiver, even in this heat. I'm half way through and intrigued.
SOCIAL CREATURE by Tara Isabella Burton:
Social Creature is a clever and sophisticated page-turner in which social media plays a pivotal road, alongside some seriously creepy characters. 28-year old aspiring writer Louise just about makes ends meet in New York through a series of poorly paid jobs to cover the rent in a dodgy part of town. Then one day she meets Lavinia, a beautiful 22-year-old trustifarian who leads a charmed and hedonistic life, which she insists on sharing with Louise. Methodically, Louise makes herself indispensable to Lavinia, sharing her apartment, clothes, friends and lifestyle. Both of their pasts creep up on them until we are left, jaw on the floor, questioning who each girl really is. It's a gripping, dark story - think The Talented Mr Ripley meets The Secret History.
SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Catherine Steadman
This fast-paced, elaborate thriller grabs you on page one and keeps you on the edge of your seat (or lounger?), whisking the reader from London to the South Pacific, Geneva and back again. Budding documentary filmmaker Erin and her banking fiance Mark appear to have it all until Mark loses his job and cracks begin to appear. On their lavish honeymoon in Bora Bora, Mark takes Erin scuba diving and they discover something in the water that will change their lives forever. Written from Erin's beguilingly honest viewpoint, author Catherine Steadman slowly, cleverly makes you question exactly who you can trust, right up until the final chapter. Vivid and engrossing, the book reads like an action movie, which is no surprise given the hugely talented Steadman's acting credentials, best known for her roles in Downton and Tutankhamun.
On my book pile: the hotly-tipped Suicide Club by Rachel Heng (Sceptre, HB £12.00)
PUTNEY by Sofka Zinovieff:
This highly acclaimed book does not disappoint - what starts off as a seemingly sun-kissed romance in the 1970s morphs into a tricky, thought-provoking read that questions the boundaries between love, consent and child abuse. Up-and-coming composer Ralph visits acclaimed musician Edmund Greenslay to discuss a collaboration at his colourful home in south-west London. As he walks through the door, Ralph meets Edmund's only daughter Daphne, and falls head over heels in love. So far so sweet. But Ralph is 25 and Daphne just nine years old. Masterfully, Zinovieff sweeps us through the '70s and alongside Ralph and Daphne's burgeoning relationship until a pivotal moment in Greece, where the reader is jolted into realising how utterly wrong the now-sexual relationship is. Decades later Daphne is forced to confront the truth of her childhood and to untangle her own understanding of consent and child abuse. This brilliant novel is not a comfortable read but it is an important one, particularly in the age of #MeToo.
On my wish-list: Testament by Kim Sherwood, Quercus £14.99