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Five Summer Reads

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Susan, Hespeler | July 3, 2017

Summer is often a time to evaluate our “To Be Read” list and explore new authors, new genres and new ideas. This year I’m going to visit new works by some authors that I used to love, but which have slipped off my reading list the past few years. Most years, I try to read (or re-read) at least one classic, but I also like to try something new – that book that I know nothing about, but which just jumps into my lap and screams “Read me!”

This year’s find, I think, is Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal. Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t erotic fiction but rather a sensitive portrayal of an often overlooked group: A class of barely-literate women who nevertheless have interesting stories to share. I have high hopes for this one, in which a young teacher expects to teach a course in creative writing, but ends up enjoying the camaraderie of her students. Before long, however, she realizes that they might be in danger, as she uncovers some dark secrets in the community.

My classic read this year is Beloved, by Toni Morrison, and for once I’ll be reading the book after I’ve watched the movie. Widely regarded as a masterpiece, Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women book coverBeloved book coverCourt of Lions book coverNot a Sound book coverCafe by the Sea book cover

Now for the writers I’m revisiting: Jane Johnson is an English author with strong ties to Morocco. I first came across her work when I read The Salt Road, a fast-paced romantic adventure which really brings to life the desert and its people. Her latest novel, Court of Lions, blends the contemporary with the historical, and the setting this time is the Alhambra Palace in 15th Century Granada, Spain. Exotic locations and ordinary people in extraordinary situations usually combine to produce a compelling read.

The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf, was one of my favourite reads of 2009, and I always intended to read more of her work. Not a Sound promises to have the same intensity and emotional suspense as her previous novels, as former nurse, Amelia, investigates the sudden death of a friend. Early reviews rate Amelia and her dog guide, Stitch, as wonderfully-drawn characters that quickly draw the reader in.

It’s been more than ten years since I read a book by Jenny Colgan, and she has really grown in popularity since then. Do You Remember the First Time (2004) was an entertaining look at how you might live your life differently if given the chance to go back. Colgan’s 2017 novel, The Café by the Sea, is more of a traditional summer read, promising humour, romance and delectably-described food. Definitely one for the beach.

There are so many books appearing on our shelves this summer that I’d love to immerse myself in them all, but choices must be made, and I’m hoping that these are good ones.