Vivienne Westwood for the Cambridge Satchel Company. Nice present for someone old enough to remember Viv’s orginal Pirates collection. Available from Cambridge Satchel Co’s Covent Garden and Cambridge stores, limited edition, from £170.
Poor old blog, I’ll do it again in the autumn.
Also it feels quite cockish to say “Here, read this,” but I love book recommendations. So here, for anyone who vaguely shares my literary tastes, is what I’d Kindle to take on holiday, in no particular order.
1. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, which is charming and uplifting but not saccharine, crucially, and which made my hardest friend cry twice on the train and once in the car.
2. The Wicked Girls, by Alex Marwood. Not charming at all - about two girls who killed another child when they were children themselves. They are now adult women with new identities and new lives and one day, by a terrible quirk of fate, they meet again. “Unputdownable” is overused, but it really applies here. NB: not cheery.
3. Amexica, by Ed Vulliamy, because I loved Breaking Bad, and then by extension I started reading up on Mexico and its drugs war, and then I got completely obsessed. Clear, gripping, and, terrifyingly, non-fiction. If you’d rather read about this in thriller form, see The Power of The Dog, by Don Winslow.
4. Capital, by John Lanchester, because it’s genius and because it’s the closest we’ll get to The Big London Novel.
5. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton. Shapton is brilliant and polymathic - she’s a fantastic artist (*and* she did the jacket for my last novel) and also wrote a small masterpiece with a very long title, which took the form of an auction catalogue (buy that too; it’s amazing, but it won’t work on a Kindle - you need the physical book). She just writes beautifully, in this instance “about” her swimming-champion past, except it’s about everything.
6. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, which I blogged about aaaaaages ago and which gratifyingly went on the win the Orange Prize. You may think you don’t especially want to read about Greek mythology, but you’d be wrong. Aside from anything else, beautiful love story.
7. State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. This also deserved to win the Orange. It is deeply, deeply weird as well as GREAT, and will stay in your head for ages after you finish reading. It’s about a doctor turned Big Pharma researcher who heads off into the jungle to find out about a new fertility drug and the people who discovered it. It would take me two paragraphs to explain it properly, and it would sound really mad - just read it. Poisonwood Bible sort of vibe - you feel a bit suffocated as you turn the pages- but very much its own peculiar-genius thing.
8. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Both a brilliant thriller and a brilliant description of the breakdown of a marriage and of the games men and (the nuttier) women play, brilliantly written. Up til 3am job.
9. I read this last summer, but if you haven’t found your way to A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, then, God, HURRY UP AND READ IT.
Dunno how fast you read but that should do for now. I’m also taking Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which I haven’t yet read but which everyone whose taste I trust is raving about; Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (although tbh I doubt I’ll ever love anything, not even Wolf Hall, as much as I loved A Place of Greater Safety, which actually I might have to re-read); and I’m going to be the last woman in the world to read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, who is the Bernard Levin of “romantic fiction”. Oh, and Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussman, which is another one everyone’s raving about. And Cold Hands by John J Niven - his first thriller - because I love everything he writes.
Very subjective list, obv, and I’ve hardly read any fiction that’s not a thriller this year, due to writing my own book and not wanting to feel accidentally “inspired”, but if you’re wandering about Waterstones feeling overwhelmed, I hope this helps.
Fantastic historical mugs from Cole of London - portait on the front, relevant dates on the back. Bone china, hand-decorated in Stoke on Trent. There’s also a Writers series, and a London one. Last order date, December 19.
For babies 0-9 months: lobster hat and mittens from Luna and Curious. Not cheap, mind. But: LOBSTER.