Summer months mean more daylight hours for reading. The perfect time to catch up on our ever growing TBR piles and 2022 releases. The Willoughby team have been really enjoying the nice weather and the the many books we have devoured this month. Here are some of the stand outs!
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
This book begins in a familiar, Edwardian fiction manner, but gradually sparks magic to become a roguish tale of finding freedom in a most unexpected way.
Laura Willowes is the beloved daughter of Everard Willowes, and following her father’s death her life follows a path of dutiful maiden aunt to the younger members of the family. As she ages, she takes a bold step out of a life proscribed by others, and moves to the countryside.
An instant hit on publication in 1926 and a precursor to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own this remains a lovely and magical story of gentle defiance and following your own path. It also contains beautiful and lyrical writing about the countryside and seasons, and has a rather dreamlike quality which adds to its charm.
Other Peoples Clothes by Calla Henkel
This is the most fun thing I’ve read so far this year! It’s clever, creepy, snarky and queer. Two American art students, Zoe and Hailey, are living in Berlin for a year in 2009. Zoe is still reeling from the death of her best friend back in Florida, while Hailey is obsessed with celebrity culture and the Amanda Knox case. They rent an apartment belonging to an enigmatic crime author, who is attending a writing retreat in Vienna. The girls spend their days and nights partying with friends, taking drugs and trying to stay warm in their lofty, chic apartment. Soon they realise that they are being secretly watched and a cat-and-mouse game ensues. The two figure that, if the writer wants inspiration for her latest novel, they intend to make it something worth reading!
Part paranoia- fuelled thriller, part artsy meta-critique of fame and success, this was such an entertaining story and I would recommend it to anyone interested in twisty, millennial female friendships, propulsive and original writing, as well as early noughties nostalgia.
Girl A by Abigail Dean
I was completely absorbed in this book from the start. A thriller about a girl who escaped her ‘house of horrors’ family home when she was 15. I enjoyed how the story was told from different timelines and I was grateful that the abuse was never fully described…you could definitely imagine it though but at least you didn’t have to see it in writing.
I do feel that Ethans level of involvement was never fully revealed and the reasons why he was treated differently to the other children.
I finished this book in a couple days, a definite 5 star read.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
It’s 1915 and Eve is desperate to be recruited as a spy for WW1. She leaves nothing behind and speaks three languages making her the perfect recruit. She gets enlisted into the British spy network alongside other brave but non-assuming women who can slip past the net and find out important information.
The story then flicks to 1947, where we meet Charlie St Claire who is searching for a cousin, thought to be lost to the War. She meets Eve along the way who now turns to whiskey to get through her days. The forge a strong connection and embark upon a journey to find answers and to find their revenge.
I’ve been longing to read a Kate Quinn book and I’m so glad I started with the Alice Network. It blew me away!
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Ollie and Will spend the summer falling in love and they’re sad to say goodbye at the end of the holidays.
A very sad family emergency causes Ollie to move half-way across the country and ends up as the new kid at Will’s school!
With Will ignoring him and only one of them out, how well will the school year go?
This slight re-telling of Grease is full of drama, friendship, tears and of course love!
As it’s told from Ollie’s point of view, I instantly fell in love with him and wanted him to get his happy ending. I laughed and cried through this book and read it in one sitting!