Great Summer Reads

The popular Dundrum branch of Hughes & Hughes has reopened its doors and savvy member of staff, Chris Mills, has kindly provided these summer reading recommendations. The store has lots of great books for your delectation.

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
 
Gaile Parkin’s first book is set in Rwanda, where Angel Tungaraza is a celebration cake maker. As she deals with her customers and designs cakes for their celebrations she hears their stories and becomes involved in their lives. The lives of the people in her apartment block become part of her own life. Angel listens to problems and makes strong bonds with neighbours, such as Amina, who become her friends. She and her husband Pius have had their own sadness back in their native Tanzania. Now they are left to bring up five grandchildren after the deaths of their two children. This is a story which celebrates love and friendship. It is no merely sentimental tale, but an emotionally complex and satisfying read, with characters that you come to care about.
 
 
Enchantment – The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto
 
Even if you are not a devoted Hepburn fan, this is a great film biography. Her life spanned wartime deprivation in Europe; then fame, award ceremonies, lovers and husbands, and of course those fabulous dresses. This is a well researched and well written biography of an actress whose iconic status remains undiminished. Spoto’s book is as involving as a novel and gets behind the Hollywood scenes for a thoroughly enjoyable read. He also writes of Hepburn’s later career as a Special Ambassador for UNICEF which she took very seriously despite her own failing health. The book is well illustrated with photos from her early life and plenty of film stills.
 
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
 
A detective with a difference – Erast Fandorin is a new recruit to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Moscow. The Guardian said of this one, ‘Think Tolstoy writing James Bond with the logical rigor of Sherlock Holmes. A hoot’. That just about says it all I think. Well all that is, except for the fact that Fandorin has a penchant for disguises and various deadly arts. He also has a devoted assistant in his perilous adventures. This proves to just as well as he becomes involved in all sorts of hair raising exploits in the service of Mother Russia. Naturally there is also love, passion and a mysterious, beautiful, dangerous woman in amongst all the skulduggery. But fear not, Erast Fandorin will save the day and even return for further investigations.
 
 
Other People’s Husbands by Judy Astley
 
If you feel like reading a witty, romantic bit of escapism then give this latest one from Judy Astley a try. Sara married Conrad, a sexy famous painter twenty five older than her, while she was still a student. Her mother (naturally) told her not to. Several years later, Sara is being charmed by Ben one of her students from the Adult Education Centre. Meanwhile Conrad has begun to plan to die before her gets old and decrepit, as retiring to play golf is really not an option. Was Sara’s mother right after all? This is humour with a touch of black, along with romance and artistic mid life crisis. But don’t worry, all’s well that ends well.

Dance with Wings by Amelia Carr
 
This is a story of two lives and two generations – Sarah’s and her grandmother Nancy’s. It is a compelling family drama moving from World War II to the twenty first century. Nancy was one of the courageous band of women pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary doing their ‘bit’ for the Allied forces. The author has done much background research and she has woven into her engrossing story real life events. Family secrets and war time love and romance make for a satisfying story. Sarah gradually comes to learn more of her grandmother’s hidden past and as she does so she changes the course of her own life. But I won’t spoil the ending. One to wallow in on holiday – well worth a read. The feel of the war period is convincing and it’s nice to see women’s war time exploits being given centre stage.

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