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The best ‘holiday’ reads for lockdown

Okay, 'holiday' might be stretching it - but these books are certainly providing us with welcome escapism during lockdown! Here are the latest releases the Muddy editors are reading in the back garden with a cocktail.

Editor-in-Chief Hero is reading… The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

Is there anything more fun as a magazine journalist than reading juicy behind-the-scenes gossip about the fashion elite? If there is, I haven’t found it. If you devoured the Vogue documentary The September Issue like I did, then you’ll likely love this autobiography from fashion editor supreme André Leon Talley, which documents his life and career in the fashion world (and most notably, his fraught relationship with Anna Wintour). It’s by turns philosophical and bitchy, and just the thing to transport you to the golden age of magazines. 

Hero is also reading… The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel 

The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel

Okay, this one is cheating as I’ve technically already read it, but it’s the kind of book that sticks in your head and makes you want to re-read – I’m thinking of nicking my copy back off my mother so I can do it all again. I was a massive fan of the first two books in the Wolf Hall series, and this is an excellent ending to the triology (although much harder going, in my experience). It’s hefty too, at over 800 pages, so there should be enough to keep you going here until the end of lockdown. 

Norfolk Editor Helen is reading… F***ed at 40: Life beyond Suburbia, Monogamy and Stretch Marks by Tova Leigh

F***ed at 40: Life beyond Suburbia, Monogamy and Stretch Marks by Tova Leigh

For any 40+ women feeling over/under whelmed by life, this honest and raw account of middle age is an identifying read. Tova has some funny yet valid obervations on love, body image, parenting and sexuality. Open marriage anyone? I’ve left it on the other half’s bedside table for a little enlightenment. It’s a total binge read and if you’re left wanting more – check out her satirical TikTok videos and Tova News on instagram. 

Northants editor Emma is reading… Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

You can’t get much more famous than Hamlet, but how much do you know about Hamnet, Shakespeare’s son, who died at just 11 years old? Maggie O’Farrell’s novel is a fictional reimagining of the life of Hamnet and his mother Agnes (Anne Hathaway’s real name). The characters and setting of 16th century Stratford-upon-Avon are so richly drawn that you’ll be completely swept away. Warning: you might also shed a little tear.


Emma is also reading… Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

If you want a book that is going to make you feel uplifted and inspired while also being a totally unputdownable page-turner, then This could be it. Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other is like a kitchen sink drama, but with more life, smartee humour and better clothes; a slicing open of British attitudes towards race and gender but without being didactic or dull. Bernadine Evaristo has a fresh, ambitious style and you’ll be left feeling invigorated when you finally put it down. 

Berkshire editor Rachel is reading… So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter 

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

For me, a stonking holiday read has three things: great characters, filthy humour and a plot so immersive you never want to put it down. So Lucky ticks all the boxes. Dawn O’Porter’s second novel, this Sunday Times bestseller tells the story of three women, Lauren, Beth and Ruth, who on the surface have it all. As we poke around their lives, we discover perfection is as illusive for them as it is for the rest of us – each wrestling with their own demons. It’s only when Lauren, Beth and Ruth’s worlds collide that it goes full-blown badass. If you enjoyed The Cows, you’ll LOVE this book. Timely, funny and very entertaining, it’s bubblier than a glass of pink Champagne. In fact, garçon, pour me another.

Herts & Beds editor Sophie is reading… Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent

If you didn’t know it already then let me fill you in at once – gardening, once the preserve of pensioners and allotment fanatics, is now officially cool. Very cool. And with 30k+ Instagram followers, urban gardener Alice Vincent, or @noughticulture, is at the forefront of this green revolution. Her second book, Rootbound, tells of her experiences with all things green, and, specifically, how planting helped Alice find stability and happiness in a chaotic world.

Warwickshire editor Catherine is reading Welcome to America by Linda Knausgard

Nothing like an illuminating real-life Scandi family drama to intensify your summer! Linda Bostrom Knausgard is done with being a character in someone else’s book – namely, her very famous ex’s (best-selling Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgard, whose scandalous 6-part epic My Struggle described his life—including his marriage in unflattering detail). This, her second novel, draws from her own childhood in Stockholm – and it’s a short, sharp and pithy read (only 124 pages). Written from 11-year-old Ellen’s perspective if follows her decision to stop speaking after the death of her bi-polar father while living with her self-absorbed actress mother, and older brother. Yup it deals with disconnected family and grief – but as one reviewer accurately put it, it’s told with ‘the unsentimental self-pity of existentialist female writers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Sylvia Plath’. It might sound a bit heavy for a sunbed, but on the bright side lockdown is likely to feel like a breeze afterwards…

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