If you’re anything like me, lockdown is likely to be taking its toll on your mental wellbeing. For me, being stuck inside, with little to no access to family and friends is extremely difficult, while having all my future plans cancelled is somewhat excruciating. I’m counting down the days until I can drink warm cider in the sun, listening to my favourite bands with my besties.
Until then, however, I’ve been taking solace in books, which allow me to escape to new and improved worlds. With this in mind, I thought I’d draft a post recommending some of my favourite escapist reads in the hope they can do the same for others.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (full review available here)
Brief overview: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way…
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an astounding storyteller and I cannot recommend her books highly enough. Evelyn Hugo is a wonderful story that transports the reader to the golden days of Hollywood, rich with glamour, excitement and scandal. As you follow Evelyn from very humble beginnings to Oscar victory and beyond, her portrayal of love, loss and everything in between is utterly captivating.
Despite the obvious glamour and seductiveness of the story, Reid doesn’t shy away from hard-hitting topics, tackling issues around monogamy, domestic abuse and sexual orientation, all of which were all brought to the forefront of the story and handled carefully and sensitivity. I adored Reid’s intricate character development, which often left me completely conflicted – I loved and loathed Evelyn at the same time, among several other characters. An utterly divine read from start to finish!
An Eligible Bachelor by Veronica Henry
Brief Overview: When Guy wakes up with a terrible hangover and a new fiancée, he tries not to panic. After all, Richenda Fox is beautiful, famous and successful. What reason could he have for doubts? As news of the engagement between the heir of Eversleigh Manor and the darling of prime-time television spreads, Guy wonders if he’s made a rash decision. Especially when he meets Honor, who has a habit of getting under his skin. But Honor has her own troubles – a son who’s missing a father and an ex who’s made an unexpected reappearance…
I’ve recently finished The Eligible Bachelor and if I were to describe it in one word, I’d say joyous. It’s such a feel-good read that provided the perfect lockdown escape for me when I really needed it. Veronica Henry’s lifestyle fiction is always fun, exuberant and heart-warming and I’ve become a huge fan of her work over the last few years. An Eligible Bachelor combines loveable characters with a beautiful village setting and just enough twists and turns to keep you hooked. A book I’d definitely recommend if you want to transport to someplace beautiful.
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
Brief overview: Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it. Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much. Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets. In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?
I’m a huge Marian Keyes fan and her latest book, Grown Ups is an absolute joy. In parts hilarious and, at other times, deeply moving, Marian’s signature style of tackling hard-hitting subjects with grace and humour prevails in this latest offering. I actually listened to the audiobook of Grown Ups after it was recommended by a friend and, with it being read by Marian herself, it was beautiful to listen to.
Grown-Ups perfectly represents those awkward family dynamics, whereby you have a rich one, a successful one, the perfect home-maker etc. The Casey’s are witty, caring, complex and entirely dysfunctional in so many ways, but I couldn’t help but love them. Listening to their story in Marian’s gorgeous Irish accent was a joy, and I genuinely felt like I’d escaped into their world. There’s so many characters and an awful lot going on, but once you’ve got your head around who’s who, it’s a brilliant story!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Script by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
Brief overview: It was always difficult for Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now he’s an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and a father of three children. While Harry grapples with a past that refused to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.
I put this book on the list because who doesn’t want to go back to Hogwarts every chance they get? If you’re like me and have read the Harry Potter series more times than you care to count, then reading the Cursed Child is another great way to escape back into the Wizarding World. Let’s face it, it’s where we’d all rather be!