20 Great Fiction Books for the Beach and Beyond

1. Amusements, Aingeala Flannery

Before the advent of cheap flights and the coining of the word staycation, Irish people vacationed in places like Tramore, Co Waterford which had the added attraction of fairground rides, locally known as ‘amusements’. In this series of linked stories set in the seaside resort, Flannery draws on her own childhood experiences, capturing the idiosyncrasies of life in small town Ireland and the relationships and resentments that underlie it. . A good choice of book for summer reading.

2. Chemistry Lessons, Bonnie Garmus

Already the hit of word-of-mouth of the summer, this first novel by the 64-year-old former editor is being adapted into an Apple TV series. It follows the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Zott, a scientist working in a male-dominated field in 1960s America, who becomes an accidental celebrity. Funny and moving, it is full of insightful insights into the challenges women face in their attempts to achieve equality. The one that will appeal to fans of Katherine Heiny and Curtis Sittenfeld.

3. Book lovers, Emily Henry

Henry’s bright neon book covers the cry of the sun and escape. The BookTok rom-com author You and Me on Vacation has quickly built up a fan base with his clever take on modern relationships. Her latest novel, a romance between lovers set in a North Carolina town, is executed with aplomb.

4. What Eden Did Next, Sheila Flanagan

Flanagan’s books are an Irish summer staple – in the latest book from the doyen of commercial fiction, the titular protagonist faces resistance from her in-laws when she tries to move on five years on. the death of her firefighter husband.

5. Murder Before Evening Song: A Mystery of Canon Clement, Richard Coles

We have Richard Osman and the phenomenal success of his Thursday Murder Club to thank for the new kind of “comfortable crime” that is doing a roaring business. The latest promoter is pop star-turned-vicar Richard Coles, whose crime-fighting canon Daniel Clement uncovers long-buried secrets in his parish.

6. Take My Hand, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Based on true events, this gripping novel tells the story of a nurse at a family planning clinic in 1970s Alabama who pays the price when she takes a stand against a racist eugenics health policy. A breathtaking book, both heartbreaking and full of suspense.

LR: The cover of the new John Grisham; Ardal O’Hanlon

7. Training partners, John Grisham

Grisham pioneered the tense legal thriller with classics such as The Firm and The Pelican Brief. His latest includes three different novels, the first of which, Homecoming, features the return of Jake Brigance who is called upon when a disgraced friend goes missing. In the second, Strawberry Moon, a youth on death row is against time, with an execution just hours away. In the title story, lawyer brothers Kirk and Rusty Malloy must overcome their differences to save their father’s business.

8. Life Ahead, Róisín Meaney

The Limerick-based author has built up a devoted fan base with her charming novels. in his last, George and Alice are both holding on for love, now all they have to do is find each other. The perfect companion for a day on the deckchair.

9. The Art of Losing, Alice Zeniter, translated by Frank Wynne

Originally published in France in 2017, this translation by Irishman Frank Wynne won the prestigious Dublin Literary Award, which is chosen from among nominated books by libraries around the world. From the 1950s to the present day, it follows three generations of an Algerian family whose life is haunted by war.

10. Yell Sam, While You Still Can, by Maylis Besserie, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin

Another book by a French writer brought to the attention of a wider audience by an Irish translator, this first was awarded the Goncourt prize. The first part of a planned “Irish trilogy”, it is an extremely impressive mixture of reality and fiction that reinvents Samuel Beckett’s last months in a Parisian retirement home.

11. Brouhaha, Ardal O’Hanlon

Almost 25 years after his debut novel Talk of the Town, the comedian and actor is back with an original murder mystery set in a border county, drawing inspiration from his own upbringing in the Monaghan town of Carrickmacross.

12. Ceremony of Life, Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Next month, here’s a collection of 12 short stories from the Japanese author of the gloriously weird Convenience Store Woman. Published in English for the first time, it includes “A Clean Marriage,” the story that brought Murata international attention, as well as her tales of feminist revenge and human oddity.

LR: Factory Girls;  Richard Cole
LR: Factory Girls; Richard Cole

13. The Whalebone Theatre, Joanna Quinn

Nothing like a chic family saga to keep you glued to your deckchair while sipping a chilled aperitif. Here, the first author, Quinn, fills the file to the end, with a tale chronicling the life and loves of a family through two world wars and two countries, Great Britain and France.

14. The Accomplice, Steve Cavanagh

The Belfast-born lawyer turns writer and returns with another twisty and entertaining thriller starring legal eagle hero Eddie Flynn, out next month. Serial killer The Sandman, who was revealed as a wealthy hedge fund manager, remains at large; his wife, facing trial as her accomplice turns to Flynn for help.

15. Factory Girls, Michelle Gallen

The perfect choice for those missing their dose of Derry Girls. Set in a small town on the Irish border in 1994, it follows Maeve and her two friends who work at a local shirt factory for summer jobs. However, as marching season begins, tensions rise and Maeve’s escape plan is threatened.

Agatha Christie, poses in March 1946 for a photographer holding a notebook, at her home, Greenway House, Devonshire.
Agatha Christie, poses in March 1946 for a photographer holding a notebook, at her home, Greenway House, Devonshire.

Summer Mysteries: Five Timeless Tales by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the ultimate beach read and her popularity continues to endure, 102 years after the publication of her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Here are five of our favorites.

1. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: Aficionados may consider this an obvious choice due to its unprecedented and innovative narrative twist, but it remains a landmark of detective fiction. The inimitable Hercule Poirot comes up against a formidable adversary.

2. After the funeral: where there’s a will, there’s a murder…as deaths continue to mount in the Aberethie family, Poirot must navigate his way through a maze of family secrets – and an ingenious disguise – to solve the case. Interesting fact: The story was adapted for an episode of Agatha Christie’s long-running Poirot series in 2006, featuring a pre-famous Michael Fassbender.

3. Endless Night: Christie’s lazy trope is that she wrote a formula, but the opposite is true, as evidenced by this story of a working-class drifter who marries an American heiress. Miss Marple stars in a psychological suspense triumph that showcases Christie’s creative breadth.

4. Mirror creaks from side to side: An American actress brings a touch of glamor to St Mary Mead when she moves into an estate on the outskirts of the village. Tragedy ensues and Miss Marple is on hand to find out why. A devilishly clever plot device makes for a memorable read.

5. Five Little Pigs: Poirot investigates a poisoning case to absolve a woman who died in prison. Christie’s storytelling skills come to the fore as Poirot hears five different versions of the same event.

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