Summer Reading

In 100 beautifully crafted pages Natasha Brown’s bold, sharp debut deftly illustrates the relentless, exhausting pressure of inhabiting Britain’s colonial legacy as a young successful Black British woman. Subverting the classic country house weekend trope, Brown’s writing – compared often to Jenny Offill – is daring and elegant. 
The much-anticipated second novel from the author of Homegoing has had a rapturous reception. Charting the experiences of a Ghanaian family in the dark heart of modern America, this is a powerful and unsentimental novel about loss, belonging and belief.
A novel you will want to tuck into your beach bag, promising hours of total absorption. The fate of three lighthouse keepers lost in the 1970s haunts the local Cornish community and twenty years later the women they left behind are struggling to come to terms with their loss. Insanely gripping, this literary mystery is the perfect (soggy British) holiday page turner.
The debut novel from the author of the bestselling phenomenon that was Three Women. Taddeo knows the inner life of women better than most and this scorching read is erotic, emotional and completely electrifying.
The story of Martha, who at 40 realises she finds life harder to live than other people do. Tender and absorbing this funny, dark novel has been justly compared to Fleabag, insisting as it does that we care deeply for someone who does unforgivable things. This is a love story, and a (late) coming of age tale that tackles the issue of long term mental health in the most empathetic and heartfelt way.
Labelled a masterpiece and one of the best novels of the year within a week of publication, The Promise tells of the decline of a white South African family living on a farm outside Pretoria. Galgut is on his finest form as he explores grief, despair and love in his inimitable style. Read this book if nothing else this year.
Disturbing and yet essential, this is the account of the well-known publisher’s childhood abuse at the hands of a famous French author. Sprigora lays bare the cultural attitudes that allowed a thirteen year old girl to be involved with a fifty year old man and public figure, who would claim her as his muse for years to come. As women around the world begin to speak out, Sprigora has decided to reclaim her own story.
These extracts from Vickers’ diaries during his years as Cecil Beaton’s biographer offer a wonderful immersion in a now disappeared world. Illuminating the lives of the glitterati in the post war period, Vickers travels the world meeting the great and good – The Queen Mother, Diana Vreeland, Truman Capote, Irving Penn to name but a few.
Following lightly in the footsteps of The Hare with the Amber Eyes, de Waal this time paints a fascinating portrait of the French collector Count Moise de Camondo, who lived a few doors down from de Waal’s own relations, the Ephrussi. At the heart of the Belle Epoque, Camondo created the most spectacular house filled with an unrivalled private collection. 
The charming and insightful daily musings of travel writer Jan Morris. Morris, who sadly died last November, wrote from her home in North West Wales about the stupidity and glory of modern life. Author of classics such as Venice and Trieste, she lost none of her determination to seize life and live creatively. Newly published in paperback.
The doyenne of English gardens looks back over her career – she has designed more than 70 gardens! Inspiration and escapism abound in this stunning book stuffed full of beautiful images.
Essays on politics and culture from the Californian writer. Collected over twenty years her wry and vivid writing offer a fascinating insight into the themes and thinking that underpin her fiction (Flamethrowers, The Mars Room).
Clemmie Jackson-Stops runs Vellum Libraries, curating book collections and libraries for individuals and discerning businesses. You can find out more at
Summer Reading
— Francesca
23rd June 2021

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