I haven't done a "beach" reading list for a couple of years now (last year I was Summering in Italy--wishful thinking really, as it was only of the armchair variety), but as it is a setting I am drawn to I thought it was time to give it a little thought and come up with a new list. For me beach reading isn't what you typically think of in terms of books you read at the beach. I live about as far from a proper beach as you can get, so I don't make a list of summer reading per se. Rather my beach reading is exactly that--books that have beach/seaside/sailing settings. Since I've already created a variety of beach reading lists (here, here, here, here, and here), I had to do some serious scanning of my shelves to see what I could come up with that would be new. As you can see I am very much a fan of seaside settings so I didn't have a problem making a list, but this time out it is a little unconventional.
This time out my choices are a little eclectic and perhaps not what you might consider beach reads. There is a ghost story or two, and an arctic setting, a little mystery and crime and even some romance thrown in for good measure. I've read and enjoyed a number of these books, have most of them on my shelves (save for a couple that I have requested from the library), but they all in some way evoke the seaside--if only to hear the gentle lap (or maybe in some cases the crashing of) the waves.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher -- However did I leave this book off my earlier lists? I love Rosamund Pilcher and while I think Coming Home is my favorite of the books I've read by her The Shell Seekers ranks up there pretty high. Also set in Cornwall the story moves back and forth in time and is another family drama, though this time there is an artistic aspect to the story as "The Shell Seekers" is a painting which was painted by the main character's father. I really need to reread it sometime soon.
The Winter Sea (Sophia's Secret in the UK) by Susanna Kearsley -- Kearsley's novels are always good stories that you can lose yourself in. This one is set in 18th century Scotland and you could almost hear the crashing of the waves. The setting is Slains Castle overlooking the rugged coast. It's a romantic story with a little added political intrigue and a supernatural slant to it that comes off well. I liked it so much I read it twice.
The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin -- This wonderful Swedish crime novel has a lighthouse that features predominately in the story. It's very atmospheric and suspenseful and has won numerous awards. One of four books (three are now out in English translations) that are loosely connected and set on the island of Oland. I've got one of his other books on my reading pile and another is available in the UK only (may not wait for a US edition).
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio -- I've requested this one from the library. It's set on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. A sweeping saga of long-lost love, a mysterious painting, an unspeakable tragedy and the beach bungalow at the center of it all ...
Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes -- The 1950s seaside town of Merham is the setting for this story. When a group of bohemians move in the lives of a few local girls are changed irrevocably.
I'll Never Be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier -- What's a seaside list without Daphne du Maurier. I was just recently thinking how much I would enjoy reading one of her novels right now. Maybe I should read this one. This is an adventure story about two young men who join the crew of the first ship leaving England.
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie -- I read this Hercule Poirot mystery years and years ago, but I have seen the Peter Ustinov movie version more times than I can recall. If you can have comfort reads, why not comfort movies? This one is mine. I love the setting, which is an island in the Tyrrhenian sea. Classic Christie plotting and storytelling. Must dig my copy out to read again.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver -- This is a chilling ghost story set in the snowy, ice cold Arctic region, but you can certain hear the lap of the waves, and maybe a few other creepy things that you might not want to know what's causing them.
The River by Rumer Godden -- I loved Godden's The Greengage Summer so much I started collecting other books she wrote--including The River. "Harriet is between two worlds. Her sister is no longer a playmate, her brother is still a child. The comforting rhythm of her Indian childhood - the noise of the jute works, the colourful festivals that accompany each season and the eternal ebb and flow of the river on its journey to the Bay of Benghal - is about to be shattered. She must learn how to reconcile the jagged edges of beginnings and ends ..."
Violins of Saint Jacques by Patrick Leigh Fermor -- I love Patrick Leigh Fermor's writing and am curious about what his fiction is like. "On an Aegean island one summer, an English traveller meets an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman. He is captivated by a painting she owns of a busy Caribbean port overlooked by a volcano, and, in time, she shares the story of her youth there in the early twentieth century. Set in the tropical luxury of the island of Saint-Jacques, hers is a tale of romantic intrigue and decadence amongst the descendants of slaves and a fading French aristocracy. But on the night of the annual Mardi Gras ball, catastrophe overwhelms the island and the world she knew came to an abrupt and haunting end."
Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels -- In my younger days I used to inhale Barbara Michaels's books. Her books are along the lines of Mary Stewart--romantic suspense that often have exotic settings. This one is set in Cornwall. "The house--reminiscent of something in a Jane Austen novel--overlooks the craggy seacoast and is filled with hidden stairways and abandoned gardens. The unsolved disappearance of a resident two centuries earlier adds a Gothic touch, and Carla, intrigued, stays to investigate what could only be an ancestral curse. Along the way, she meets an assortment of characters who welcome her inquiries, although they seem to be warning her off the property at the same time." She might be fun to revisit and I still have a few of her books on my shelves. This is one I never got around to reading.
The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas -- Rosie Thomas is another author who I read in my pre-blogging days. This is one of her more recent novels. "An epic story of wartime, family secrets and forbidden love, set against the stunning exotic backdrop of 1940s Kashmir. Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Deep in the exquisite heart of Kashmir lies the lakeside city of Srinagar, where the British live on carved wooden houseboats and dance, flirt and gossip as if there is no war. But the battles draw closer, and life in Srinagar becomes less frivolous when the men are sent away to fight. Nerys is caught up in a dangerous friendship, and by the time she is reunited with her husband, the innocent Welsh bride has become a different woman."
The Jasmine Isle by Ioanna Karystiani -- "A modern love story with the force of an ancient Greek tragedy. Set on the spectacular Cycladic island of Andros, The Jasmine Isle one of the finest literary achievements in contemporary Greek literature, recounts the story of the beautiful Orsa Saltaferos, sentenced to marry a man she doesn't love and to watch while the man she does love weds another."
Quite a few of these books are firmly set in the comfort read zone, but there are a few unexpected titles in the list as well. I'll still be 'Summering in Italy' but I do think I'm going to need to read a book or two from this list. Where to start? Have you read any good books with beach/seaside settings recently?