A book a day keeps boredom at bay. Add a glass of wine and you’re in for a happy August.
In a tiny Italian village, life in the 1950s is a daily pageant of small human dramas. There are lippy signoras and earthy farmworkers. There’s a coffin-maker, a silkworm farmer and those who catch frogs for the town’s local delicacy – frog risotto. Then there’s Pistola, a teenage boy in love with his second cousin, Teresa, a girl who’s sadly, destined to marry the village thug. Don’t you already know Loves and Miracles of Pistola is going to be a magnificent read? Even more so, when you discover that to escape his heartache, young Pistola accepts the offer of a lifetime … to travel to South Africa to work on the trains. In lively Johannesburg, he and a group of compatriots are trained as stewards and taught to speak English – and Afrikaans. It’s not all work, mind you. The Italians set up home in Hillbrow and go partying in Sophiatown with the likes of Miriam Makeba. When Pistola falls for the spunky Malikah, a political activist, the apartheid police watch every breath of their passionate, illicit relationship. It’s written by the wonderful Hilary Prendini Toffoli, who lives in Cape Town and is known for her social satire and investigative features. Just brilliant! Penguin, R280.
So many of our favourite authors this month. Book Club’s going to be great. Jeffery Deaver (love!) has just released his latest thriller, The Goodbye Man. After witnessing a shocking suicide while pursuing two armed fugitives in the wilderness, Colter Shaw’s investigations lead him to go undercover in the Foundation – a cult that promises to transform people’s lives. It’s a cult led by a charismatic leader who commands terrifying loyalty from his followers, a cult that may have only one way to escape – with your life. Harper Collins, R408.
From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looks perfect. And the Bigelows seem like the perfect family. The respected surgeon father. The glamorous, devoted mother. Two beautiful children. A perfect family in a perfect house, living their perfect lives. But perfect surfaces can hide dark undercurrents and behind closed doors lies a very different story. Teenager Zane and his younger sister, Britt, are terrorised by their violent father and dysfunctional mother. Too afraid to speak out, Zane does his best to protect his sister and counts the days until they can finally be free. Until the night when their father’s temper takes a horrifying turn for the worse, the perfect façade is exposed for the lie it is, and Zane and Britt manage to escape. With the help of their aunt, they rebuild their lives, creating new families and putting their past behind them. But can a past like that really be put aside? Under Currents, by Nora Roberts, is a great winter read, perfect for a Sunday on the sofa in front of a fire. Little Brown Book Group, R239.
Do you remember how your heart just swelled when you read TheUnlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?. Well, it’s time for an encore. Joyce Rachel’s Miss Benson’s Beetle is a story about a tiny insect, an exciting adventure and a deep, unexpected friendship. It’s the story of Margery Benson, whose life ended the day her father walked out of his study and never came back. Forty years later, abandoning a dull job, she advertises for an assistant, someone who will join her on an expedition to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may, or may not, exist. Enid Pretty is not who she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all Margery’s expectations,
eventually finding new life at the top of a red mountain. Penguin, R310.
Isn’t it irritating when you watch a series and someone says ‘the book was sooo much better’. Well, trust us when we tell you that when it comes to Little Fires Everywhere, the book is, indeed, so, so, so much better. This magnificently written story
revolves around two families – a free-spirited, enigmatic artist and single mum, and a journalist who, with her husband and four children, lives the perfect life, where everything is strictly under control. How these women influence their own and each other’s children, and how Celeste Ng captures the angst of being an adolescent, makes for a powerful, thoughtful read and a book that’s completely unputdownable. Little Brown BookGroup, R288
Twelve years ago, a child went missing. She was six years-old when she disappeared. Now she’s home. Knocking on the door. But why won’t she answer any questions? Where has she been? How did she find her way home? And who is she? SK Barnett’s Safe is a thrilling read, with twist after twist until the very last page. Penguin, R260.
Two strangers are driving across America. Cait – whose job is to transport women to safety. Rebecca – who’s trying to escape something. Out of respect, Cait never asks questions. But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed. And there’s someone right behind them, watching their every move. Read Jessica Barry’s Don’t Turn Around with the lights on bright! Penguin, R310.
This is, quite simply, the most exceptional wine we could wish to enjoy this August. Elegant and complex, Glenelly Lady May is all blackberry and cassis, dark cherry and spicy plum, with dense, age-worthy tannins. R520 from Glenelly Estate