Penguin summer reads

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As summer days stretch out before us, so too does the promise of slow holiday afternoons losing yourself in a good book. Rug on the beach, Swim Club sun lounger or rainy day window sofa; fiction or non-fiction; love story or thriller – there’s nothing quite like devouring compelling pages you might not find time for in everyday life.

But whether the sun’s beating down or the rain lashing the windows, reading can be thirsty ‘work’. Be it a refreshing sip of something cold, or a warm, spicy kick to bring you round, a good book demands a good drink close at hand.

Working with our friends at Penguin – who’ve picked out some of their favourite new releases this summer – our resident drinks aficionado, Christina Knight, selects a drink to go with each title, inspired by the themes of each book.

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Our summer book and drink pairings

We’ve included links if you want to get your hands on a copy, or you can also find all these titles in our ocean room library.

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The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

On a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the pond below 'The Paper Palace' – her family's holiday home in Cape Cod. As she dives beneath the water she relives the passionate encounter she had the night before, against the side of the house that knows all her darkest secrets, while her husband and mother chatted to their guests inside… So begins a story that unfolds over 24 hours and 50 years, as Elle's shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision.

Drink to read it with: Highpoint Ruby Aperitif
Christina’s notes: “A Cornish fermented, non-alcoholic aperitif with wild herbs and bittersweet citrus…a long refreshing drink with an unexpected twist…”
Recommended reading spot: The Living Space

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The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. It’s the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs. This tavern, which has a fig tree growing through its centre, is where one can find the best food, music and wine in town; making one forget – even if for just a few hours – the world outside and its immoderate sorrows as war approaches…

Decades later in north London, 16-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a fig tree growing in the back garden of their home. A rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature, and, finally, renewal.

Drink to read with: Spicy Tommy’s Martini
Christina’s notes: “Garnished with a sprig of rosemary and a chilli slice, the Spicy Tommy’s Martini made me imagine the vibrant heat, beats and atmosphere in that Cypriot taverna.”
Recommended reading spot: The Beach Hut deck

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Bittersweet by Susan Cain

Bittersweetness is a tendency towards states of longing, poignancy and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world. It recognises that light and dark, birth and death – bitter and sweet – are forever paired.

The author of the bestselling phenomenon Quiet describes her powerful quest to understand how love, loss and sorrow make us whole – revealing the power of a bittersweet outlook on life. Employing a mix of research, storytelling and memoir, Cain explores how embracing the bittersweetness at the heart of life is the true path to creativity and connection. At a time of profound discord and personal anxiety, Bittersweet brings us together in deep and unexpected ways.

Drink to read with: Cornish Negroni
Christina’s notes: “The timeless pairing of bitter and sweet, embodied in a timelessly classic cocktail. Our Cornish version blends Tinkture Rose Gin with Knightor White Vermouth and Knightor Rose Vermouth.”
Recommended reading spot: The ocean room in Swim Club

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Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton

Award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton survived her twenties (just about) and in Everything I Know About Love, she gives an unflinching account of the bad dates and squalid flat-shares, the heartaches and humiliations, and most importantly, the unbreakable female friendships that helped her to hold it all together. Glittering with wit, heart and humour, this is a book to press into the hands of every woman who has ever been there or is about to find themselves taking that first step towards the rest of their lives.

Drink to read with: Rose Gin & Tonic
Christina’s notes: “Give me a more universal symbol of love than a rose? Tinkture Rose Gin is one of our favourites, and changes colour as you add the tonic – perhaps reflecting the changing emotions of life in your twenties?!”
Recommended reading spot: Zacry’s

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The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor. But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and 12-year-old Cristabel claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.

Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid. But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story...

Drink to read with: Oreo Hot Chocolate
Christina’s notes: “Thinking back to childhood, I couldn’t help but land on our Extreme Oreo Hot Chocolate – topped with whipped cream and and Oreo cookies. Oreos are actually dairy-free, and there’s a fully vegan option with oat milk and oat milk squirty cream.”
Recommended reading spot: The Beach Hut

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The Gardener by Salley Vickers

Artist, Hassie Days, and her sister, Margot, buy a run-down Jacobean house in Hope Wenlock on the Welsh Marches. While Margot continues her London life in high finance, Hassie is left alone to work the large, long-neglected garden. She is befriended by eccentric, sharp-tongued, Miss Foot, who recommends, Murat, an Albanian migrant, made to feel out of place among the locals, to help Hassie in the garden.

As she works the garden in Murat's peaceful company, Hassie ruminates on her past life: the sibling rivalry that tainted her childhood and the love affair that left her with painful, unanswered questions. But as she begins to explore the history of the house and the mysterious nearby wood, old hurts begin to fade as she experiences the healing power of nature and discovers other worlds.

Drink to read with: Cucumber, Mint and Elderflower cooler
Christina’s notes: “This book is about the healing power of the garden, and this refreshing non-alcoholic drink is bursting with the flavours of an English summertime garden.”
Recommended reading spot: The Living Space deck

The Crane Wife
The Crane Wife by CJ Houser

Ten days after calling off her wedding, CJ Hauser went on an expedition to study the whooping crane. After a week wading through the gulf, she realised she had almost signed up to live somebody else's life.

In this intimate, frank and funny memoir in essays, CJ Hauser lets go of 'how life was supposed to be' and goes looking for more honest ways of living. She kisses internet strangers, officiates a wedding, visits a fertility clinic. She reads Rebecca in the house her new boyfriend shared with his ex-wife and rewinds Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story to ask if you can ever have a fresh start with an old love. She writes about friends and lovers, grief and heartbreak, blood family and chosen family, and asks what more expansive definitions of love might offer us all. A book for anyone whose life doesn't look the way they thought it would; for anyone trying, if sometimes failing, to find joy in the unexpected.

Drink to read with: Sea flower cocktail
Christina’s notes: “This book is about finding joy in the unexpected – the new sea flower cocktail in Zacry's has sea buckthorn puree as un unexpected ingredient and adds an exciting twist. Mix elderflower liquor, rum, pineapple, sugar and lime. Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with pineapple.”
Recommended reading spot: Zacry's

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