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Escape Reality

Bloomberg • 5 min read
Escape Reality
A list of 10 beach reads about true crime, exotic locations and heartbreaking love affairs
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A list of 10 beach reads about true crime, exotic locations and heartbreaking love affairs

(June 24): Even if you are living the perfect life, in the perfect location, there is just something about summer that makes you long to experience new things. The best books of beach season all have that in common: a desire to escape place, time or circumstance. We read the most highly anticipated releases — both fiction and non-fiction — and picked our favourites.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Berkley)

Central escape: Instead of couples therapy, what if you kept your marriage alive by murdering young women?

Synopsis: A suburban couple’s proclivity for violence spirals out of control when the discovery of a victim’s body generates intense public interest, requiring an elaborate cover-up.

Best line: “Millicent killed Robin the same way I had killed Holly. No hesitation. All instinct. And it was sexy.”

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Henry Holt & Co)

Central escape: What would happen if someone shed fresh light on your most intense high school love affair?

Synopsis: A three-part novel that has “Reese Witherspoon film adaptation” written all over it starts with a love story at a performing arts high school in the 1980s, then upends what you thought you knew, complete with revenge fantasy and an unexpected final reveal.

Best line: “Therapy can seem like a revision of memory, like you’re saving your life by destroying your story and writing a new one.”

The Vagabonds by Jeff Guinn (Simon & Schuster)

Central escape: Hit the road with best friends Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone at the dawn of the automotive era.

Synopsis: Nearly every year from 1914 to 1924, the three titans of American industry took a highly publicised road trip to promote “the possibilities of car travel”. It happened to be a pivotal decade that transformed the world.

Best line: “It seemed a foolproof plan. And then, on Aug 2, President Warren G Harding died.”

Working by Robert A Caro (Knopf)

Central escape: Put yourself in the shoes of the US’ most recognised biographer.

Synopsis: The Power Broker author Robert A Caro became a successful non-fiction writer in the US through a journalistic approach to truth (“Can it be verified?”) and novelworthy prose. His new book provides a peek into how he manages it all: hard work and a brilliant wife.

Best line: “Interviews: Silence is the weapon, silence and people’s need to fill it — as long as the person isn’t you, the interviewer.”

Furious Hours by Casey Cep (Knopf)

Central escape: After working with Truman Capote on In Cold Blood, Harper Lee decamps back south to report her own crime novel.

Synopsis: An Alabama reverend, accused of murdering a growing list of family members for insurance money, is shot dead at the funeral of one of them. The trial of his killer captures the attention of the state’s most famous author.

Best line: “A murdered person’s name always becomes synonymous with her murder; a murdered person’s death always threatens to eclipse her life.”

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books)

Central escape: For a naive 19-year-old girl, nothing could be more alien than dizzy, post-Prohibition New York.

Synopsis: At 89, Vivian Morris takes a rollicking look back on her days as a promiscuous girl working with a cast of flamboyant characters at her aunt’s theatre in the 1940s.

Best line: “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”

I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie (Lake Union Publishing)

Central escape: Imagine how different your life would be if your parents ran a summer camp.

Synopsis: The five MacAllister siblings reunite at the family’s camp in rural Canada after the death of their parents. Their father’s will stipulates that four of them must determine if older brother Ryan killed camper Amanda Holmes 20 years ago.

Best line: “Her father had been spying on them. All of them. For twenty years.”

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Simon & Schuster)

Central escape: Take your pick of perspectives: an unloved housewife, a student in love with her teacher or a restaurateur with a voyeuristic husband.

Synopsis: Lisa Taddeo tracked three women and conducted thousands of hours of interviews with them to understand, and portray, the nuances of female desire.

Best line: “She wipes her eyes and walks out and passes the rest of her senior year like a kidney stone.”

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams (William Morrow)

Central escape: A society reporter heads to Nassau in 1941 to cover the infamous Duke and Duchess of Windsor and their colourful coterie.

Synopsis: A shocking death under the Caribbean sun. A cover-up with a whiff of royal privilege. Williams mixes those ingredients with spies, swindles, love affairs — plus a dash of racial animosity — and the result is a zesty romantic cocktail.

Best line: “Murder. It’s one of those words, isn’t it, that sounds as dreadful as the deed itself.”

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Ginder (Flatiron Books)

Central escape: A remote, run-down island is lovely for a vacation but maybe not where you want to live the rest of your life.

Synopsis: The Wright family needs to flee — their lives, their mistakes and each other. Still, a hilariously misguided visit to certain overlooked ruins in Greece ends up unearthing more than just ancient history.

Best line: “A mistake is mismatched socks or taking the Bay Bridge at rush hour. You didn’t make a mistake this time, Dad. You made a baby.”

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