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7 Beach Reads You May Have Missed This Summer

Posted on 21 Aug 2018

No more hastily buying an airport paperback that will inevitably have you dozing off, instead, we bring you the ultimate summer reads to absorb you as you (safely) absorb those rays.

The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice

'Rip-roaringly entertaining stories of three fascinating women' - The Times

Before you go on that well-deserved holiday, there are a few things to remember: passport, towel, swimming costume – and most importantly – the Beach Book.

No more hastily buying an airport paperback that will inevitably have you dozing off in the sun only to wake up lobster-like 4 hours later. Instead, we’ve done a little prep to bring you the ultimate summer reads to absorb you as you (safely) absorb those rays.

The Unfinished Palazzo is a dazzling account of the lives of three passionate and unconventional women who, each in turn, were captivated by a half-built Venetian palazzo’s spirit of fairytale abandonment and made it their home as well as a stage on which to re-fashion their lives. From a proto-Lady Gaga, to the British socialite who became Cara Delenvigne’s great aunt, to the art collector who has her name on one of the most celebrated art galleries in the world – these were some of the most rebellious, inventive women of the 20th Century and they have some tantalising tales to tell.

Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India

'MacMillan has that essential quality of the historian, a narrative gift' - Daily Telegraph

An impeccably researched account of the forgotten lives of the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers of the men at the centre of the Raj, this is a vivid cultural and social history of the women who left their home for a distant land they barely knew. Telling their stories in their own words, the distinguished historian and bestselling author Margaret MacMillan draws on letters and memoirs, novels and interviews, to vividly bring to life their experiences – humdrum, extraordinary, light-hearted, tragic – against the rich backdrop of colonial India.

Great Explorers: Forty of the Greatest Men and Women Who Changed Our Perception of the World

'Absorbing, factually tight, sensitive to its Eurocentricity, it gathers together a host of valuable essays' - The Guardian

You may think a Ryanair flight is a trying journey, but if you want a taste of real adventure then the blazing deserts and icy slopes of The Great Explorers are waiting.

This book charts the great expeditions of forty of the world’s most intrepid explorers, chronicling the adventures of pioneers such as Gertrude Bell – who plotted the desert sands, politics and poetry of Arabia,  Nain Singh who mapped the vast spaces of Tibet, and many more. Written by a host of distinguished travel writers, broadcasters and historians and edited by Robin Hanbury-Tenison, one of the greatest living explorers, here are journeys to inspire from every corner of the earth – and beyond.

Significant Others: Creativity and Intimate Partnership

'Compelling stories … intelligent biography and close critical readings' - New Statesman

It’s long been theorized that sex and love can be a wellspring for creativity. So what of the relationships where both partners are already artists? Featuring duos such as Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, Sonia and Robert Delaunay, and Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, Significant Others examines these inspirational interactions in a fascinating look at the impact intimate relationships can have on the creative mind.

Lives of the Surrealists

'Morris’s eye for detail is a delight. He writes with a pleasingly conversational tone and a dry humour and affection that undercuts the more preposterous behaviour described here … Juicy little nuggets litter the book' - The Times

There are not many people who can say they witnessed an iconic artistic movement develop from the inside. In The Lives of the Surrealists bestselling author Desmond Morris gives his unique insights into the life histories, idiosyncrasies and often complex love lives of his fellow artists. No impenetrable artistic analysis here; rather a look at the Surrealists as people – and as remarkable individuals.

Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion

'A life more revolutionary than previously appreciated … a great story' - Timeless Travels

If you need a book with as many twists and turns as any thriller – but with the added benefit of being entirely true – you need Cracking the Egyptian Code. It is the first biography in English of Jean-François Champollion, the impoverished, arrogant and brilliant child of the French Revolution who made the vital breakthrough in deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Champollion lived a dramatic life full of achievement and adventure: constantly reinventing himself, he was a teenage professor, a supporter of Napoleon, an exile, a fanatical decipherer and a curator at the Louvre. Andrew Robinson’s full-blooded account brings the man, his setbacks and his ultimate triumphs vividly to life.

Turkey: A Short History

'A fanfare for modern Turkey and a vivid, provocative, often funny, always insightful account of how it came about … If you really don’t know why a portrait of Ataturk hangs in almost every shop in Turkey, read this book' - The Guardian

Heading to Turkey this year? I’m jealous but I still have the perfect book for you. Norman Stone, virtuoso narrative historian and resident of Turkey from 1997, has produced an irreverent, provocative and truly epic history of – you guessed it – Turkey, from the 11th Century to the present. Bouncing along the historical path from Genghis Khan reaching out to conquer the world to an empire so mighty that it once brought Islam all the way to Vienna’s door, this is a crash course you will not want to miss.


Words by Ellen Casey.

Women of the Raj

The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India Margaret MacMillan

Significant Others

Creativity and Intimate Partnership Professor Whitney Chadwick, Isabelle de Courtivron

Cracking the Egyptian Code

The Revolutionary Life of Jean-François Champollion Mr Andrew Robinson