The Whish List

Book Reviews: "Be awesome! Be a book nut!" – Dr Seuss

Month: May 2016

The Invitation by Lucy Foley. Reviewed for lovereading


Please accept this invitation to a wonderfully beguiling summer read set on the Italian coast in the 1950’s. It’s a love story with a twist that you won’t see coming.


This is a captivating book that has stories within the main story of a young journalist and his invitation to join the party on a luxury yacht in 1950’s Italy as they make their way to the Cannes film festival. Hal has met Stella an enigmatic fellow passenger and the book is largely concerned with their lives and relationship. I can’t remember being so enamoured and shocked by the ending of a book for quite some time so stick with the story when it slightly flags halfway through.

This is a gorgeously descriptive book and I loved some of the asides along the way, especially a theory as to why the houses of a coastal town are all painted a different colour (so that a fisherman can spot his house from sea and maybe even spot whether his wife has got company while his back is turned!)

The book has a very filmic quality which mirrors the fact that the guests of the Countess on the yacht, are going to show the film that they’ve made at the famous film festival. There are lots of interconnections throughout the book and it’s cleverly constructed. This book has already been likened in theme and style to Victoria Hislop and I can think of no higher praise.

This summer, you’re invited to be swept along with a love story that intrigues, enchants and haunts.


The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – reviewed for lovereading


A sumptuous, wildly addictive book that’s evocative and richly written. It’s about love, place, belief and scientific discovery all realised in a seasonal structure that frames the story perfectly.


This book is such a gorgeous beast of a book! It cleverly mimics the great Victorian novels but has a contemporary voice that’s unique.
It’s primarily about Cora Seaborne, who is an unhappily married wife and mother but is passionate about the natural world and the new discoveries that seem to be happening all around her in Victorian London. Although she is very much a true portrayal of her time and class, she is also recognisable to us from a contemporary perspective as she is torn between duty and freedom, progress and belief etc. This is thrown into even sharper relief when she and her son, Francis move to the Essex village of Aldwinter following the death of her husband. Here she meets Will Ransome, the local vicar and his family and becomes caught up with the mystery of the mythical Essex serpent that seems to have made a reappearance at this place and time.
Sarah Perry cleverly gets you questioning; what is real?, who do we believe?, who can we trust etc?
Aside from the will they/won’t they nature of Cora and Will’s burgeoning relationship, the cast of supporting characters are really interesting too, from; ‘damaged’ surgeon, Luke to Martha, Cora’s class agitating maid and companion.
I also loved the way the novel was framed by the passing of the year and the changing of the seasons. Although this book’s going to be released in the summer, I predict that aside from the sun loungers, it will be equally at home with a glass of something red around a roaring log fire.