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Autumn reads: The 6 best books to pack for your staycation

A relaxing break isn't complete without getting lost in a book. Here are our picks of the best books that'll fill your staycation with romance, thrills, new ideas, and a side helping of escapism.

Written by Rachael Nichol
Published 17.09.2021

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

A riveting tale of power, love, hate, privilege, female empowerment and female friendships found in the most unlikely situations. Set in Pompeii’s brothels, this is the first in a trilogy of novels reimagining the lives of women who have long been overlooked. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller’s Circe.

Harper’s first historical novel is masterful following Amara and her fellow ‘she-wolves’ throughout the city where the streets are alive opportunity, even the lowest-born slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Sold by her mother, enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel but determined to survive – can Amara ever find peace?

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Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney 

If you’re looking for a clever contemporary love story for your time away, this should be on your ‘to be read’ list. One of contemporary literature’s brightest talents follows up the incredible Normal People with a novel about the redeeming, essential quality of love between four young friends in Dublin and the west of Ireland.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. They’re all young, but life is catching up with them. Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world? 

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One August Night by Victoria Hislop

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for… In this highly anticipated sequel to her bestselling The Island, Hislop returns to the isle of Spinalonga in a nuanced and absorbing tale of hope and tragedy.

The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony, which leads to a moment of violence that has devastating consequences. 

But when time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart, and for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy. The question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted, and, somehow, a future needs to be built from the ruins of the past for those affected. But how will they do it?

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Who doesn’t love getting lost in a good ol’ love story during your holiday? Heartbreaking and exquisitely written, Hoover’s touching novel of desire, lost loves, and second chances focuses on a love triangle and explores how we must always live with the ghosts of the past.

Sometimes, the one who loves you is the one who hurts you the most. After working hard to branch out of her small town, we follow Lily’s battle with her heart as she falls for a neurosurgeon. But everything soon becomes just too good to be true.  Questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, and so do her thoughts of her first love before he reappears, threatening everything that she’s built with her new relationship.

 This bold and deeply personal novel has a heart-wrenching story and an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

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How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

It’s safe to say that spending time with your family on your holiday can drive us insane, sometimes. This wickedly dark romp about class, family, love and murder seems somehow quite fitting for your family break – just don’t be getting any ideas!

After all, who doesn’t love a good murder story? Fans of Killing Eve or My Sister and The Serial Killer, this novel is perfect for you. When Grace Bernard discovers her absent millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge and sets out to kill every member of his family. We’re treated to a front-row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one. But then Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit…

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Spanning the 1950s to the 1990s, and from the Deep South to California, this stunning novel follows the journeys of two estranged twin sisters leading very different lives – to the extent of adopting different racial identities.

Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021, this book will have you gripped. Following the story of twin sisters Stella and Desiree, who run away from their southern American home in the 1960s, this story takes on themes of identity, race, and history. This novel is perfect if you want to become acquainted with some characters that you’re sure to feel a bond with and escape into a different time and place.  What will happen to the next generation when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

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