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Thursday 01 August 2019
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a real pager-turner over the summer holidays, here’s what Hatchards recommends for August…
Written in bursts whilst Wharton performed charity work in France during the First World War, Summer drew an equal measure of fame and scandal upon first publication for its defiant depiction of female sexual awakening.
Filled with all the bittersweet promise of frustrated desire and forbidden love discovered and undone, Edith Wharton’s Summer has too long languished as an overlooked classic.
An outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, The Ascent of Rum Doodle has been a cult favourite since its publication in 1956. Led by the reliably under-insightful Binder, a team of seven British men including Dr Prone (constantly ill); Jungle the route finder (constantly lost), Constant the diplomat (constantly arguing) and 3,000 Yogistani porters, set out to conquer the highest peak in the Himalayas.
1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning - slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.
For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.
Tucked away along a shady path towards the north-east edge of Hampstead Heath is a sign: Women Only. This is the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond.
Floating in the Pond’s silky waters, hidden by a canopy of trees, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of London. On a hot day, thousands of swimmers from eight to eighty-plus can be found waiting to take a dip before sunbathing in the adjoining meadow. As summer turns to autumn and then winter, the Pond is still visited by a large number of hardy regulars in high-vis hats, many of whom have been swimming here for decades.
In these essays we see the Pond from the perspectives of writers who have swum there.