Being heavily pregnant during an Aussie heatwave means one thing: going to the toilet a lot. It also means another thing: lots of time to read. I’ve laid awake most nights this summer with a book in my hand, trying to forget about the beads of sweat forming behind my knees. So it’s safe to say I have a few recommendations.
Also, it wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I realised they were all written by female authors. Bonus!
The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I won’t say the four Plumb siblings in the story are likable. But that’s exactly what makes this whole novel so… likable. These four trust-fund babies have all foolishly put their eggs in the same basket – banking upon the fact they’ll gain access to their late daddy’s trust fund when the youngest, Melody, turned 40. No surprises that there are a few hiccups along the way. Each of the four siblings has found themselves in quite the financial pickle, and it’s pretty clear that unless they start to put each other first then the whole nest will go up in metaphorical flames. The backdrop to this wry family drama is beautiful New York, and the author paints such a vivid picture that you can almost feel the snow crunching underfoot as you wander around Central Park.
Swing Time, Zadie Smith
Short, punchy chapters allow you to quickly dance your way through this sweeping novel of friendship, frenemies and fancy footwork. The central focus is on two best friends, brown girls from the wrong side of the track who constantly drift apart and come back together as they grow up and out of their neighbouring housing estates. Music and dance are the central themes, with both girls possessing a burning passion for dance but only one of them (Tracey) making a career from it. Our unnamed author finds herself, instead, accompanying the most popular pop singer of all time on adventures around the globe in the role of personal assistant. This novel is all about change, acceptance, finding your voice… and finding your feet. There are incredible musical references throughout, and you’ll soon find yourself in a You Tube blackhole as everyone from Michael Jackson to Fred Astaire dances out of the pages and onto the screen.
Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
So full of flavour you could almost reach out and lick the pages (almost). Instead, grab yourself a fruity cocktail and settle down to follow the coming-of-age exploits of young Tess. This small-town girl lands herself smack bang in the middle of New York City, with a job starting on the very bottom rung of an iconic restaurant. Her slow, painfully awkward, almost backwards climb up the ladder is peppered with sensuous descriptions of food, love and harsh social lessons that are often dished out cold. Friendships are formed in the dark, after-hours light of dive bars and nightclubs and there’s a love triangle as sharp as any blue cheese you could hope to bite into.
Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
It’s a steamy summer in Brooklyn, and time appears to be standing still. Well, for everyone except former bandmates Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe. Life is passing them by at a rapid speed, and over the course of the summer each is forced to do some rapid growing up….despite the fact they are all in their 40s.
Back in the ’80s, the group formed the popular (and awesomely named) band, Kitty’s Mustache. Sadly, after a successful solo career, the fourth member Lydia joined the “27 Club” and died. Now, a bunch of filmmakers want to make a movie about Lydia’s life and they’re requesting the rights to the bands most famous song. Which is fine with Zoe and Elizabeth, but for some reason Andrew won’t agree.
This book is about love in all its weird, wonderful, secretive, exciting and sometimes shocking forms. It’s not just the adults in this book who are forced to grow up, it’s their offspring as well.
Feature image: Sant Magazine