Our pick of the best summer reads for English Literature lovers

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (2020)

A tender exploration of the short life of Shakespeare’s only son Hamnet – the inspiration behind one of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (2014)

A modern re-imagining of Austen’s classic Gothic novel, by the queen of crime Val McDermid. It combines supernatural chills with a delightful romance.

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby (2020)

Examining the life of Jane Austen’s elusive sister Cassandra Austen, Hornby solves the mystery of why Cassandra burned all Jane’s letters when Jane died. It’s a lovely literary investigation.

The Book Lover’s Bucket List (2021)

Presenting 100 literary sites for book lovers to explore,  each entry contains useful information for planning a visit. The book includes photos and illustrations from the British Library’s archives.

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (1991)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel transports the story of Shakespeare’s King Lear to the epic plains of modern-day Iowa. Farmer Larry Cook gives his farm to his three daughters beginning a poignant tale. 

 The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (2007)

Tells the story of college sophomore Laurel Estabrook after the life-changing moment when she is attacked on her bike. The novel weaves between the lives of Laurel and Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby.

Juliet by Anne Fortier (2010)

Follows the story of Julie Jacobs when she discovers that her family heritage goes all the way back to Shakespeare’s famous Juliet. As the story progresses, she realises the curse from the play is still in effect.

Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)

Revisits the misunderstood witch from Homer’s Odyssey as she grapples with the choice between the deities she was born from or the mortals that she loves. Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

This masterpiece gives a voice to the ‘madwoman in the attic’, Bertha Mason, from Jane Eyre. It follows the story of Antoinette Cosway as she falls in love with a young Englishman and her plunge into despair as her marriage disintegrates.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (2021)

The latest novel from the Nobel Laureate and author of set text Never Let Me Go, Klara and the Sun tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend, as she waits in a store, watching the customers and waiting for someone to choose her.

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