August has been another great month for reading, and I am really pleased that I managed to read eight amazing books alongside getting ourselves settled in our new (seaside!) home. As always, I’m so grateful to the authors, publishers and blog tour hosts who have introduced me to such fantastic books. I’ve also started stumbling clumsily into the world of Instagram, so check out @ehawkes13 on there if you fancy seeing pictures of books, flowers, the sea and more books!
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers (2020)
I was delighted to win a beautiful proof copy of this book: you can read my full review here. Elegant, perfectly crafted, with an impeccable sense of its 1950’s setting, this novel is a gorgeous treat. This was the first book by Clare Chambers that I had read, and I can’t wait to dive into her extensive backlist. It is wonderful to discover such a superb writer and to find out they have many more books already out – any recommendations of where to go next with Chambers are most welcome!
Echo Hall by Virginia Moffatt (2017)
I took part in the Damp Pebbles blog tour for this ambitious, sweeping historical novel, whose titular echoes resound through the generations. You can read my full review here. I thought Echo Hall was a very well-crafted book, and a powerful reminder that the lessons of history should not be forgotten.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2020)
Brit Bennett’s novel has been much praised, to the point where I was slightly anxious that it would not live up to the hype. Fortunately I need not have worried – this is one of the best books I have read this year. I reviewed it in conjunction with A Different Drummer, which is also absolutely outstanding, and you can read my thoughts on both books here.
A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley (1962; republished 2018)
Last month, I reviewed Kelley’s republished short story collection Dancers on the Shore, and I was so in love with his writing that I immediately ordered this novel. It is incredible, as timely today as when it was written: an immensely powerful and moving work that will stay with me forever.
The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow (2020)
My second Damp Pebbles blog tour of the month was for this beautiful, poetic novel by Dominic Brownlow. I was mesmerised by the gorgeous prose, in thrall to the natural descriptions, and struck by what a unique novel this is. You can read my thoughts in full here.
For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley (2020)
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to read Rebecca Ley’s wonderful debut novel, which is out on September 3rd. Sylvia is a complex, nuanced, entirely convincing character who, as I say in my full review here, is the kind of female protagonist fiction needs far more of. This is definitely one not to miss.
Inside The Beautiful Inside by Emily Bullock (2020)
I love it when you think you’ve read the best of the month’s books and then, right towards the end, an absolute belter knocks you for six. I cannot express how much I loved this punchy, bold, utterly immersive voyage into the mind of marine James Norris – it is a book I will definitely be revisiting. You can read further ravings on its brilliance here. This novel has stormed onto my Top Reads of 2020 list for sure.
Long Live The Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth translated by Charlotte Barslund (2020)
I honestly would not have expected a novel about a PR consultant working on an assignment for the Norwegian Postal Service to be such an emotional, philosophical read. I think this book is wonderful, and I would urge you to seek it out. You can read my full review here.
Eight incredible, very different books: I notice that somehow I have once again fallen into reading only novels this month, so I need to be on the lookout for some short story collections and perhaps even (gasp) non-fiction to balance the scales. Still, I regret nothing – it has been an amazing month of reading, and many of these books are ones I want to read again.