My Summer Reading List
April, 2017
My Summer Reading List

Laura Butler-Madden's Summer Reads

Those who know me well, will know that I am a bit of a book worm. I love nothing more on a cold winter’s/warm summer’s day than finding a quiet spot and curling up with my kindle (or a real book). I can lose hours at a time! I always have a long list of books that I am waiting to read and often will be reading more than one at a time, which can get occasionally get a little confusing…

At this time of year whilst it’s still a bit chilly here (I’ve had to get my favourite Eileen Fisher chunky knit back out these last few days!), I start compiling my summer reading list. Holidays are the time when I get most reading done as at home, work and life tend to take over. Unless we have an empty weekend (which recently hasn’t been very often at all), most of my at home reading is at bedtime and I’m usually asleep after only a few pages.

Relaxing by a pool or on the beach is my prime reading time and I like to research and compile my list now, so that I have time to get excited.

This year I have a really mixed of new releases on my list and I’m proud to say that three books are by people I know. It’s exciting to get to the stage in life when friends are starting to achieve very tangible and grown up things, like having books published!

Jo Malone My Story

Jo Malone: My Story – I am so looking forward to reading this. Jo is such an inspirational woman having created not one, but two hugely successful fragrance brands. I am a huge fan of both Jo Malone and Jo Loves fragrances and am really looking forward to reading her story.

“Jo Malone is the inspirational British businesswoman responsible for creating her globally renowned beauty business and, more recently, her new brand ‘Jo Loves’. This, her first autobiography, tells in full her incredible journey from modest beginnings as a teenager, struggling with dyslexia and leaving school with no qualifications, to becoming an international brand name and one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Jo’s lively story explores how her fascination with smell teamed with her natural ability to create world-famous blends such as ‘Lime, Basil & Mandarin’, revolutionised the way we think about fragrance. Yet, despite her success, she has faced huge challenges with courage and determination, including being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37 and told she only had nine months to live, and her decision to go it alone after selling the original Jo Malone brand to the Estee Lauder Corporation and walking away in 2006.

Jo’s commitment and down-to-earth approach to life, work and family makes her one of the most likeable and well respected personalities in British retail and her honesty, hard work and entrepreneurial grit are an inspiration to all.”

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan HuntleyWe Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley – I’ve been a long standing fan of New York, since I first visited aged 18. From the days of Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, I have devoured many novels set in Manhattan and I can’t wait to get started on this one!

“Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection–his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . ” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.”

Laura Butler-Madden's Summer Reads

Transantlantic Marriage Bureau

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau by Julie Ferry – this is the first book on the list written by someone I know. I studied English Literature with Julie at university and though we haven’t seen each other in a while, we are in touch on social media and I was thrilled to see that her first book has recently been published. It looks right up my street and I can’t wait to get lost in this fascinating world.

“Fame, money, power, prestige, perhaps even love – these were some of the reasons for the marriages that took place between wealthy American heiresses and the English aristocracy in 1895. For a few, the marriages were happy but for many others, the matches brought loneliness, infidelity, bankruptcy and divorce. Focusing on a single year, The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau tells the story of a group of wealthy American heiresses seeking to marry into the English aristocracy.

From the beautiful and eligible debutante Consuelo Vanderbilt, in love with a dashing older man but thwarted by her controlling mother, Washington society heiress Mary Leiter who married the pompous Lord Curzon and became the Vicereine of India, Maud Burke, vivacious San Francisco belle with a questionable background, this book uncovers their stories. Also revealed is the hidden role played Lady Minnie Paget and Consuelo Yzanga, Dowager Duchess of Manchester, two unofficial marriage brokers who taught the heiresses how to use every social trick in the book to land their dream husband.

The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau dashes through the year to uncover the seasons, the parties, the money, the glamour, the gossip, the scandal and the titles, always with one eye on the two women who made it all possible.”

The Riviera Express

The Riviera Express by TP Fielden – this is a novel by my Godmother’s husband – he has written many successful biographies in the past, but this is his first foray into fiction. It has received fantastic reviews in the press and I am so looking forward to reading this whilst sitting in the sunshine with a glass of wine!

“Gerald Hennessey – silver screen star and much-loved heart-throb – never quite makes it to Temple Regis, the quaint Devonshire seaside town on the English Riviera. Murdered on the 4.30 from Paddington, the loss of this great man throws Temple Regis’ community into disarray.

Not least Miss Judy Dimont –corkscrew-haired reporter for the local rag, The Riviera Express. Investigating Gerald’s death, she’s soon called to the scene of a second murder, and, setting off on her trusty moped, Herbert, finds Arthur Shrimsley in an apparent suicide on the clifftops above the town beach.

Miss Dimont must prevail – for why was a man like Gerald coming to Temple Regis anyway? What is the connection between him and Arthur? And just how will she get any answers whilst under the watchful and mocking eyes of her infamously cantankerous Editor, Rudyard Rhys?”

Laura Butler-Madden's Summer Reads

The Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa MontefioreThe Last Secret of the Deverills by Santa Montefiore – I am such a huge fan of Santa Montefiore’s work. Her novels are so soft and gentle and always transport you to another place. From South America to Italy, Ireland or Cornwall, her stories usually span generations and are the most perfect way to start your holiday. Last year I read the second book in her first ever trilogy, Daughters of Castle Deverill
, which I loved. I can’t wait to read the next instalment available to pre-order on Amazon now.

“It is 1939 and peace has flourished since the Great War ended. But much has changed for the Deverill family and now a new generation is waiting in the wings.

Martha Wallace came to Dublin from her home in America to find her birth mother. But instead she has lost her heart to the impossibly charming JP Deverill. Then she discovers that her mother comes from the same place as JP, and her fate seems sealed.

Bridie Doyle, now Countess di Marcantonio and mistress of Castle Deverill, is determined to make the castle she used to work in her home. But her flamboyant husband Cesare has other ideas. And as his eye strays away from his wife, those close to the couple start to wonder if he really is who he says he is.

Kitty Deverill has come to terms with her life with her husband Robert, and their two children. But thenJack O’Leary, the love of her life, returns to Ballinakelly. And this time his heart belongs elsewhere…

This summer discover the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Deverill Chronicles.”

The Diamond Connection

The Diamond Connection by Josie Goodbody – this is another debut novel from a super witty and talented school friend of mine. It’s a mystery based on a character called Jemima Fox. She is really fun and very likeable and I have read (and would highly recommend) this book. The reason I’ve added it to my list of Summer reads, is that Josie is currently completing her second Jemima Fox mystery, and I’m hoping it will be ready in time for Summer!

“The most expensive diamond necklace in the world is stolen during a high-profile charity gala in London. Jemima Fox-Pearl, Head of PR at fine jewellery house Vogel, travels between London, South Africa and New York in a bid to solve the crime, while unravelling a century-old mystery of the Cullinan Diamond’s fabled missing part.

With love, intrigue, danger and disaster, The Diamond Connection is an enthralling read while Jemima is an exciting new heroine who readers will immediately love.”

What have you got on your Summer reading list? If you have any recommendations then please comment below – there’s always room for a few more!

Laura x

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Photography by Marlene Lee