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If your summer holiday has been cancelled or you're planning a relaxing staycation this summer, create the escapism you need with the perfect book and accompanying recipe. Fancy a trip to Spain? A jaunt to France? A getaway to Greece? Recreate those vacation vibes in your own home with a delicious feast and a sensational story that'll whisk you away to wherever you want to go.
Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas
Spirit yourself away to the hazy sunshine of Provence with Escape to the French Farmhouse. In this feel-good sunbeam of a book, Del finds herself starting a new life in the South of France, with no husband and just the smell of lavender to inspire her fresh start. With one humble recipe, she turns her life around - just as with the glorious lavender and lemon drizzle cake below, you can bring a little taste of France to your own summer. Feel the sun on your face, taste the floral fancies of the lavender fields, and pretend you're in a farmhouse of your own.
Desperately Seeking Summer by Mandy Baggot
Feel like being swept off your feet on a sweltering Greek getaway? Plunge yourself into Desperately Seeking Summer, the feel-good romantic comedy that is sunshine in book form. Abby escapes to Corfu for a break, but gets more than she bargained for when she has to rescue her family's business, and meets gorgeous Theo along the way. Throw together a fresh Greek salad shining with olives, tomatoes and a gleaming combination of honey and olive oil, and combined with the book you could be sitting on a veranda in Greece, soaking up the sun as well as the summer flavours.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Sometimes in life, you just need to hit the beach. And at the beach you need sun, sand, a brilliant book to read - and preferably a deliciously creamy ice cream to top it all off. Beach Read is the uplifting, tender, feel-good love story of the summer, and Nigella's indulgent yet easy-to-make pomegranate ice cream is the perfect companion. Sweet and fruity, whip up a heavenly bowl to enjoy all to yourself as you sink into the simmering love story that'll leave you tingling all over - a story about two writers, who may just end up writing their own love story instead of their planned bestsellers...
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
If you're sad that your summer holiday has been cancelled, turn to Marian Keyes and her dazzling novel Grown Ups. Marian can lift the lowest of spirits, and will see you crying cathartic tears as well as laughing with joy, and appreciating the ups and downs of life. What's more, this talented author is a keen baker and lover of chocolate. So serve up a decent slice of choco-mocha cake alongside this wonderful slab of a book, and sink into the family drama full of colourful characters, spilled secrets and unforgettable laugh out loud moments. Like the cake, this book is sweet, moresih and irresistible - and the cake itself is the showstopper for any summer garden party (or just for some me-time reading, we reckon.)
Then. Now. Always. by Isabelle Broom
Transport yourself to Spain with the escapist page-turnerThen. Now. Always. Hannah ends up on the dream work trip to Spain with her dashing boss, and other awkward colleagues who just keep getting in the way. You'll be able to taste the paella and the sangria from here - especially if you make the accompanying tipple we recommend! Brimming with fruit and finished with a flourish of lemonade, it's the sparkling taste of Spain that, coupled with this absorbing story, will keep you entertained on the long, light summer evenings.
Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery by Cathy Bramley
For those of you who missed the lockdown trends, who want to jump on the baking bandwagon OR simply love the smell of fresh bread, settle down with Hetty's Farmhouse Bakery, a light, lovely read that's the ultimate comfort this summer. Pair it with this wonderfully easy yet heavenly mug bread from James Morton, and you'll be wrapped in the pure bliss of great storytelling and freshly baked, good-smelling bread all summer long. Who needs to escape to a local bakery in the countryside? With this heart-warming novel and this wonderful recipe, you've got everything you need right here.
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
A bewitching, atmospheric crime story set in the English countryside, this is a book with bite that you won't be able to put down. It's about a naïve young woman, and the glamorous couple she is at first so charmed by, with their lavish dinners and lies. If you like something deliciously dark to draw you in, put this on your summer reading list and you won't be disappointed. Just like Nigella's chicken traybake with bitter orange and fennel, it's impressive, full of zest and flavour, and will leave you wanting more.
An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof
After weeks of lockdown and the ever-building pressures of real life, don't you fancy packing it all in and heading for an adventure? That's exactly what Ann and her husband did in the nineties, when they left their jobs, rented out their house and sailed around the world in pursuit of a new life, swapping deadlines and stress for bare feet and beaches. Recreate a little island life for yourself with Ainsley Harriott's tempura lobster, served with boozy rum salsa and coconut piña colada sauce. Let your tastebuds be tantalised by the sweetness, the spices and the light crisp of the batter, and slip into your own Caribbean dream thanks to this dazzling dish and gem of a book.
Truth to Tell by Mavis Cheek
Wishing you were in Venice, enjoying gelato on a gondola, or silky pasta in the sun? Opt for the next best thing with this glittering novel about Nina, a woman who decides to shake up her life and rediscover herself on a trip to Italy. It's funny, life-affirming and gleaming with Venetian vibes, pretty piazzas, sparkling canals and all. What's more, you can live the Venetian dream and eat pasta for breakfast with this gorgeous Sausage and Egg Bucatini - as smooth, comforting and self-indulgent as it gets. Happiness really is a bowl of pasta and a cracking good book.
Watermelon by Marian Keyes
Nothing says summer like the freshness of watermelon - and nothing ELSE says summer like the incomparable entertainment of a Marian Keyes novel. If you're staying local this summer, embrace all the home comforts you can to make it the best staycation yet, with Nadiya's halloumi and watermelon skewers (perfect for the BBQ) and a book that'll have you hooked (perfect for any summer's night). Don't blame us if you burn the skewers, simply because you can't look away from this wonderful whirlwind of a story. It's about family, and friendship, and nursing a broken heart - something this mouth-watering recipe might also be able to help with, in fact.
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