The Cautious Traveller’s Guide to the Wastelands by Sarah Brooks

An adventure, a conspiracy and a love letter to wilderness. This story takes place on the Trans-Siberian Express’ latest journey across the ‘wastelands’, following a mysterious disaster that none of the previous journey’s travellers can remember. 
Three key characters all have their own theories about what happened and are hiding secret agendas. Weiwei was born on the Trans-Siberian Express and is more connected to the train and the crew than anyone else alive. Henry is an ambitious naturalist who sees the wasteland as something to be categorised and claimed. Marya is hiding her true identity, hoping to clear her family’s name by discovering the truth about the last journey. 
The alternative-Victorian and steampunk setting creates a unique backdrop for the magical and surreal occurrences that are seeping in from the wastelands to impact the travellers and the train itself. Before long, the wasteland’s twisting magic begins to pull apart the façade and plans of all on board. 

*Tickets still available for our event with Sarah Brooks in conversation with Natasha Pulley*

Of Saints and Miracles by Manuel Astur

Of Saints and Miracles by Manuel Astur is a captivating blend of folk realism and social commentary. Set in the rural landscapes of Asturias, it tells the story of Marcelino, an outcast whose escape into the wilderness after his brother’s betrayal transforms him into a folk hero. Astur’s lyrical prose and vivid storytelling make this a stirring exploration of isolation, identity and the clash between tradition and modernity with the relentless passage of time. Perfect for fans of Gabriel García Márquez’s magical realism and Annie Proulx’s nature-centric narratives.

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune

If you (like me) are desperate to find the perfect slice of summer escapism, this novel is it! Best enjoyed on the beach with a crisp glass of vinho Verde in hand… 

Lucy lives in bustling Toronto, running herself into the ground building her dream floristry business. But once a year she escapes the city to stay with her best friend Bridget’s family on Prince Edward Island – a beautiful, wild, gentle place with a completely different pace of life. With her best friend at her side, the sand between her toes, and the sea stretching endlessly in front of her, this should be the one week of the year when Lucy feels most at peace, except for one problem. 

Five years ago, on Lucy’s first trip to the island, she met Felix, a beautiful stranger who she shared one incredible night with. But this was no stranger – he’s her best friend’s little brother, and if Bridget ever found out there would be hell to pay. This novel unfolds five years of stunning summers, true friendships, and simmering romantic tension in perfect harmony. Addictive and escapist, this is the romance novel we all need right now! 

After Annie by Anna Quindlen

My read of the month is this beauty of a novel about a family riding the precarious wave of loss after the death of Annie Brown. Her life is revealed to us in sparkling scenes of domesticity by her daughter, husband and best friend, from first date to fifth child. Though the story touches on some heavier themes, there is room here to breathe and real moments of joy that flutter like a lost reel of film, cut up and spliced back together again. The story flows so elegantly between past cornerstones and current-day events that it’s hard not to imagine Annie vibrantly alive. For fans of Zorrie, I Am Lucy Barton and Instructions for a Heatwave.