5 new books to read in lockdown this week

This week’s bookcase includes reviews of Heaven And Earth by Paolo Giordano and Rolling Fields by David Trueba.

Enjoy a witty, green-fingered kid’s tale, and a dark, twisted summer read…

Fiction

1. Heaven And Earth by Paolo Giordano is published in hardback by W&N, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available June 11

Fourteen-year-old Teresa watches from behind a curtain as three boys strip naked and dive into the moonlit waters of her grandmother’s pool. It is the year everything changed. The year those bland summers she once resented became the gateway to something hot and urgent – spirituality, lust, jealously. Nicola, Tommaso and Bern – who Teresa will love for the rest of her life – were raised as brothers on the farm next door. But though Teresa injects herself into their world, it will be years before she truly realises the twisted depth of their brotherhood. Bonded by shared love and resentment, the boys’ seemingly unequivocal connection holds them together as much as it drives them apart – leaving Teresa to interpret where exactly she fits into their story. Raw and evocative, Giordano’s Heaven and Earth is a breathtaking and poignant creation that will leave you itching under the skin.
9/10
(Review by Scarlett Sangster)

2. Rolling Fields by David Trueba is published in hardback by W&N, priced £16.99 (ebook £7.99). Available June 11

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Forget lockdown and go on a road trip of a lifetime with #RollingFields by #davidtrueba. I first fell in love with this following the recommendation of my friend @camilladubini. She had read the Spanish edition and sent me the Italian manuscript. It was a day or so before I was supposed to go on a trip to Sardinia (the good old days): I printed the first 50 pages thinking I would read them on the plane. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the novel: suddenly I was in a small town in Sardinia without the rest of the book. Miraculously the tiny bookshop in the centre of town had ONE copy left. Fate, I guess. This is a gloriously funny and heartbreaking account of a life lived to the fullest. It’s about love and music and family and growing up in Catholic Spain. But it’s mostly about friendship. I am proud to publish #RollingFields in June in the beautiful translation by Rahul Bery. I hope you’ll enjoy the ride.

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David Trueba is highly regarded in his native Spain as a very successful novelist and filmmaker. His latest, Rolling Fields, spent weeks in the bestseller lists in Spain on its release in 2017. Now translated into English by Rahul Bery, it tells the story of Dani Mosca, a successful musician whose father has just died. The 40-year-old undertakes to accompany his father’s body in a hearse on a final trip back to his childhood village for internment there. The road trip becomes the pretext for a journey into Dani’s past, as he reflects on his relationship with his father, the revelation that he was adopted, the early years getting his band off the ground, conquests and relationships, heartbreak and tragedy. Not much happens in the present, so we are constantly thrown back into the past, much of which is a motley selection of anecdotage, pillow talk and hearsay. The style is light and readable, but somehow something gets lost in translation, and the book struggles to really hold your attention.
6/10
(Review by Dan Brotzel)

3. The Sight Of You by Holly Miller is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £12.99 (ebook £4.99). Available June 11

Joel has sworn off falling in love, but when he meets Callie he can’t help himself. However he has a secret – he dreams about the people he loves, and these dreams always come true. When he dreams about her one night, he must decide if he can stay, knowing how her story will end. The idea is an original concept, beautifully written and completely convincing. Told through both Joel and Callie’s eyes, The Sight Of You is a heart-wrenching love story that steers clear of being overly sentimental or soppy. It’s a romance that even those who normally steer clear of the genre will also enjoy. Perfect for fans of The Time Traveller’s Wife and In Five Years, this bittersweet novel is one that will stay with you.
8/10
(Review by Megan Baynes)

Non-fiction

4. Always Home: A Culinary Memoir by Fanny Singer is published in hardback by Seven Dials, priced £25 (ebook £12.99). Available now

Written by the daughter of Alice Waters, doyenne of Chez Panisse a Californian restaurant that changed the thinking about food being seasonal and local, with a focus on good ingredients rather than cheffiness. Waters promoted the farm to table way of eating and is an activist for good food in schools. This memoir is a series of vignettes or glimpses of Fanny’s life growing up living above the shop. Reading it, you’ll feel jealous of not being surrounded by the beauty her mother was able to create, or eating the delicious meals of her girlhood. There’s even a chapter devoted to how her mother cut up fruit, and interspersed are recipes that remind her of particular people or situations, or even a feeling – but this is most definitely not a cookery book. It is more a hymn to the pleasures of life, with summers spent in the South of France and good friends equally passionate about food. From Fanny being swaddled in dish towels and set inside a huge salad bowl at the restaurant, to the dish that feels like home to Fanny and Alice, foodies will love the insights into what living in that extraordinary situation was like. But whether you’ll ever cook an egg fried in a spoon in the fireplace, or rose hip jelly, seems much more unlikely.
6/10
(Review by Bridie Pritchard)

Children’s book of the week

5. Do Grannies Have Green Fingers by Fransie Frandsen is published in paperback by Artfox.Bookwolf, priced £7.99. Available June 11

In this delightful book, Alexander overhears his mum saying his granny has ‘green fingers’, after she wins yet another gardening award. Intrigued, he keeps a look out for other examples of green fingers – and along the way notices some other colours (such as his red-faced neighbour when Tinster the dog buries a bone in the next-door garden). The illustrations are the real treat. Collages from Frandsen, made of photographs and illustrations, provide brilliantly fun and engaging visual narration. As they’re layered, there’s the chance to spot new and amusing items during future reads. Text is kept simple and is positioned on different parts of the page, helping to keep things interesting for young minds. A short reference to recycling, lots of potential to spot and name different colours, and a trigger to talk about what common phrases mean (green fingers, or green with envy) all allow for plenty of fun ways to learn. Although some of the colour references might at times feel a little tenuous (avocado bubble bath), this book will doubtless keep both parent and child amused and entertained with its quirky originality.
7/10
(Review by Nicole Whitton)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING JUNE 6
AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)
1. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
2. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
3. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
4. Natives by Akala
5. Becoming by Michelle Obama
6. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
7. A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer
8. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
9. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
10. The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford
(Compiled by Audible)