Love and Friendship
This month we look at books surrounding the theme of love and friendship. The two novels focus on unrequited love and childhood love, deep lasting friendships with blurred lines. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip are surely one of the longest love stories of our age. A deep and lasting friendship that has survived through so much. There is a wonderful section in the wildcard book about sustaining love to which I think our Platinum Jubilee Monarch could add her own extraordinary achievement.
Thank you so much to our fabulous sponsors “Victoria Eggs” a royal name for a royal celebration. Victoria has created a truly beautiful Jubilee collection of mugs, aprons and all things beautifully British – tea towels, tea cups and of course biscuits!
The intricately hand-drawn design was inspired by the incredible dress worn by The Queen during her Coronation in 1952. Featuring embroidered flowers from every country in the Commonwealth including the Tudor rose (England), thistle (Scotland), leek (Wales), shamrock (Ireland), wattle (Australia), maple leaf (Canada), fern (New Zealand), protea (South Africa), lotus flowers (India and Ceylon) and wheat, cotton, and jute (Pakistan) it is the most beautiful design to celebrate an extraordinary lady.
Love and Friendship books selected by Rebecca Fletcher
When it comes to charting the course of true love, detailing disastrous dates or evoking the greatest of friendships on the page, it goes without saying that there’s probably an Everest-high stack of worthy bookish candidates that would fit the bill. Affairs of the heart are a tricky business and us readers can’t seem to get enough of them. I think it was Marilyn Monroe who said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” I’m almost 100% positive that the female protagonists in this month’s selection would definitely agree with Marilyn’s mantra. Welcome to the emotional rollercoaster ride as we share our Are You Sitting Comfortably’s top picks on the theme of love and friendship.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
The Paper Palace had me hooked from the first page. It’s visceral, arresting and there’s a deepness of feeling that take the reader to the edge as the author explores the complexities and fragility of relationships. The Times described it as a ‘novel of sensations’ and I couldn’t agree more. It was also on this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist.
One August morning, Elle Bishop heads off to swim in the pond below ‘The Paper Palace’ – the holiday home in Cape Cod that her family have visited for generations. As she passes the house, she spies the discarded detritus of last night’s late dinner through the screen door. Memories of an unexpected passionate encounter, as her husband and mother chatted to guests inside, flood her mind. As a story which spans over fifty years unfolds, decades of family legacies, love, lies and deception all begin to resurface as Elle must decide between the world she has made with her husband, Peter, and her childhood love, Jonas, and the secret they’ve kept hidden all these years.
Think love triangles, palpable sexual tension, the bonds of friendship and another life imagined, there’s something irresistibly seductive about this novel that will keep you turning the pages.
Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn
Discovering The Camomile Lawn one weekend at my granny’s house sandwiched between a selection of Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy titles when I was in my mid-teens, I devoured it in one sitting and have never forgotten it. This is such a favourite of both mine and Rebecca’s – the sheer delight of diving back into Mary Wesley’s witty, insightful and razor-sharp portrayal of love and friendship in her second and much-acclaimed novel was something we couldn’t resist. Mary Wesley shot to fame in 1983 at the age of 71, her own wonderfully tempestuous love life no doubt providing much of the inspiration for Calypso and Polly in this story of the end of innocence and the turbulent passions of youth.
It is the summer of 1939 and war looms imminently as five cousins gather together at their aunt and uncle’s house in Cornwall for their annual holiday. For Oliver, Calypso, Polly and Walter, these moments may be the last carefree days of their youth. Then there’s Sophie, their 10-year-old cousin Sophy who has been taken in by Aunt Helena and Uncle Richard, always on the fringes and never quite fitting in. Love unrequited, loss, jealousy, passion, infidelity, blurred lines, this is a book I could endlessly fall in love with.
Our third and final choice this month is Natasha Lunn’s Conversations on Love: Lovers Strangers Parents Friends Endings Beginnings
Years of longing, feeling that love was perhaps out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn reflected on her own experiences of love and turned to authors and experts in a series of intimate interviews to try to make sense of what makes relationships tick and how they evolve. The result was this insightful, tender-hearted book which explores and investigates love in its many forms. From Phillipa Perry on falling in love slowly and Candice Carty-Williams on friendship to the psychology of being alone with Alain de Botton and Dolly Alderton on vulnerability, each conversation offers stories of human connection that are hopeful, honest but above all, heartwarming. As Natasha writes so eloquently in her introduction – ‘Answering these questions is a never-ending task, and this is one of the greatest lessons I have learnt: love is a lifelong project, a story that we can’t skip to the end of. How lucky are we, to know we will never finish it? Because there is never a final page, only a series of beginnings. This is one of them.’
Thank you so much to our fabulous sponsor Victoria Egg – use “COUNTRYCOTTAGE” code for 15% off these much sought after designs xxx