Delicious summer reads

 Days of Grace by Catherine Hall is an intriguing coming of age novel set in war-time Britain. Hall tells the story of woman filled with love and passion, but also tortured by guilt and shame. The themes of novel are timeless and the storytelling is eloquent.

Nora Lynch, a poor young Irish girl is sent to the English countryside at the start of World War Two. She is immediately taken into the vicar’s family where she becomes a surrogate sister to their daughter. She is also caught up in a web of secrets and drama that shapes the rest of her life. As she takes on the education and accent of the middle-class, her life swerves in a direction she could never have imagined.
The story alternates between past and present. Now an old woman in London, Nora has chance to make peace with a secret that has haunted her for years. Days of Grace is a compelling tale of forbidden love, passion, compassion, and redemption. I could not put it down.
Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate is a quick feel-good read. It’s perfect for a day by the pool, or to wile away a rainy night. The story, involving mortgage fraud and homeless families, is ripped from today’s headlines. Seventeen-year-old Tam Lambert finds out her family’s finances are rocky when their house is foreclosed on. She, her emotional stepmother and four toddler step-sibs are forced to move. They end up in a small house in one of the father’s questionable housing projects. The little family has little cash and no idea when their father, who has fled, will be back. Tam has to take control of her sibs with the help of her eccentric aunt. She also has to cope with a stepmother who has lost it and spends her time parting, crying, or zonked out. 
Tam is befriended by her neighbour Shasta, a young mother on a tight budget. They manage a tribe of kids, get involved in the neighbourhood, and deal with their respective crises as they hope for the future to resolve them. Tam wants her dad to come home. Shasta is worried about bills and telling her husband she might be pregnant . On top of it all, the houses in their neighbourhood are all part of  a crooked mortgage scheme.
The book is full of colourful, heart-warming characters. I enjoyed it. Pick it up if you need a lift.