Some Books To Take On Your Hols That Definitely Aren’t Rubbishy Chick Lit

But also, aren't so heavy they'll leave you crying into your pina colada.


by Alexandra Heminsley |
Published on

**How to Build a Girl - Caitlin Moran **


Caitlin has been front and centre of the recent explosion in feminist non-fiction writing, but this is her first novel since 1992’s fantasy The Chronicles of Narmo. And we’re in the early '90s here, in a world not dissimilar to Caitlin’s own upbringing: Council estate in Wolverhampton, unreliable parents, home-schooling and a lot of wanking. The pages are heaving with properly lolzy set pieces, all told with the real tenderness of someone who had a crappy time as a teen and wishes an easier, ahem, ride for her readers. Caitlin’s personal narrative is not unfamiliar, but her explosive talent on the page is undeniable.

Out July 3

**The Fair Fight - Anna Freeman **


Bin everything you thought you knew about Regency-set novels, and prepare for a proper female-led, rollicking adventure. We’re in late 18th century Bristol, and it’s pretty grimy, but what looks like it’s going to be a classic ‘prostitutes and merchants’ love story turns into something so much more fun when the world of female boxing is introduced. Ruth, a one-time prostitute, and Charlotte, a neglected aristocrat’s wife, form an unlikely friendship which leads to so much more than scandalised conversation over the bone china. Jane Austen meets Tipping The Velvet, this is a properly fun feminist read, with gloves on.

Out in August

**Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey **


Sure, a page-turner about dementia is everyone’s ideal holiday real. No seriously, this one actually is. Maud is our intrepid heroine, an adorable granny who can’t remember why she’s wearing her cardigan back to front but can remember fragments that are nagging her about the disappearance of her sister in the 1940s. When her pal, Elizabeth, suddenly isn’t at home, the panic stirs more from her memory, and in her confusion the crime starts to become clearer – but how to express this to a family that won’t let you even boil an egg? Deeply unsexy premise but, as her memories overlap, it’s gobsmackingly cleverly done.

Available now

**The Secret Place - Tana French **


There are few places scarier than an exclusive girls boarding schools, and this is used to great effect here. A year ago, a boy from the neighbouring school was found murdered in the grounds of St Kilda’s, and now one of the girls has come forward with a clue that might change (indeed, restart) the entire investigation. But teen girls living in such a febrile environment are pretty good liars, not least to themselves. There is a pleasing frisson between the two lead detectives, each with much to prove, and the interview scenes with both teachers and pupils are a brilliantly fresh take on the crime genre. Prime Suspect meets* Heathers*. You’ll get sunburnt reading this one.

Out in August

**The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton **


The book of the summer, even if you think you hate historical fiction. Here, 18-year-old Nella arrives in Amsterdam an innocent. She’s marrying a man – albeit a rich merchant – she’s barely met, and his is clearly a house rammed with secrets. His sister is cold, his servants are suspicious and, frankly, his gift of a miniature cabinet-sized replica of her new home is a bit creepy … And that’s before the figurines representing them start to mimic, then predict, their actions. Everything changes when she uncovers her husbands biggest secret, and what follows is a tender, genuinely inspiring and surprisingly feisty coming of age story – as well as some bloody delicious-sounding banquets.

Available now

Follow Alexandra on Twitter @Hemmo

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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