In this week’s rundown of the best reads in shops now, the Mirror Book Club shines a spotlight on Dear NHS: 100 Stories To Say Thank You, a collection of writings from such stars as Paul McCartney, Julie Walters and the Hairy Bikers.
All proceeds will go to charity from the book which begins with Graham Norton and will make you chuckle with Lewis Capaldi.
We also review four other books out this week. Enjoy!
Dear NHS: 100 Stories To Say Thank You, Edited by Adam Kay
(All proceeds go to charity)
This book is the literary equivalent of the Clap For Carers, a love letter to NHS workers written by grateful celebrities.
We hear from Paul McCartney, Julie Walters, the Hairy Bikers and rapper Professor Green (presumably not the same Professor Green that Stephen Fry thanks for treating his asthma).
The book begins with Graham Norton recalling how the NHS saved his life when a mugger stabbed him. We hear from others who owe the NHS their lives, such as activist Malala Yousafzai.
There are also everyday accounts of how the NHS helps people deal with childbirth, chronic illness or dementia.
Jimmy Carr brought tears to my eyes with his account of his mother’s last hours. But there are far more belly laughs than sad moments.
I loved Peter Capaldi’s account of being hit too hard by Brian Blessed while filming a fight scene for a period drama, and ending up in hospital in full 18th century costume.
There are many stories about workers going the extra mile. Michael Palin reveals that when his Python pal Terry Jones had a bowel operation, the staff photographed it for him as he’d always wondered what it looked like.
This book reminds us why we should have been clapping NHS workers long before the pandemic started.
BY JAKE KERRIDGE
Rodham, by Curtis Sittenfeld
When Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton fell in love in 1971, she was “the smartest person at Yale” and he was a charmer with political ambitions.
How would their story have unfolded if they hadn’t married? Here Hillary declines Bill’s proposal but moves with him to Arkansas, where they break up because of his “compulsive infidelity”.
By 2015, Bill is a tech billionaire and Hillary’s a senator who is considering running for president. Thought provoking, compelling and utterly plausible, Rodham offers a fascinating glimpse into an alternative future.
BY EMMA LEE-POTTER
The Weekend, by Charlotte Wood
Sylvie has died and along with her goes a lifelong, four-cornered friendship which no longer feels so balanced.
As 70-somethings Jude, Wendy and Adele clear out Sylvie’s house, a lifetime of simmering grievances threaten to engulf them.
Jude is brittle and frostily efficient, Wendy is a feminist academic, and Adele a vain out-of-work actor.
It’s a perfect and irresistibly warm study of friendship and the intricate mesh of micro-tensions, resentments and fondness that bind them together but may tear them apart. Wood is an exceptional writer.
BY ROSIE HOPEGOOD
Boy Swallows Universe, by Trent Dalton
4th Estate, £8.99
Set in Brisbane’s gritty working-class suburbs in 1983, and inspired by real-life events in journalist Dalton’s childhood, this compelling debut novel tells the story of 13-year-old Eli who’s coping with a jailbird mum, a drug-dealing stepdad, a missing father and an older brother who refuses to speak.
Then Eli falls in love for the first time and has an unexpected encounter with one of Brisbane’s most terrifying criminals.
Lit up by love and a madcap imagination, Eli is determined to overcome the obstacles that life pitches him in this captivating coming-of-age story. BY EITHNE FARRY
Small Pleasures, by Clare Chambers
It’s 1957 and lonely journalist Jean, 39, lives a life of silent despair, sharing a house with her mother.
Then Gretchen Tilbury contacts her with an outlandish claim – that her 10-year-old daughter is the result of a virgin birth.
As Jean begins to uncover the truth, she becomes part of the family.
And charming Howard, Gretchen’s husband, makes her wonder if happiness could still lie within grasp.
It is a glorious piece of storytelling where powerful emotions and awful revelations are treated with a dignity that makes them all the more devastating.
BY EITHNE FARRY
Join the Mirror Book Club
There’s never been a better time to get lost in a good book… so we’d love you to join the friendly Mirror Book Club community on Facebook.
Members share their thoughts on the chosen book of the month, they post recommendations of other books they’ve enjoyed – such as thrillers, romances and memoirs – and exchange book news and views.
So if you enjoy stories and the company of fellow bookworms then we think you’ll love our group too.
So if you enjoy books, stories and the company of fellow bookworms then we think you’ll love our group too. Mirror Book Club members have chosen The Familiars by Stacey Halls as the latest book of the month.
The year is 1612 and Fleetwood Shuttleworth, 17, is pregnant for the fourth time. But as mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child. And her doctor says she will not survive another pregnancy.
Young midwife Alice promises to help her and, after Alice is drawn into witchcraft accusations, Fleetwood risks everything to help her.
We’d love you to give The Familiars a read and let the Mirror Book Club know what you think. We’ll print your feedback on these pages on July 24.
You can share your thoughts in the Mirror Book Club Facebook group.