Top Three Reads for Summer
Last week we published The What’s Best Books Summer 2019, featuring 13 of our favorite books so far. But, when pressed to name our Top 3, we had to let the cat out of the bag. If you only have time to read a few books this summer (or this year), make it these. You won’t be disappointed.
The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer is my favorite book of the past several years. Orringer’s prose is like a butterfly wing–dazzling, intricate, precise, soaring. Her novel is the reimagining of the true story of Varian Fry, a dapper, hard-headed Harvard journalist who leaves his swank life in Manhattan to run a rescue network in the South of France that saved some of Europe’s finest painters, poets, writers, and intellectuals, as well 2,000+ other anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees during WWII. Varian’s motley crew of unlikely operatives includes a glamorous American heiress, a thieving Legionnaire, and a housekeeper with a heart of gold. They manage to carry out their duties with panache and ample bottles of French wine and champagne in threadbare Marseille. And as they successfully smuggle Europe’s intellectual capital to safer shores, they’re faced with hard questions about the value and hierarchy of human life, love, and loyalty.
The Editor by Steven Rowley is a positively delightful, witty story set in the early 90s in New York about a young-ish, gay author whose first manuscript is singled out by the inimitable Jackie O. who becomes his editor at Doubleday, a position she held in real life from roughly 1977-1993. It’s a wonderful book about the endless mystery between mothers and sons; the Camelot days of the Kennedys and then the Clintons in the 90s; forgiveness, and loving and supportive partnerships. This book exudes charm, similar to Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk, but with the added bonus of droll conversations and magical moments spent with Jackie (a fantasy I’m sure most people share). This is a book everyone will love and a must-gift for every Perennial on your list.
Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers. Hugo Best is a David Letterman-like late night talk show host who has a penchant for the ladies that eventually catches up with him. Feeling unmoored after his forced retirement he spontaneously invites a young, brooding comedy writer on his staff (whom he barely knows) for a long weekend at his luxurious compound in Connecticut. Despite their age gap, they find themselves at the same crossroads. Both share a mindset of desperation and uncertainty about what comes next and muddle through their despair together (think Lost In Translation). The exceedingly clever, comedic banter between the two is fun to read and their struggle through feelings of irrelevance and hopelessness that comes at retirement age but also right before the 30s feels all too familiar. Erin Somer’s debut novel is definitely worth staying up for.
-Gina Pell, The What Content Chief
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