The Sun Also Rises is probably my favourite sun-soaked book, but my favourite book about summer in England is definitely The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff. It’s something of a slow burner – although it’s about a family seaside holiday, they don’t actually get to the destination until page 106.
As with all Persephone books (because, of couse, it’s one of their lovely grey editions, it’s gentle and lovely and thoughtful. If you’ve ever been on a British bucket-and-spade-brigade holiday with your family, I’m sure much of it will ring true.
Although the weather isn’t quite so glorious as Hemingway’s hot ‘n’ heavy action in The Sun Also Rises (it is Bognor, rather than Basque country), The Fortnight in September captures our unique, somewhat panicky take on those surprise summer days so perfectly;
There is a feeling about the beginning of a cloudless day; an excited rustling as if invisible hands were rubbing together in anticipation over the roof tops: a droning murmur that seems to come from crowds of people collecting together buckets and spades, magazines and bath towels: all trying to assure themselves that there is no need to hurry – but trying frantically all the same to free themselves from the petty little things that hold them within the shade of their rooms.
Heartily recommend it for your summer reading lists – if you can handle a seriously slow pace, you’ll be rewarded with painfully lovely character profiles and perfectly observed detail. You can buy it in my Amazon bookshop, of course!
And, because you’ll want something to drink while you read your book in the sun, here’s a nice summer cocktail. For once, it’s not from Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book – this time it’s the Cafe Royal’s 1937 edition.
Excitingly, while browsing it for summer-sounding recipes, I found a contribution from F. Scott Fitzgerald! Well, we know how much he liked booze and he was certainly a supporter of other authors, so I reckon he’d be into R. C. Sherriff.
Well worth investing in some curaçao – although apparently triple sec is a fine and dandy substitute.
The Hot Night, invented by Fitz
1/6 orange juice
Shake and serve over ice.
[Picture by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1938 via the Art Deco Blog]