Bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring and trustee of Dorset Museum
Summer is a great time for reading, when many of us have more time for it, whether while lazing in the garden or lying by a pool, or sitting on a plane or train. I’ve found that books are even more satisfying when I can spend longer chunks of time reading them.
I’ve chosen for you a wide variety of novels set in Dorset, my very favourite county. Adventure, history, romance, mystery, new books, and classics: there’s something for everyone here. Happy summer!
On 10 February 2023
Artist Dorset Gallery
will be closed all-day
My Summer reads
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
This sumptuous saga is predicted to be THE book of the summer. Think Downton Abbey meets the Cazalet Chronicles, but set in Dorset. Dazzling and entertaining, with a heroine you will love forever, this is a book worth missing your train stop for.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
Imagine Enid Blyton’s books for children contain secret codes leading to real treasure. This is the puzzle an ex-prisoner finds himself unexpectedly trying to solve – as will you!
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
Many have done their best Meryl Streep impression at the end of the Cobb in Lyme Regis, without ever having read this wonderful novel about forbidden Victorian passion. Few know this, but Fowles based heroine Sarah Woodruffe on one of my own personal heroines, the fossil hunter Mary Anning.
Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
A classic thriller in which our hero on the run hides out…in Dorset! A fast read with a satisfying twist. You’ll devour it in an afternoon.
Crow Court by Andy Charman
A murder mystery set in 19th century Dorset, this series of interlinked stories is cleverly structured and beautifully written – some of it in Dorset dialect. You will never look at crows the same way again!
Moonfleet by John Meade Falkner
A classic tale of smugglers along the Dorset coast, with treasure, kidnapping, and off-beat friendship all thrown into the mix. The Dorset landscape is an absolute star in this rip-roaring read.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Who would have thought the Granny’s Teeth steps on the Cobb at Lyme Regis could cause so much trouble? But when Louisa Musgrove impetuously jumps off them and hurts herself, it gives a pair of old lovers the chance to find their way back to each other. Austen’s last and most mature novel.
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The story of a disastrous first night of marriage, told in McEwan’s precise, chilly prose, this slim novel highlights one of Dorset’s most intriguing geographical features, the atmospheric Chesil Beach.
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Sometimes you need a break from the relentless misery of Tess or Jude. This Hardy novel perfectly fits that bill. The rich and impetuous heroine Bathsheba Everdene has 3 very different suitors to choose from, and wreaks havoc among them while trying to decide whom to marry. It also gives a full and fascinating picture of agricultural life in Dorset.
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