Lesley Pearse's Best Beach Reads

Lesley Pearse's Best Beach Reads

A beach read to me means a story that makes you forget the time, how hot it is, or even that you are uncomfortable. Here are some of my much-loved choices.

The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon  

There are four unforgettable main characters: calculating Noelle, a beautiful French actress whose desire for passion and vengeance takes her from the gutters of Paris to the bedroom of the powerful Greek tycoon Demiris; innocent Catherine, whose dream of love becomes a nightmare of fear, and Larry Douglas, a handsome war hero lured from his wife by a woman no man could resist. This sexy, exciting and totally riveting story gallops along at a brisk pace through New York, Paris and Athens from 1919 to 1947. I love that you learn the back story of each of the four so you can understand what motivates them to do what they do – yet however bad, their comeuppance makes you sad. Beware of sun burn while you are engrossed!  

World Without End by Ken Follett

In 1327 four children see two men killed in the forest outside Kingsbridge. As adults their lives become entwined together by desire, greed, determination and retribution, but always the events that happened in the forest when they were children remain with them and affect the rest of their lives. This a whopper of a book, centred around the building of Kingsbridge cathedral while prosperity, famine, plague and war hamper, aid or destroy the colourful residents of the town. An absolute page-turner with characters that jump off the pages.

Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

I almost ignored this book because of its title, but I’m very glad I didn’t and I am always recommending it to friends. It is a story of friendship and of mothers and daughters, the misunderstandings that create bad feeling, but also the enduring love at the centre of close relationships. Set in the steamy Deep South of America, it is also a story of passing through childhood into womanhood as the characters prepare for marriage and children, all the while hoping not to make the same mistakes their mothers did. Keep a tissue handy.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach

I was sent this book by my brother just before I went on holiday in India, and it had me creased up with laughter. The plot of the book is that Ravi, a doctor, arrives home one day to find his father-in-law Norman has moved in after being thrown out of his residential home for ‘inappropriate’ behaviour  with a nurse. Ravi can’t bear the thought of having Norman with them forever, so decides to start up a residential home for the elderly in Bangalore. Old people are treated with kindness there, and a little money goes a long way. All of the residents of the Exotic Marigold are very believable, and although the idea of sending old people off to live in India to release relatives from the burden is perhaps callous, this story is hilarious. You may wipe a few tears from your eyes, but laugh a great deal more. I adored the old lady who kept visiting the young people in the call centre opposite, taking an interest in them as if they were her family. You can’t help but think that such a place would be a far better alternative than to some of the nursing homes in England.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, this book is simply beautiful. I sometimes think that everything I know about Afghanistan and its people comes from Khaled, because he tells you about their lives, customs, the hardships during the war and the bleakness of life under the Taliban in such a way you almost experience it yourself. But he is such a great storyteller too; the lives of his characters are woven together like an intricate and colourful Persian carpet. Each one of them speaks to you, sharing their triumphs, heartbreaks and disappointments and stays in your heart and mind long after you’ve finished the book.


Forgive Me by Lesley Pearse is published in paperback by Penguin on 15th August.