The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay.

Written for children, and set in the Edwardian era, The Skylark’s War provides cosy escapism into a very different time, but also offers parallels between then and now. Clarry, Peter and Rupert face a crisis (the first world war) that changes their lives, the lives of all those around them, and requires them to find the courage needed to deal with uncertain times. Although written for 9-12s, this is a family sage anyone can enjoy. 

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe. 

Eighteen year old Lizzie Vogel leaves home to take a job as a dental nurse in 1980s Leicester. Lizzie is to live in the flat above the surgery and is informed by Tammy, the other dental nurse, that J.P. Wintergreen, the unappealing dentist, will occasionally use her loo.  I love Nina Stibbe’s sharp observations and dry humour. This book made me laugh out loud which is why I’m recommending it as the perfect up-lifting quarantine read. 

An Equal Music by Vikram Seth.

A heart-achingly beautiful novel about lost love and new beginnings, An Equal Music, set in London and Vienna, follows the story of professional violinist Michael who sees his never forgotten love, Julia, on a London bus, ten years after their relationship ended. I’ve chosen An Equal Music as a calming and immersive isolation read. You can almost hear the classical music drifting through the pages.

Books I’ve never read that I’ll be able to read during quarantine: 

I’m currently reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a novel I’ve been wanting to read for years (and quite embarrassed to say I haven’t!). Having seen many adaptations of the book, it feels, even though it’s a first read, very familiar. I’m enjoying the aspirational Pip, the creepy Miss Havisham and spiteful Estella. Dickens is a wonderful writer to learn from. All his characters, even the very minor ones, really do leap off the page and there is so much humour in the character’s reactions and the narrator’s observations. 

Just before the bookshops closed, I picked up a lovely Penguin English Library edition of Little Women that I’m also hoping to read and don’t think I would have planed to otherwise. 

Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation has been on my TBR pile for far too long and I think it’s time to remedy that and make it my next contemporary read.