Feed your Inner Bookworm with Toad Hall Cottages’ Good Read Guide

So many of our guests tell us that one of the best ways they unwind during their holidays is with their nose in a good book.

If the West Country weather outside is wet and wild, what better way to escape than to curl up on the sofa inside your toasty holiday cottage with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, gripped by the pages of your latest novel.


If you’re looking for a book to help you while away the hours whilst on your Autumn holidays maybe we can help. Toad Hall Cottages asked The Harbour Book Shop on Mill Street, Kingsbridge, for its latest book recommendations for adult readers.

Top Five Riveting Reads for Adults…

1. Conclave by Robert Harris

Genre: Suspense and Thriller, Literary Fiction, Crime Mystery

The best-selling author of Enigma and Fatherland turns to today’s Vatican in a ripped-from-the-headlines novel, and gives us his most ambitious, page-turning thriller yet – where the power of God is nearly equalled by the ambition of men…

“The pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on Earth.”

2. The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel

The Sunday Times Bestseller – shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize

Genre: Non-fiction, Nature, Wildlife

‘Traditional ploughland is disappearing. Seven cornfield flowers have become extinct in the last twenty years. Once abundant, the corn bunting and the lapwing are on the Red List. The corncrake is all but extinct in England. And the hare is running for its life.’

“Written in exquisite prose, The Running Hare tells the story of the wild animals and plants that live in and under our ploughland, from the labouring microbes to the patrolling kestrel above the corn, from the linnet pecking at seeds to the seven-spot ladybird that eats the aphids that eat the crop. It recalls an era before open-roofed factories and silent, empty fields, recording the ongoing destruction of the unique, fragile, glorious ploughland that exists just down the village lane.”

3. The Songbird by Marcia Willet

Genre: Fiction, Modern & Contemporary Fiction, Romance

“Can new hopes bloom when summer begins again? When Mattie invites her old friend Tim to stay in one of her family cottages on the edge of Dartmoor, she senses there is something he is not telling her. But as he gets to know the rest of the warm jumble of family by the moor, Tim begins to relax again and he discovers that everyone there has their own secrets. There is Kat, a retired ballet dancer who longs for the stage again; Charlotte, a young navy wife struggling to bring up her son while her husband is at sea; William, who guards a dark past he cannot share with the others; and Mattie …who has loved Tim in silence for years. As Tim begins to open up, Mattie falls deeper in love. And as summer warms the wild Dartmoor landscape, new hopes begin to bloom…

If you like books by Lucy Diamond, Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews, you’ll love Marcia Willett’s gloriously warm novels set in the West Country.”

4. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

 Genre: Fiction, Modern & Contemporary Fiction

‘What had there been before such a ship in my life? A dugout canoe on a river journey? A launch in Trincomalee harbour? There were always fishing boats on our horizon. But I could never imagine the grandeur of this castle that was to cross the sea’.

“In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy boards a huge liner in Colombo bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the lowly ‘cat’s table’ – as far from the Captain’s table as can be – with a ragtag group of adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean the boys tumble from one adventure to another, and at night they spy on a shackled prisoner – his crime and fate a mystery that will haunt them forever…”

5. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month February 2017
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2016

Genre: Fiction, Modern & Contemporary Fiction

‘What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment?’

“Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in ‘neutral’ Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him.

Gustav’s childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows. As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav’s life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined.

Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life’s hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.”


Special thanks to The Harbour Book Shop for its wonderful recommendations.

The Harbour Book Shop, in Kingsbridge, is a well-stocked independent bookshop holding a wide range of titles for all ages and interests. “Our stock is constantly updated with the latest publications and specially selected with our extremely discerning customers in mind.”