Beach Reads Blog Tour 2015 Day 3 #BeachBooks @Alison_Williams #wwwblogs


Whoa! It’s Day 3 of our Holiday! With amazing book suggestions for your own vacation.

Beach Read Postcard

Today my guest is Alison Williams

Alison Williams

I’m very lucky in that my ideal holiday destination is actually where I’m going this year (and where I went last year) – a beautiful restored farmhouse in a secluded valley in the Lot-et-Garonne area of Aquitane in France. I love France – the food, the weather, the people, the attitude to life, and our holidays there are always wonderful. Lot-et-Garonne isn’t as well known or as touristy as some other regions in France and yet it is beautiful. I have an incredibly busy life and here I can truly relax, unwind and breathe. And read, of course.

I like to take a mixture of genres and a mixture of formats – some on Kindle because I can read seven or eight books a week when I’m on holiday and there just isn’t room for them all, and some paperbacks, because I appreciate it when other holidaymakers leave books for future guests, and I like to do the same.

A book about the place I’m going to.


As we’re in Aquitane, and because I am fascinated by history and particularly by women in history, I shall be taking Alison Weir’s ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England’. I love this area of France, and so I’d love to know more about its history. I’ve also read about Eleanor before – married to Louis VII and then England’s Henry II, her sons were Richard the Lionheart and King John. She had a huge influence on the politics of the time and lived to the ripe old age of eighty-two. A fascinating woman. Or find this book on

stephen king

A book that interests me

I’ll also be taking Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I read King’s novels voraciously as a teenager. I’ve heard excellent things about this book – part memoir, part writing master class – and can’t wait to read it. But realistically, a holiday is probably the only time I have when I’ll be able to read it thoroughly and properly. It’ll definitely have to be the paperback version – and it won’t be getting left behind. Or find this on


A book I’ve mean meaning to read for ages is Hilary Mantel’s ‘A Change of Climate’. Anyone who knows me at all knows I have a bit of an obsession with Hilary. She’s a marvellous writer and I love her novels. A holiday – where there are no pressures and no time constraints – is the ideal time to relax and give this book the attention it deserves. A family saga about ex-missionaries living in Norfolk, this is a book unlike the historical dramas that have made Mantel so popular, but a storyteller is a storyteller, and Mantel writes just as well about the modern day as she does about history. Or find it here on




For me a holiday is all about escaping the day-to-day and a book that I can really escape with is Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. I have no idea now how many times I’ve read it – with the exception of Hilary Mantel, the Brontes are the only writers I can read again and again – but every time I read it I’m swept away to those wild moors and can truly lose myself. This has to be read in paperback format – I have about five rather raggedy, well-thumbed copies, including the one I filched from my son when he had to study it for his English ‘A’Level (he is somewhat less enamoured!) so will leave one behind. Or find it here on

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

And of course, I’ll be leaving a copy or two of my own novelThe Black Hours’ . A very dark historical drama, based on the life of the notorious Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, ‘The Black Hours’ is probably best read in bright daylight (so you don’t get too scared) with a revitalising glass of wine or two at hand. Or find it here on

Now all I need is a guarantee of hot weather, a few bottles of the local red, and a pile of croissants and chocolate éclairs. Perfect.

Beach Reads Drift Wood

43 thoughts on “Beach Reads Blog Tour 2015 Day 3 #BeachBooks @Alison_Williams #wwwblogs

  1. Great selection here, Alison. Wuthering Heights definitely, and now you’ve reminded me about Stephen King’s masterclass, that’s on my list. Never read any Hilary Mantel, although highly acclaimed, so I’m intrigued and as for The Black Hours, I loved it, and have it on my shelf alongside my new copy of Dracula!


    • I’m honoured to be in such wonderful company as Dracula! Thoroughly recommend Hilary Mantel, particularly ‘A Place of Greater Safety’. I’ve read it three times and it will probably find a place my suitcase along with these books this year (again!).


  2. Really interesting choices, Alison.
    Am hooked on Hilary Mantel, too – since reading Eight Months on Ghazzah Street years ago.
    (And The Black Hours kept me reading until the early hours!)


  3. I approve massively of both locations, and book choices! Eleanor of Aquitaine fascinates me, too – I can get a tad Plantagenet obsessed! I’ve only read Wuthering once, as a teenager, and was very proud of myself for getting through the whole thing and actually enjoying it! Yep, love to read the Stephen King, too, and would you believe I’ve never read any Hilary Mantel????? I’m having a bit of a Norah Lofts phase at the moment, so maybe afterwards….

    A terrific day three, ladies!


  4. I imagine the Stephen King book will be fascinating and I shall add this to my list where it will sit alongside The Black Hours which has been waiting for me to get to it for a while. I haven’t read any Hilary Mantel, despite much nagging from my mother, so I must do that at some point as well…starting to think I’m going to need a longer holiday 🙂 Love the sound of your holiday choice Alison, blissful….


  5. Some great choices here. I love the 17th century and the civil war in particular. So your book is on my the pile, Alison. The BBC series made the Plantagents easier to understand and of course we have R3rds bones in my home city, so add that to the list. Have never read any Stephen king, but maybe I ought to!!!


  6. Rosie, I feel as though I’ve take over your blog 🙂 so thank you again for having me and letting me go on about the books and writers I love (hope I’ve made a few more Hilary converts today).


  7. Great choices, Alison. I just finished reading your book, and all I can say is wow! It was a scarey ride through a historical period that has always fascinated me (I grew up not so very far from Salem). Wonderfully written and I was invested in the characters from the beginning. How people could punish those poor women with medical gifts – who saved their lives? It reminds me how primitive the belief system was at that time, and susceptible the people were to suggestion.


  8. Heathcliffe and a farmhouse in France – what more could a person want? Some great choices and as someone said yesterday everyone so far has opted for such diverse books 😀


  9. Great choices! I really like Stephen King’s writing book–both entertaining and instructive. I haven’t seen that Hilary Mantel. I absolutely loved Wolf Hall on audio. I tried to read her ghost novel Beyond Black (I’m a ghost fiction enthusiast) but could not engage. I would like to try more of her books, though. I hope you have a lovely trip!


  10. Arriving late and agreeing with all the positive comments everyone’s made about Alison’s choices. On holiday in Norfolk a while ago now, unable to put it down, I finished reading Mantel’s Wolf Hall at 6.00 am so,The Black Hours has to be added to my TBR list, as well as Alison’s Mantel recommend. Also, I’ve been fascinated by stories about Eleanor of Aquitaine ever since standing on the ramparts of Chinon.


    • Ohh that reminds me of a great wine, we were introduced to the local delight of Chinon Rouge years ago when we had a short break in France, over here it’s all Chinon Blanc but the locals were keeping the Rouge to themselves.


      • Oh yes, the wine from around Chinon is memorable too. Feel inspired to get on the next train to France taking Alison’s beach reads of course. If only . . .


  11. Always buy the wine the locals drink. I hover behind them to see what they pick up! Love the French attitude to drinking wine – France is definitely my spiritual home 🙂


    • My first trip abroad was Paris and I felt immediately at home. Not just the French attitude to drinking wine that chimes, their attitude to most other things too.

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  12. I read Stephen King’s On Writing a while ago and enjoyed it enormously – I won’t be touching his real writing as it’s too scary. Have you read Mantel’s Giving up the Ghost (short memoir), it is excellent – funny, heartrending and infuriating.


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