Literary Libations

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Ready to curl up with a good book and a refreshing tipple? Indulge in one of these pairings to while away a summer afternoon

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay is the first novel in his planned trilogy centred on the disturbing secrets of a small New York town, from kidnappings to a serial predator to ritualistic animal sacrifices. Pairing Mix yourself a Scotch cocktail, like the appropriately named Blood and Sand.

Confidence, Russell Smith’s new short story collection, takes an unflinching look at everything from violent tenants to ecstasy-taking PhD students to mommy bloggers and sex tapes. Pairing Something this of-the-moment requires trendy refreshment, so try a mezcal Negroni for a smoky au courant cocktail.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is a genre-bending dystopian thriller set in the Southwestern U.S. where water has become a scarce commodity and the Colorado River sits at the centre of an armed conflict. Pairing Obviously, this one will have you reaching for your water. Add some flavour with seasonal drinking vinegar.

The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark is set in motion by the sudden death of Lily on her 58th birthday – a day fraught with the competing attentions of her loving husband and doting sister. Pairing For this thoughtful and compassionate read, sip on a sherry, which is enjoying a serious resurgence in popularity.

The Girl on the Train, the runaway bestseller by Paula Hawkins, follows voyeuristic divorcee Rachel Watson, who peers into strangers’ windows on her daily commute. After she witnesses an infidelity, her role in a high-stakes mystery is clouded by her drunken blackouts. Pairing Forgo Rachel’s canned premixed gin and tonics and pour yourself a more sophisticated version using Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain – who brought Ernest Hemingway’s first wife to life in The Paris Wife – centres on 1920s aviator Beryl Markham and the complicated love triangle she shared with hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. Pairing Nothing says high-living ex-pats like Champagne. Drink as is or indulge in a mimosa.

Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor is a reimagined look at the life of reclusive American poet Emily Dickinson and her friendship with her young Irish maid. Pairing Dickinson penned, “I bring an unaccustomed wine, To lips long parching,” so consider a chilled crisp white, such as an Italian Pinot Grigio or an Old-World Chenin Blanc.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell, the author of Sex and the City, follows a writer whose novels about a young woman in Manhattan have spawned a series of blockbuster films. Now, the writer wants to try something new to the dismay of her publisher and fans. How meta.  Pairing Anything other than a Cosmopolitan just seems wrong.

Disclaimer, Renée Knight’s unsettling psychological thriller, explores the blurred lines between fiction and real life. Catherine, a documentary filmmaker, finds a book on her bedside table that is based on her long-buried secrets. Pairing Contrast the dark plot with some colourful sangria. Bonus: if you make a pitcher, you don’t have to put the book down to go get a refill.

In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume’s first adult book in more than 15 years, is a fictionalized account of real events in her hometown in the 1950s, when a series of plane crashes sparked fear and confusion. At its centre is a coming-of-age story of 15-year-old Miri Ammerman. Pairing Embrace the inherent femininity associated with Blume’s work and go pink by uncorking a bottle of sparking rosé. 

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is a post-Arthurian romance. As a fog of forgetting rolls over England, an elderly couple set forth in search of their son, only to find dragons, knights and unfathomable secrets.  Pairing Its setting and Arthurian qualities cry out for a tankard of mead, of which many craft breweries are producing modern versions.