Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. Since the last blog I’ve had my first vaccination jab, which was an extraordinarily efficient process, with hundreds of people being manoeuvred with military precision through a large hall, with the whole thing (including the fifteen-minute precautionary post-jab wait) only taking about half an hour. Remarkable work by the healthcare and admin teams, and another step closer to freedom. Fingers crossed things continue to look so positive!
In the meantime, I reckon it’s time to once again delve into the delights of the literary world, discovering which books are the new must-reads as the summer season approaches. Books have been a much-treasured lifeline for many over the lockdowns, their escapism and immersion so much more pointed and urgent than in regular life, giving us an opportunity to relieve a bit of pressure from the valve that steadily builds in confinement. In fact, one of the silver linings of my time on furlough was the ability to read a lot more, which creates the space to try new authors and genres, something that can be the most unexpectedly pleasurable and satisfying experience, and one that people often wish they had tried earlier.
For me, the discovery was American author Anne Tyler, a name I had seen countless times on bestselling lists and on bookshelves, but whose book covers and plots had never appealed to me. I sat down with a mug of Hoogly Earl Grey and started a book called ‘A Spool of Blue Thread,’ which is about three generations of a family in Baltimore, their loves and losses, their triumphs and successes, and the way each generation impacts on the next. I instantly fell in love. Tyler has a forensic understanding of family dynamics; her characters are all relatable, their decisions—good and bad—mirror our own, and we feel their sorrow and joy, crying and laughing with them. Humour, in fact, is sprinkled lovingly throughout the book, with seemingly every other line infused with a wry smile or a wink to the reader, which offers a counter-balance to the more emotional scenes, some of which you have to read a few times to properly understand how beautifully crafted, meaningful and poignant they are. Tyler writes, in fact, just as many of us experience family life: with love and fun, intersected with thunderbolts of drama, woven together with compassion, comfort and few unwelcome surprises! I heartily recommend all of her many novels; you couldn’t find a more Hoogly author if you tried!
So what books are making a splash as we speak? Our first Hoogly recommendation is ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex. Inspired by true events, this is the story of three lighthouse keepers who vanished from their lighthouse in 1972, with the entrance door locked from the inside. Within the walls, the clocks have stopped; the weather log speaks of a terrible storm, but the skies have been calm all week. Twenty years later, a writer approaches the women the keepers left behind and invites them to tell their story. As they confront their darkest fears, the truth begins to surface… With critical and popular acclaim, ‘The Lamplighters’ is going to be a must-read novel for the summer ahead!
Our next pick is a stunning mash-up of genres. ‘The Devil and the Dark Water’ by Stuart Turton is a historical mystery thriller with elements of crime and the supernatural. It takes place in 1634 as the world’s greatest detective Samuel Pipps is being transported as a prisoner to Amsterdam aboard an East India Company merchant vessel. Almost as soon as the ship leaves the harbour, the devilry begins, with strange symbols appearing on the sails, a dark figure stalking the decks, and animals being slaughtered. Can Pipps and his faithful bodyguard solve an impossible theft and a brutal murder before the ship’s passengers descend into terror and anarchy? The author brings the scenes vividly to life with acute observed details and a poetic descriptions, drawing you into the era and the setting from the very first page, and then carrying you along on a wild and scary ride as the super sleuth follows the clues and battles enemies real and imagined! If you fancy something inventive and different, this is the book for you!!
For kids around ages 9-12, we highly recommend ‘Harklights’ by Tim Tilley. This is the story of Wick, who lives in the terrible Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working without rest for Old Ma Bogey. As he dreams of escape, he happens across a tiny baby in an acorn cradle. As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, who are miniature protectors of the forest, who thank Wick for taking good care of the baby. But their gratefulness does not end there: the Hobs offer Wick an amazing opportunity—escape from Harklights and start a new life and adventure with them in the wild! This is a beautiful book, extremely Hoogly in its themes of friendship, family and the natural world, and offering a much-needed message of hope during the difficult times we have all experienced. Kids will love the world that is created inside the covers, and will embrace the Hobs and their urgent need to protect the world around them.
As for the perfect accompaniment to your literary treasures, look no further than a beautiful mug of Hoogly tea! We can’t think of better way to relax and wind down than to pick a cosy nook of your home, curl up with a good read and sip a delicious brew while you immerse yourself in a good story. How about kicking off the summer with a cup of Spiced Orange herbal infusion?! This is a zesty sensation that sings of sunshine, combining fruit and mulled spices to create a taste that will thrill you during those long, warm nights with friends and family!
For something a little different, why not try Blueberry Muffin Rooibos? This tantalisingly toasty brew is infused with sweet berry tones to recreate a classic naughty treat, perfect to accompany breakfast, or as a Hoogly mindful moment at any time of the day as it’s naturally caffeine-free! Sure to become your new favourite cuppa—and as restrictions ease, it will become your guests’ favourite too!
That’s it for now; take care of yourselves, pop the kettle on and stay Hoogly!
Written by Chris Bedford