Dig in to a classic: Up at the Villa

Written in 1941, Somerset Maugham’s Up at the Villa is a short (224 page) book set in Florence, Italy. A young widow, Mary is staying at the home of friends after her husband is killed in a car crash . The book examines the three men in Mary’s life: an older gentleman who has always admired her and proposes now that her husband is dead, a rich, but idle man her age who is a scamp but also wants to marry her, and a violinist she meets one evening while out dining with friends. The action of the story mostly occurs over the course of one evening.

Mary has told the older man she will give him an answer to his marriage proposal when he returns to town. Meanwhile, she goes out to a dinner party with friends and meets the unscrupulous man who flirts with her and advises her not to marry the older man. Mary brushes him off and returns home to the villa after supper. The violinist is waiting there and she takes pity on him. When she succumbs to him and then brushes him off, he kills himself in a passion and she is left with his corpse. How does she escape being accused of his murder? Will she decide to marry the older, respectable gentleman after all? Up at the Villa is also a 2020 film

When We Believed in Mermaids

Kit Bianci lost her sister, Josie, to a terrorist attack on a French train years ago. While watching the news one day, however, Kit sees a woman who looks exactly like her dead sister, during a report from New Zealand. Kit’s mother convinces her to fly to there from California to look for the woman she feels could be Josie. While searching for Josie in New Zealand, Kit meets Javier, with whom she grows very close. Will she find her long lost sister? Will Kit realize her true feelings for Javier,or dismiss them as just part of a fling? Read Barbara O’Neal’s moving novel to find these answers, and more…

Looking for your next children’s book to read?

The UK’s Carnegie Medal list for 2021 provides a great resource of titles for the ‘tween-teen audience. This year’s titles include authors Elizabeth Acevedo (Clap When You Land), Patrick Ness, Kate DiCamillo (Beverly Right Here), Jason Reynolds (Look Both Ways), Sophie Anderson (The Girl Who Speaks Bear), Frances Hardinge (Deeplight), and Tom Palmer (After the War).

Carnegie Greenaway Awards logo
Click here to see past years’ Carnegie Medal winners