What I love this week: time to chill edition

Happy Friday, friends! Even though it’s been years since I was a Corporate Desk Jockey with a regular M-F schedule, I still experience a little frisson of anticipation at the approach of a long holiday weekend. We’ve had a lot going on these past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to some quiet time with a book. That’s the vibe I had in mind for this easy “coastal chic” linen outfit idea.

A linen outfit idea to stay cool & covered

This one’s for my fellow Shade Worshippers. Skin cancer runs in my family, and I’ve had a couple of pre-c lesions removed, so I really try to limit my sun exposure. I always travel with a linen shirt to stay cool while blocking at least some sun exposure. These linen shirts are so versatile. I like to wear them open as a lightweight topper over a tank. (This “Absinthe” color is on sale now, and is a nice match for “seafoam” in the Spring palette.)

Many of the items I’ve included here are on sale, including my new favorite sunscreen! It’s all-mineral, but doesn’t leave a whitish cast or pill over time. It works well under makeup too.

"Coastal chic:" a relaxed coastal grandmother capsule wardrobe.

Love “coastal chic” style? Click HERE to see more…

Reading list

I finished up the Slough House series by Mick Herron, and am looking for some ideas for either similar spy novels, WWII history, French history, or biographies of interesting women.

What are you reading and enjoying these days?

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  1. Susan, Have you read any Jojo Moyes, the English author? I have read almost everything that she has written… loved every book.

  2. Whether these exactly fit your reading desires, I am not sure. Loved “The PAris Apartment.” A mystery set in Paris, of course. “The Last Green Valley” is an unusual WWII true story set in Ukraine by the author of teh also true “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” which was set in Italy. Alan Furst’s “A Hero of France” is one of my all time favorite WWII novels along with “The Paris Architect.” Have you read any of these?

  3. Hi Susan! I would check out Kristin Harmel. I loved “The Book of Lost Names” which was set in France during WWII and dealt with smuggling Jewish children out of France. She also wrote “The Forest of Vanishing Stars” also set during WWII.
    I really enjoyed Lisa Scottoline’s book “Eternal” which was set in Rome during WWII and the story revolves around the Jewish population there. Actually I’m a big fan of hers and love her books about the all-female law firm in Philadelphia too.
    Have a great weekend!

  4. This one ticks 2 of the genres. I recommend A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purcell, a biography of Virginia Hall, an American who became a British spy during WWII.

      1. Isn’t there a Netflix movie about three female SOE agents? I think she had some sort of prosthetic leg?

  5. I recommend “The French House” by Helen Fripp, historical fiction about the Veuve Clicquot. For a fun summer read, I’ve just started “The Second Worst Restaurant in France” by Alexander McCall Smith.

    1. I love his books (McCall Smith). He sends me to a happy place with his wry sense of humor and keen observations. I almost look forward to waking up in the middle of the night so as to read a few pages to fall back to sleep.

  6. Just finished The Spy and the Traitor by MacIntyre for my book group. couldn’t put it down. It’s nonfiction. My husband was hooked on it too.

  7. I could live in some variation of this outfit all summer long! Thank you for the coastal-themed posts. Recently I’ve been enjoying the Maisie Dobbs book series by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie is a woman with an interesting past who starts out as a nurse in WWI and becomes an investigator leading up to and during WWII. Have a nice holiday weekend!

  8. You have some great readers here! I second A Woman of No Importance, ALL of Ben McIntyre’s books, Jacqueline Winspear. Also, Daniel Silvia’s spy novels are very good. His latest helped me get through a 14 hour flight last week:)

    1. I recommend British historian. Antony Beevor’s book, Paris after the Liberation (non fiction). Just finished, Ian Kershaw’s, ‘On Radjii Beach’ (if you have seen the movie, Paradise Road, Cate Blanchett’s character is based on one of the nurses) – true story of the murder of 22 Australian Army Nurses by the Japanese in World War Two. Also read (and enjoyed, the biography of King Charles’s 1st wife, Henrietta Marie. Am currently reading the biography of Peter the Great, but it is pretty heavy going. On a recent long haul flight read Ben McIntyre’s book, ‘Colditz’ – thoroughly enjoyed it.

  9. Okay, I try not to recommend books, because my interest is a bit eclectic, however, I have just started this hard bound: The Well Lived Life, A 102 year old Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age,
    Turning 76 has changed my reading interest a bit, and this looks like a marvelous read.
    However, some of the suggestions recommended by your readers look really interesting. So I’m adding them to my summer reading list.

  10. I have been enjoying the coastal chic ideas, thanks so much for sharing! In terms of books, there is a very interesting mystery series by Iona Whishaw with nine books in the series now, I believe. It features a protagonist Lane Winslaw, who worked for British Intelligence during WWII. It takes place in the years immediately after the war and is well written. Lane has relocated to Canada in the hopes of finding some peace. She lives in a small community in BC with some charming characters however her past proves difficult to leave behind. Interspersed with the central mystery the books explore the many ways the war shifted society, from women’s “traditional” roles to racism and economics. Lovely reads!

  11. Louise Penny mysteries: can’t get enough of her. Rereading while I wait for the next one.

  12. My favorite of all time, Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin, wonderful true adventure story, an excellent English translation available. She was a lady in waiting to Marie Antointette, married young and happily, fled France to upstate New York during the Revolution, returned to France. She wrote this for her only surviving child. She mentions the personal, e.g., fashion and beauty, and the political, e.g., our country in its earliest days.

  13. Hi Susan! I recently read a novel (historical fiction) about a truly fascinating woman I had never heard of. The book is “The Personal Librarian'” by Marie Benedict and Victoria Murray.” It recounts the life of Belle Dacosta Greene, a black woman who passed for white (her mother’s choice owing to the horrible segregationism of the post-Civil War era). Tremendously bright and talented, she became the librarian to J.P. Morgan, stewarding his amazing and growing collection of historic books, manuscripts and art to be one of the premier collections of the world. She reigned over the library and oversaw its transition to a public museum for almost 50 years. At the same time, she lived in fear that she would be “found out.”

  14. Have you read any books by Peter Mayle? I have enjoyed two that tell of his move to Provence. I am currently reading A Good Year, also in France. Charming.

  15. First I want to say how much I appreciate your newsletter and all the research you put into it. It has really helped me with my wardrobe planning. You mentioned ‘pilling’ of your make up and this really is a problem for me after I started using mineral sunscreens. I need to use a prescription gel for my rosacea which contributes to the pilling. I’ve tried so many sunscreens and makeup brands. If you have any thoughts on this, it would be so welcome. Thank you!

    1. hi Marilyn
      have you tried the Elta MD range of sunscreens? I have been using them for a couple of years (I live in the Caribbean) and find they are the best for my 70 year old skin in a harsh tropical environment. I wear sunscreen every day whether at home or out and about.

  16. Martin Walker for a series of mysteries set in The Dordogne. Also Maise Dobbs series. Thanks for all you do Susan. Thanks to this community for so many interesting reading recommendations!

  17. For light summer reading, I’m enjoying the Claire Baskerville (who is 60ish) mystery series set in Paris. I’ve read 4 of the 12 which I purchased on Amazon for my Kindle. Well written and makes me feel I’m walking the streets of Paris with her.

    I loved the Slough Horses TV series. How do the books compare?

  18. I’ve read most of Alan Furst’s WWII spy novels, set in France or all over Europe pre/during the war. They don’t need to be read in order.

    Mayle’s Hotel Pastis is a fun read and similar to A Good Year — an Englishman who’s burned out in his career, ends up buying a building in the Luberon to convert into a boutique hotel.

    Always on the hunt for sunscreen and I see your choice is on sale. 🙂

  19. I LOVED the Slough House series! You might like Elly Griffith’s series featuring female detective Harbinder Kaur. I’ve read and enjoyed all of her Ruth Galloway books, and this series is a nice change.

  20. I highly recommend Madame Fourcade’s Secret war: The young woman who led France’s spy network against Hitler. Also, Madame Fourcade’s memoir Noah’s Ark. She was a remarkable woman in extraordinary times. A truly amazing story.

  21. Good Morning
    I’m happy to offer these book recommendations. A little thank you for all your great recommendations!
    A variety of genres:
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles

    The Paris Library
    by Janet Skeslien Charles

    The Dry
    by Jane Harper

    The Tattooist of Auschwitz
    By Heather Morris

    Bad Blood
    by John Carreyrou.

    Taste: My Life Through Food
    by Stanley Tucci
    Fabulous Audiobook

    Suz from Vancouver

  22. Susan if you are interested in French history ( beyond WWll;) I can recommend a few very interesting books about real life women who lived in Revolutionary France and were NOT Marie Antoinette!
    The first has a rather long title ‘The Fountain of St James Court or Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman by Sena Jeter Naslund. It is a partial biography of Madame Vigée LeBrun the famous court painter. She had an incredibly interesting and very long life. I say it’s a partial biography because the novel whips back and forth from present day to the past.
    Another woman of the revolution (Annette Vallon by James Tipton)who also lived a very long and interesting life finding time along the way to be William Wordsworth’s lover and mother to his daughter. Annette put her life in jeopardy by helping to guide aristocratic and not so aristocratic families to safety. It’s a very interesting read about a woman history has pretty much forgotten yet she was Wordsworth’s adored muse for many years.
    I can also recommend Edward Carey’s ‘Little’ about Mme Tussaud. It’s an odd little book about an unusual woman. I am not sure how accurate the history is but it was entertaining. More accurate I think is Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran.( oddly, Mme Tussaud like Annette Vallon and Vigée LeBrun lived well into her eighties!)
    For unparalleled research into French history then anything by Sandra Gulland ( the Louis XIV series or her peerless Josephine Bonaparte trilogy) ça vaut le coup d’oeil!!

  23. Jacqueline in Paris, by Ann Mah, was a fun read that ticks a number of your boxes. It’s set in Paris in 1949 and is a novel based on Jacqueline Kennedy’s year abroad in Paris — the city feels like another character in the book, and it is quite evocative of that immediate postwar period in France.

  24. Maybe not your cup of tea, but I’ve loved Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series.

  25. Ben McIntyre’s – Colditz

    Antony Beevor – Paris after the Liberation (world war two)

    Ian Kershaw – On Radjii Beach (one of the women was played by Cate Blanchett in movie, Paradise Road)

    Simon Sebag Montefiore – The Romanovs

  26. I’ve enjoyed reading Mark Pryor, “British-American mystery writer and Assistant District Attorney for Travis County, Texas. He is best known for his mystery novels featuring Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent from Texas, and now head of security at the U. S. Embassy in Paris.”

    According to Fantastic Fiction, Mr. Pryor also has, within the last several years, written two books centered around WWII & Paris, though I haven’t read them, yet.

    There just isn’t enough time!