Elena Bowes

New York-London travel & design writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Summer Reads from the next Oprah and the current Elena

June 7th, 2017
Lovings: Books, Writers & Film

Is there anything Reese Witherspoon can’t do? Like Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, Reese is full of surprises.

She’s a great actress – often playing feisty, talkative women – a prolific reader consuming 1-2 books a week and she’s a powerbroker via her production company Pacific Standard. The New Orleans native turns books she loves into highly watchable, money-churning films for both the big and small screen.

Take Wild, Gone Girl and my new binge Big Little Lies set in picturesque Monterey and based on Lliane Moriarty’s novel. Reese is drawn to smart, flawed, gritty and not so likeable female protagonists, not a bland housewife or girlfriend in sight. Whether you like  the rebellious, promiscuous Cheryl Strayed in Wild or the argumentative, controlling queen bee Madeline Mackenzie in Big Little Lies, there is no disputing that these women are fun to watch.


If you’re wondering what Reese is reading now, or want a head’s up on her next film adaptation, join Reese’s Instagram bookclub #RWbookclub. Her crisp Instagram images and folksy comments make me want to find that hammock in the shade and get lost in a good book.



#Diving head first into #EleanorOliphant, we are HOOKED! What part are y’all up to?


Who can’t put down #EleanorOliphant …Where you at?


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine features  the  socially awkward, loner Eleanor  who works in accounts receivable, has no friends, speaks to her mother every Wednesday night for fifteen minutes, buys meals for one and vodka for many every weekend. Here she talks about her favourite mug:

I purchased it in a charity shop some years ago, and it has a photograph of a moon-faced man. He is wearing a brown leather blouson. Along the top, in strange yellow font, it says ‘Top Gear’. I don’t profess to understand this mug. It holds the perfect amount of vodka, however, thereby obviating the need for frequent refills.

I can tell good things are coming Eleanor’s way (read the book flap, obvs). ‘Fine’ just isn’t good enough.

Also on my list to read is Anna Quindlen’s Miller’s Valley to which the New York Times gave a big thumbs up. The Pulitzer prize winning Quindlen is one of those writers whose books I always buy. She never lets me down.


Plus I am nostalgic. I fell in love with Quindlen’s honest, graceful prose when I used to read her Public  & Private column in the NYT’s back in the eighties. I had a banking job I loathed and Quindlen’s column inevitably cheered me up on my subway ride from Wall Street home after work.

In Enough Bookshelves Quindlen discusses why she loves reading so much and the joy she felt when her young son also caught the bug.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invincible companion…Yet of all the many things in which we recognise some universal comfort…reading seems to be the one in which the comfort is most undersung…

And for a laugh – we all need them – We Are Never Meeting in Real Life is defs getting tossed in my beach bag.  Samantha Irby, the comedian and blogger behind “Bitches Gotta Eat”,


has chosen a group of essays with winning titles like  “I’m in Love and It’s Boring”,  “You Don’t Have to Be Grateful for Sex”, and “The Real Houswives of Kalamazoo”.   I know it will be a page turner. This review in New York Magazine says it all:

A memoir of the life of a sardonic, at times awkward, at times depressed black woman with Crohn’s (an inflammatory-bowel disease) and degenerative arthritis…. Her acerbic, raw honesty on the page — often punctuated with all-caps comic parenthetical asides — unflinchingly recounts experiences such as the humiliating intrusion of explosive diarrhea on romantic and borderline-romantic interludes.

Happy Reading

June, 2017