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This week the Mirror Book Club looks at three of the best summer cookbooks, from camper van cooking to green barbecue.

We also review the fascinating and sometimes frightening exploration of the impact of increasingly accurate time-keeping on us all, from ancient Rome’s first sundial in 263BC to precise satellites that mean guided missiles can find their way to within a centimetre of intended targets.

Meanwhile, Sarah Winman’s fifth novel is a gorgeous, generous story and Julianne Pachico's disturbing and poetic novel is set in modern-day Colombia.

For all that and more, read on – and don't forget to join the Mirror Book Club.

Three of the best summer cookbooks Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thomson and Matt Williamson

Hardie Grant, £20

Camper Van Cooking by Claire Thomson and Matt Williamson and The Green Barbecue by by Rukmini Iyer

Despite the title, this collection of recipes is also ideal for camping, barbecues or picnics.

There are meals to cook on a single hob, such as honey and paprika chicken, recipes for fireside cooking, including meatballs or pork kebabs, and smoked salmon bagels for breakfast.

There’s also a handy equipment checklist.

Sea & Shore by Emily Scott

Hardie Grant, £26

Emily Scott opened a cafe in Port Isaac in 1999 and her passion for Cornwall shines through in recipes inspired by the best local ingredients.

They’re broken down into four seasons, from hearty boeuf bourguignon in winter to monkfish skewers or courgette risotto in summer, and her stories will be catnip to anyone who ever daydreamed of moving to the coast.

The Green Barbecue by Rukmini Iyer

Square Peg, £17.99

The author of the hit Roasting Tin series returns with 75 vegetarian and vegan recipes for the barbecue – or, if the weather isn’t cooperating, the grill.

The most substantial dishes range from Vietnamese griddled tofu to spiced paneer, with an abundance of lighter sides and fruity sweet options.

There are also creative suggestions for making the most of your leftovers.

Also this week… About Time: A History Of Civilization In Twelve Clocks by David Rooney

Viking, £16.99

Sea & Shore by Emily Scott and About Time: A History Of Civilization In Twelve Clocks by David Rooney

Author David Rooney explores the impact of increasingly accurate time-keeping on us all – and it makes for a fascinating and sometimes frightening story.

Starting with ancient Rome’s first sundial in 263BC and making his way up to the latest atomic clocks, he argues that the increasing sophistication of our time-keeping has not brought unqualified benefits.

“Wherever we are, as far back as we care to look, we can find that monumental timekeepers mounted high up on towers or public buildings have been put there to keep us in order, in a world of violent disorder.”

Even in ancient Rome, voices were raised against the sundial in the forum. Before that, people ate when they were hungry and worked until they were tired.

Throughout history, an official clock was resented for the power it gave the ruling classes to impose constraints on our free time. Later, Rooney tells us of the effect of establishing a standard time for the country in the 19th century to take the place of local time in individual cities.

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Originally dictated by the desire for train timetables, it became a means for wicked factory owners to impose unwanted discipline on their workers, even changing the time on official clocks to make people work longer.

Leaping between centuries to pursue such themes, Rooney weaves a convincing tale of the evil uses to which clocks have been put. This is nowhere more clear than the effect of timepieces on modern warfare.

The GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite system may seem helpful when it tells us to turn right in 20 metres but it was news to me that it started life as a secret military project.

There are now over 70 GPS satellites in orbit, each of them with three or four atomic clocks telling the time to within a millionth of a second.

Determining the location of your motor is achieved by measuring the time a signal takes to travel from the car to various satellites – but the phenomenal accuracy of that time-keeping is precisely why guided missiles can find their way to within a centimetre of intended targets.

Knowing the right time may not always be a good thing.


Still Life by Sarah Winman

Fourth Estate, £16.99

The Anthill by Julianne Pachico and Still Life by Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman’s fifth novel is a gorgeous, generous story of kind hearts and kindred spirits redefining the meaning of family and friendship.

In 1944, young British soldier Ulysses Temper meets sixty-something art expert Evelyn Skinner in a Tuscan wine cellar as allied forces advance and bombs fall around them.

Evelyn has come to save precious paintings from ruination and, as they share an expensive vintage wine, Ulysses is enthralled by Evelyn’s musings on art and love. Her words will resonate throughout his life, as will his fateful intervention in a suicide attempt on the roof of a Florentine house.

After he’s demobbed, Ulysses returns home to discover that his bold, beautiful wife Peg has fallen in love with an American soldier, had his baby and now wants a divorce.

With an unexpected legacy, broken-hearted Ulysses decides it’s time to leave London’s grey East End and instead puts roots down in sun-drenched Florence, accompanied by his lonely friend Cress.

The emotionally damaged duo seek to rebuild their lives in this hopeful, happy, intensely humane novel.


The Anthill by Julianne Pachico

Faber & Faber, £12.99

Lina was eight when her Colombian mother died and she was sent to boarding school in England. Discarded by her English lawyer father, she spent school holidays with friends.

Twenty years later, Lina returns to Colombia to seek her childhood friend Mattías who was taken from his family by Lina’s unstable mother and unofficially adopted.

She hopes to rekindle their friendship which is her only warm memory of a fractured childhood.

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But the boy she left behind has grown into a brooding, secretive man and he resents her turning up out of the blue after so long. Lina’s return also forces Mattías to confront unwelcome memories. His childhood was as troubled as Lina’s, with her mother’s death leaving him on the streets. Though he doesn’t want to revisit his history, Lina wants to help him find his birth mother.

The Anthill is set in present-day, post-civil war Colombia, a country still full of unrest and desperate poverty.

‘You’d think that memory is a safe place,’ muses Mattías – but it proves to be anything but in this disturbing and poetic novel.


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All The Lonely People, by Mike Gayle

We have a brand-new book of the month – All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle.

In phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun and friendship.

But he is lying. He hardly sees a soul.

So when his daughter announces she’s coming to visit, Hubert faces a race against time to make his real life resemble his fake life.

Read along with us at and let us know what you think.