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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

As the sun begins to set earlier and earlier, it is easy to feel despondent as summer fades away. But not to worry, because though warm evenings spent lounging on the grass with a book may be over, we can now do the same, but curled up in a chair. Put your People We Meet on Vacation away along with your sundresses; it’s time to grab a mug of chai and pull on a thick sweater. Hot Girl Summer, make way for Cosy Girl Autumn.

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

Released in July, this book is the perfect one to bridge the seasonal gap. Although its first chapters describe the warmth and stickiness of a Venetian summers’ day, the storyline tells the darker history of Lucrezia de Medici’s marriage to Alfonso de’Este, ruler of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio, rumoured to have murdered Lucrezia merely a year after entering she entered his court.  

Its enticing plot will have you fascinated; it is the perfect book for a weekend when you don’t have any concrete plans. Find yourself a comfortable spot and get lost in Renaissance Italy.

Cursed Bread by Sophie MacKintosh

Following on with more historical fiction, Cursed Bread is a chilling tale, perfect for the Halloween season. Very loosely based on a mass poisoning in 1951 France, this book is told from the perspective of Eloise, a passionate woman in a loveless marriage, who develops an obsession with the newcomer of the village, Violet, who is an ambassador’s wife. The two women become closer despite the discrepancy in their respective classes. Strange occurrences begin to happen and Eloise questions their meaning. The book is split into Eloise’s narrative, and letters she writes to Violet in the aftermath of the poisoning.

The Guardian review describes it in three words: ‘sex, death and baking’. This depiction seems pretty accurate to me, but I’ll leave it to you to make up your mind.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Okay, so not a new book, but one everyone should read. If you’re unsure of the synopsis, it is an overall reflection of the murder of Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran. While this might seem to be a spoiler, it is made clear right at the beginning of the novel. Somehow, Tartt manages to maintain the attention of her readers for the remaining 500 pages, as you become desperate to know exactly how the events unfolded, and the aftermath of the drama.

Its intellectual style and themes will make you feel like you’re not procrastinating from studying, but rather learning of a whole new world.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I realise as I am writing this article that there seems to be a common, dark theme to all my suggestions. But what better way to bring in Spooky Season with the most famous opening line in literature: ‘Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again’. Daphne du Maurier’s novel is a classic for a reason; a young woman marries a wealthy older widower and discovers that the memory of his deceased wife is still very much alive within the walls of the house. If you haven’t read the book before you will be captivated. If you have read the book before you will still be captivated, such is du Maurier’s writing.

I hope these suggestions fill you with some inspiration as we move into the Halloween season; Gilmore Girls is the perfect autumnal comfort show, but for something with a little more edge, take a dip into one of these books. 

Emma Gatrell

St. Andrews '24

Hi, I'm Emma! I'm studying History at St Andrews. Things I love include good books, cats, and drinking lots of tea.