The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

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The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A hot, steamy summer story of two couples and one villa, this is unexpected but not in a bad way.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Tinder Press
ISBN: 978-1472212085

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The Lemon Grove is not the book I expected it to be. No better no worse, just not what I expected. Set in Mallorca, it is the tale of a summer in the sunshine, but though they’ve holidayed at this villa for years, this summer is a bit different for Jenn and Greg. There are lots of things in this book that are a bit quirky, and the holiday set up is just one of them: the couple are joined by Greg’s daughter (Jen’s step-daughter) and her boyfriend. It’s not wildly unconventional in the real world, but for one reason or another it’s the sort of chaotic set up many authors wouldn’t bother to create. And yet as you read this book you wonder why, because it adds a dynamic that is definitely different, and in a good way.

Nathan rubs Greg up the wrong way, but that’s no real surprise since he’s dating his daughter. His effect on Jenn is a bit different, though, and forms the backbone of this story about knowing the rules but breaking them anyway. There are other sub plots, like Greg’s work issues, but these fade in to the background when Jenn and Nathan interact.

This is a sultry book that needs a hot, steamy setting, so the Spanish island works well. It becomes a character in its own right quite quickly, and soon everyday activities, even just going out for a coffee, or to pick up some pastries for breakfast, are coming across as deliciously foreign and exotic. It certainly beats the West Didsbury she references (which, let’s face it, is essentially Withington).

This is a summer that tests the boundaries of what is right and what is appropriate. Jenn and Emma do not have the easiest of relationships, and by bringing Nathan along, Emma has disturbed what was supposed to be Jenn’s relaxing summer holiday, a break from her physically and emotionally hard job back home. Jenn’s reaction is hard to predict from the limited back story, but comes to make sense over time.

Walsh likes to play with words in an uncommon way. The book is narrated in the present, not the usual past tense and it’s full of words like coquettishly and promontory that give it a more educated, grown up feel if I can say that without sounding ridiculous. It’s not difficult to read, however, and though sometimes you have to read between the lines, especially in the explicit stuff that is at times implied rather than described in minute detail, it’s not hard to infer what is going on, though I was left occasionally having to re-read short sentences with the thought of Dude, did they just have anal sex? Where did that come from? in my mind.

I enjoyed this book because it’s unusual, not in spite of this. If I had to describe it in a word, I’d say heady, like a potent perfume that knocks you off your feet a little when you first take a whiff. Forget all expectations, and dive straight in, and I think you’ll find it an intriguing read.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

This book reminded me of an earlier read The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk which might also appeal.

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Buy The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh at


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