|The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: A haunting, rather beautiful story of a lost childhood, families and secrets.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: March 2012|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
|External links: Author's website|
When Beth receives a parcel from her estranged mother she realises she must finally face up to her past. The parcel contains a scrap book, full of photos from each summer when Beth was 10 until she was 16. As she turns the pages we learn of Beth's childhood, the separation of her parents and the summers she spends with her mother in Hungary.
I found the writing through this book very atmospheric, whether it's reading of Beth's life in London now she's older, or her home with her father in Devon or, mostly, the vivid, exciting summers she spends with her mother in Hungary. There's a real sense of vibrant colour, tastes and sounds. The characters too seem very real. Beth's mother, Marika, is particularly well-portrayed, even if she's not always likeable, and I loved the depiction of Beth and her father's relationship; the slow, steady routine that they rely on entirely to hold them together and protect them from the harsh realities of life.
The story is engaging and you find yourself drawn into Beth's life. We know from the start that she is estranged from her mother, so throughout the story you are wondering what big event could possibly have happened to make this happen. Although the build up is a little slow at times I certainly didn't guess what was coming and found it moving to read. The complex family relationships are interesting to read and they're portrayed sensitively.
I liked the writing style which is heavy on description and quite literary at times. My only complaints were that it dragged just ever so slightly sometimes and all those beautiful descriptions became just a little too excessive. Also, by the end of the story, I felt really quite melancholy. Even though it has a positive ending the book overall still left me feeling quite low, so be warned if you're looking for something cheery and bright for the beach or as a pick-me-up. Otherwise, this is a very well written story, a great debut for the author and I'd certainly pick up anything she wrote in the future.
If you like books that have their serious side but also manage to inject a little more humour and light-heartedness into the story then you might want to try Getting Away With It by Julie Cohen
You can read more book reviews or buy The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall at Amazon.com.
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