Sunday 6 May 2012

Book review : The Book of Summers - Emylia Hall

Just the word summer is enough to evoke memories of carefree childhood days playing outside, lazy afternoons basking in the heat and sun-baked, exotic, picture postcard landscapes. Well, The Book of Summers does contain all of those things but it also has a deeper, darker, more poignant side. It's a classic coming of age novel telling of lost innocence, discovering a new sense of self  and the inner turmoil that anyone who's ever been a teen will be able to relate to.

The Book of Summers of the title is a homemade scrapbook that central character Beth Lowe receives unexpectedly, along with a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has passed away. As she turns the pages, she revisits the seven blissful summers that she spent in Hungary, her mother's homeland, with her first taste of wine, her first kiss, her first sense of belonging and finally, during the summer she turns sixteen, the cataclysmic discovery that makes her whole world implode and turn her back on Hungary and everything that it represents.

The memories are related with heartfelt tenderness and a vivid sense of the difference between her carefree, bohemian mother in Hungary and her strait-laced, emotionally restrained British father. But, although we see all this through the eyes of Beth, both as the child and teen that she was in the photos as well as the grown woman looking through her book of memories, the reader can also really relate to both parents, undoubtedly imperfect but doing their best to make Beth happy, making mistakes that we would all be capable of making ourselves "for the right reasons".

It's a poetic, lyrical, meandering narrative, full of emotion and nostalgia, that I enjoyed reading, but I did find it a bit slow-paced and lacking in action after some of the high-octane crime fiction that I've been reading lately !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £14.99

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0755390830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755390830

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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