The Book of Summers – Emylia Hall


Title:   The Book of Summers
Publisher:   Harlequin
Imprint:   HarlequinMIRA
Pub Date:   May 29, 2012
ISBN:   9780778314110

My Rating = 4 stars

I seem to have had a few Proustian moments with this novel  as different smells and sounds brought me back to my youth just as the protagonist explores her past via her own book, The Book of Summers.  Admittedly my own past was somewhat less eventful and less traumatic than that of Beth Lowe but I really enjoyed the atmosphere of nostalgia, the memories of summers past and, I think, despite the sadness, a certain optimism about the future all of which added up to an enjoyable read for me.

The “summers” of the title are the seven vacations which Beth spent with her mother, Marika, in Hungary.  In the present-day narrative, thirty year old Beth is leading a very quiet, almost reclusive life, working in an art gallery in London, but the tranquillity is fractured when her father makes an impromptu visit bringing with him a parcel which, once opened, lets loose all the memories Beth has tried so hard to suppress.  The Book of Summers is the scrapbook memoir which Marika had compiled over the seven summers Beth enjoyed with her in Hungary – memories of hot dry summers, bathing in ponds, first love, wandering in the wilds – all of which form a sharp contrast with home, a rather dreary Devon with a quite depressed Dad who can’t really compete with the exotic wild whirlwind created by Marika.

Of course, such idyllic days were bound to be disrupted and you really feel for the young Beth/Erzi.  Her only hope of closure as an adult is to relive those days via the Book of Summers.

Once, when she was trying to explain why she’d returned to Hungary, Marika said, Sometimes if you don’t go backward, you can’t move forward.

This is an impressive, evocative debut which will transport the reader to another time, another place.  I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented young writer.

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  1. Sounds like this book has a really nostalgic tone to it. It’s been on my wishlist for a while, but now I know that I definitely want to make the time for it.

  2. admin says:

    I really liked it, Sam, it has a very wistful tone and brings back all that awkwardness of teenage years.

  3. Ellie says:

    I thought it was beautifully descriptive but the plot just dragged for me and I think I was hoping for a little bit more insight into life in Hungary. It seems a very romantic view but it’s one I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy.

  4. admin says:

    There wasn’t much of a plot or in-depth characterisation but I loved the nostalgic feel of the novel.

  5. Lindsay says:

    I loved this book, it’s one of my favourites this year so far. I was very impressed by the writing for a debut novel.

  6. admin says:

    I agree Lindsay, it’s a excellent debut.

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