Monday, 24 August 2015

The Summer of Secrets

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon
Published by Black Swan
13th August 2015
Paperback Edition

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

The Summer of Secrets is another of those books that moves back and forth with time, from the present day, to the summer of  1983 when our narrator, Helen meets the Dover family.  We weave through the deacades trying to ascertain what happened that fateful summer and of how its consequences changed Helen's life.  But the big question is, why can't she remember what happened?

Helen lives with her father, an angry man with a drinking problem, fuelled further by an estranged mother who deserted them both.  It is the summer holidays and Helen has very little to do until a pair of children appear in her garden.  For Helen, this is her introduction to the Dover family, a bohemian eclectic mix of people who have a very different upbringing from her own carefully measured one.

Helen is enthralled by them from the very start, especially by Victoria from whom she soon becomes inseparable.  However, is this friendship good for Helen, or will it ultimately end in tragedy.  A poster advertising an art show featuring work by Victoria suddenly brings everything back to Helen and she feels tied to go and see her for one last time.

Will this bring about the closure that she needs so she can finally put the ghosts of 1983 to rest at last?  I flew though this pretty quickly but it wasn't quite as dramatic at the end as maybe I had expected it to be.  I enjoyed the read, and I think that the contrasting characters between Helen's family and that of the Dovers was very well written out.  You could feel the laziness of the still hot summer days as the pages turned, and it certainly felt atmospheric.  I wasn't quite as drawn in as I wanted to be by the close of the book which is a shame as I think this is a good summer read.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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