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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Book Review: Summertime

Author: Vanessa Lafaye

Release date: 7th May 2015
Genre: Modern
Target audience: Adult fiction
Publisher: Orion

Summertime is a story of love, segregation, family relationships, and the reality for soldiers during the Great Depression.

Missy is a housekeeper and nanny for the Kincaid family who live in Heron Key, Florida. In the height of summer the weather is hot and humid. Henry, a First World War veteran, along with his comrades, takes the only employment opportunity offered to them on a public works project. The conditions are abysmal, and the men who are likely traumatised from their wartime service, are not welcomed with open arms by the locals. Tension is high at the Independence Day celebration on the beach. As locals gather to watch the fireworks, the sparks fly!

This story also follows the town’s doctor, police officer, the local store owner. The list goes on. I really wanted to love this book. On this face of it, many of the themes are issues that matter to me: civil rights and justice for all. But the style of the writing in this novel just didn’t set my world on fire. There were so many characters that meant in the beginning it was difficult to remember who they are were. Their voices weren’t distinct enough so in the third person roving narrative, I was lost at times.

Their predicament was something that should move you to tears. The veterans, abandoned by the government, were left to the mercy of the worst ever hurricane to strike North America.

The love story between Henry and Missy should have kept my attention. I’m a hopeless romantic after all. But I just didn’t feel the emotion leaping of the page.

Perhaps the style of writing was just not for me. This is entirely possible. There are lots of quotes in the book from readers who did feel a connection to the story. But I think that this book tried to tell too many stories. The author wanted to tell the story of the veterans and how the government failed them. (It says so in an author’s note). I think this would have been a much more powerful novel if she had focused on that and not all the other characters that inhabited the small town of Heron Key. It would be a different book but all the more powerful for it.

I found this review really hard to write. I guess it is a case of not every book is for every reader. 

Source: Purchased from WH Smith

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