Wednesday 5 August 2015

Review ~ The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

Black Swan
13 August 2015

One day
She was there...
And the next she was gone

The summer of our childhoods are made all the more poignant when our memories are linked to reminiscences of the past.

In 1983 Helen is an introverted sixteen year old living a rather sad existence. Her mother is no longer on the scene having left the family home some time ago, leaving both Helen and her father with a palpable air of abandonment. Helen is apathetic and the ennui of a summer holiday stretching ahead of her offers no charm or promise of anything resembling fun. That is, until, the enigmatic Dover family, move into one of the nearby canal cottages, bursting into Helen's life with a bohemian air of adventure and an overwhelming sense of excitement. Helen is mesmerised by the Dover children, and immerses herself so deeply into their lives that it becomes difficult to imagine her life without them in it. But then, one day something happens, which changes everything and leaves Helen with a sense of desolation which changes the course of her life forever.

The Summer of Secrets is quite unhurried, slow and considered in places, with a real sense of atmosphere. I had a distinct sense of time and place and could picture the canal side very easily. The characters are realistic, both charming and perplexing in equal measure,  and with a distinct air of mystery which is fascinating to observe. I liked the way the story took in two time frames, and whilst the bulk of the story is set in the summer of 1983, the continuation of the story, thirty years later,  in 2013, is done in a sympathetic and entirely appropriate way and very cleverly shows the vulnerability of loneliness and the way in which our memories are often distorted by events of the past.

This interesting coming of age debut story cleverly reflects the weariness which all too often enfolds teenagers, who seem to meander through life with little focus or meaning. All it takes is just one unexpected act to hurtle them out of their supposed apathy and into a world which is far more exciting than their own. 

The Summer of Secrets is a commendable debut novel by a talented new author, and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

The Summer of Secrets is available to pre-order.

My thanks to Ben Willis at Transworld Publishers

I read this book as part of the Curtis Brown Book Club

The Summer of Secrets was the July 2015 Book Club Read

About the author

Sarah Jason lives on a canal boat near Manchester with her children. She has had several short stories published, is curating a poetry anthology, and has recently graduated from the Creative Writing MA course at Manchester Metropolitan University. The Summer of Secrets is her first novel.

Sarah Jasmon


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