Sunday 19 February 2012

Review - The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

I was delighted to be asked to review this book for Real Readers

The Book of Summers

Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: Headline Review (1 Mar 2012) 
Language English 

Synopsis from Amazon

Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel.

Inside is a letter informing her that her long-estranged mother has died, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it's stuffed with photographs and mementos complied by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary.
It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries; her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother and her gentle, reticent English father; the dazzling house of a Hungarian artist and an empty-feeling cottage in deepest Devon. And it was a time that came to the most brutal of ends the year Beth turned sixteen.

Since then, Beth hasn't allowed herself to think about those years of her childhood. But the arrival of The Book of Summers brings the past tumbling back into the present; as vivid, painful and vital as ever.

My Review

The summers of our childhood pass by in misty recollection, and yet for Beth Lowe the memories of her special summers as a child in Hungary are something to be concealed. When a package is given to her along with some devastating news, Beth needs to find inner strength in order to face the demons of her past. The package reveals the Book of Summers lovingly compiled by her mother, Marika, and recalling the summers of Beth’s childhood between the ages of 10 and 16, when Beth left her home in Devon with her reticent father, and became Erzsรฉbet and ran wild amid the Hungarian beauty of Villa Serena.

This beautifully written coming of age novel captures the real meaning of adolescence. The faultless exploration of the indecision of young love expertly combines the demands of living a double life, with fragments of secrets, and a hint of regret. 

However, the real skill of the author comes in the strength of her imagination; there is a poignant lyricism, together with a flawless narrative which captures perfectly a little girl trying to bridge the gap between two very different worlds.

Quite simply, The Book of Summers is a joy to read, and is an exceptionally good debut novel.

Without doubt I have found one of my books of 2012.

Happy Reading

Jo and Jaffa



  1. I've just finished this one today Josie and I think I loved it as much as you. x

  2. Glad you liked it Lindsey - it's such a good book X

  3. I agree that this is a great debut novel, but I didn't love it as much as you did Josie. I don't like to use the word 'overwritten' but at times that is what I felt, almost as though the author was trying just a little too hard. On the whole, I did enjoy it, but didn't love it.

  4. Hi Anne - Glad you enjoyed it, perhaps not as much as I did, but we both agree that it's a great debut novel. x


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