Everything in the garden is lovely…or is it?
There’s no getting away from it: The Summer House Party is a substantial book, but, if you generally go for the slimmer of volumes, don’t let 500+ pages put you off: TSHP is beautiful seasonal read: light enough that you will tear through the pages and thoughtful enough that the characters and places will linger in your mind after you turn the last page.
As its front cover and title so well suggest, TSHP opens at an abundant family and friends gathering in the south of England in the late 30s. The setting is idyllic: a large, comfortable family home and, while at first encounter, the visitors and residents are equally comfortable with their largely well-heeled, orserly and leisurely existence, there are counter currents running beneath the surface.
TSHP is a novel of love inside and outside of marriage, of responsibility, honour and duty and, this being a family saga, of secrets and lies.
As the Second World War looms, approaches and then encroaches on our protagonists’ lives, relationships are cemented, regretted, lost and found, but as their existence is torn apart, the pieces land in altogether unexpected patterns.
While TSHP draws the reader in with a pleasant and reassuring Cazalet Chronicles style opening, the momentum steadily builds as you are drawn into lives, relationships, motives, hopes and fears. I pelted through the book over the course of a weekend and heartily recommend for anyone seeking a rather lovely sojourn into the past