This is an incredible book! Absolutely stunning!
Right, swooning over…for the time being! The Book of Summers is the debut novel of Emylia Hall and it is simply wonderful! Our protagonist is Beth Lowe, an artist living in London. The book opens as Beth is getting ready for her father to come and visit. It becomes clear that their relationship is quite strained and when he arrives, he hands Beth a parcel that arrived for her…from Hungary. This sparks a disagreement, which results in her father leaving immediately for Devon…Beth finds herself holding the parcel that she so desperately did not want anything to do with. She recognises the handwriting and decides to open the parcel…soon Beth is forced to remember times that she had tried in vain to forget as inside the parcel is a book, full of photos and memories from her summer holidays in Hungary entitled, The Book of Summers.
Beth takes us through the book, summer by summer…recollecting the sights, smells, tastes, experiences and emotions that she felt during those holidays. This book is written so honestly and beautifully that it really is a joy to read. I have never been to Hungary, but I am genuinely keen to go at some point now! You can read this book ANYWHERE and yet imagine yourself exploring rural Hungary! I mainly read this during my commute to and from work and was amazingly able to ignore the insane people on my train and escape! As Beth recollects summer after summer, I became more and more determined to find out what went so terribly wrong on her seventh summer – why doesn’t Beth want to remember those moments?! Why doesn’t she get along with her father? The strength of Hall’s writing lies in the realism of the characters and the empathy that we feel throughout each and every moment with Beth. I really felt like I was privy to someone’s deepest and most precious memories, but it was written so naturally that I didn’t feel like I was intruding…I just felt like I was there with Beth in the park, in her flat, exploring Zoltan’s garden, watching two young people fall in love purely and honestly.
This is a truly wonderful book which offers an escape into a world, so different from our own and yet within reach! This is a must-read! Not just for the summer, but for any time that you need to escape into beautiful imagery, wonderful descriptions and simply read about love, without cliche or pretension.