From the blurb:
Antoinette’s world has fallen apart: her husband, the man she has loved for as long as she can remember, has died tragically in an accident. He was her rock, the man she turned to for love and support, the man she knew better than she knew herself. Or at least so she thought…For as she arrives at the familiar old stone church for George’s funeral, she sees a woman she has never met before. And in that instant, the day she thought would close a door on the past becomes the day that everything she has ever known is turned upside down. Phaedra loved George too, and she could not bear to stay away from his funeral. She only recently came to know him, but their bond was stronger than any she has ever felt before. As she sits before his wife, she knows that what she is about to reveal will change all their lives forever. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to reveal the truth. But what if the truth is harder to bear than the tragedy…?
Such a delightful book – deliciously thick and full of feeling. I love the maturity of the writing, and the fact that the author feels no need to gallop through at a fast pace, instead really exploring the emotions and thoughts of myriad characters in the aftermath of the death of George, the head of the family.
I found the characters likeable and believable, and I especially engaged with the two lead women, Antoinette and Phaedra (lovely names!). The author’s use of the omniscient narrator means we get inside many characters’ minds, although I have to say that at times I found the regular shifting about of perspectives mid-scene a little disorientating.
There’s a mystery at the heart of the book, introduced early on – a discomfort surrounding the characters of Phaedra and the George’s solicitor, Julius. The mystery builds to an explosive revelation towards the end of the book, though I must admit I had guessed the twist early on.
For me, the strengths of the book lie in the relationships between characters, and the poignant exploration of love and loss and moving on. The overall messages that come through are moving and meaningful, and one closes the book with a deep feeling of satisfaction.
The setting is also evocative – especially the scenes in Fairfield Park, Hampshire, the family’s Jacobean mansion surrounded by land. I love the folly (the summer house) which acts as the focal point; a place that comes to symbolise new hope and forgiveness.
Overall, this is a book to add to your summer reading list and to pick up when you want a deeper, slower, more poignant book.
The Summer House is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.