The Book of Summers by Emilia Hall
The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall is the story of one girl’s reflections on her idyllic teen years and how a single secret changed her life forever.
When Beth’s father brings her a brown paper package from Hungary, it unlocks memories, both good and bad, which she had spent many years trying to forget. The parcel contains a photo album, and inside there are six photos, one for every summer she spent with her mother Marika, in Hungary. At nine years old both herself and her parents went on a family vacation to her mother’s homeland of Hungary. There, her and her father are forgotten and Marika mother comes alive, losing herself in old friends and her previous life. When the end of their holiday comes, only she and her father return to their Devon home.
Beth’s father tries to carry on their life in England as usual, but, all she can ever think about is her summer trips to see her mother. With a beautiful home in the country, endless sunny days and her first love next door, her second home in Hungary provides a teenage dream.
At sixteen years old, on her sixth visit to the beautiful Hungarian countryside, she decides to take control of her life. She wants to move to Hungary, she wants more grown-up relationships, wants to be treated as an adult but Marika is not so sure. After a heated conversation with her mother, she hears snippets of an argument, consisting of the terrifying sentence “you have to tell her.”
The author of The Book of Summers, Emylia Hall, has an excellent talent for setting a scene. Descriptions of Hungary’s rolling hills, blistering heat and the freedom Beth experiences there make her love of the country almost contagious through the pages. You fully understand why she comes to spend the rest of her year in Devon simply yearning to return there. I also found myself feeling so sorry for her father, even though he is not mentioned too often in the main storyline of the book. He really is taken for granted, but this is addressed later in the story.
There is a twist towards the end of this novel (don’t worry, no spoilers coming) and I loved the fact I thought I had guessed it, but then I turned out to be completely wrong. It is always lovely to read the unexpected.
The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall is is an incredibly descriptive story of a family that all lie to each other, thinking it is for the best, to cause as little pain as possible. I can see this book being hugely popular across the summer as despite it not being fast-paced, the characters are engrossing and although lip-bitingly sad at one point, it becomes refreshingly uplifting at the end. For anyone who enjoys beautifully written chic lit and whimsical stories about intricate family relationships, this debut is an absolute must.
If you like The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall, you’ll love The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin.
Buy The Book of Summer by Emylia Hall