Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Forgotten Summer - Carol Drinkwater

photo courtesy:bathfestivals.org.uk
A sunny breezy read to brighten the winter months.

At least that is how I felt when I read it just after the christmas festivities had died down and the January blues had just set in.

Carol Drinkwater's Olive farm series, that chronicles her experiences in France is quite well known. A quick search on the net further enlightened me that she was a big name, an actress well known for her role as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small.

Now that I suitably educated about the author, I was hoping that it may not mar my expectations about the book. I have to admit, the jacket is such a bright and an inviting one.It transported me instantly to a sunkissed holiday in France and found the story to be equally refreshing.


When the book opens, Jane is happily married to Luc, a film maker and is in France to visit his "hitler" mother Clarrisse. They make this annual trip to oversee the grape harvest at their plantation.

Although the friction between the women paves away for the plot, the first few lines are rich of vivid descriptions of the verdant landscape and bright sunny days. The setting provides a great platform for the story to unfold as Jane's simmering history with her mother-in-law is kept under check by Luc.

However, before the season is over, circumstances change. Jane's world is turned upside down and she is compelled to confront some ghosts and unsavoury secrets.

Jane is also forced to do something she loathes - return to the plantation and inhabit the manor house with Clarrisse.

What works:
  • The beautiful descriptions. They entice the reader to turn pages and relish the armchair visit to the French countryside.
  • The story. The plot steadily builds up the story and raises many hows and whys that keep the reader engaged.
  • The secrets. A good story always has some secrets that to hook the reader while enjoying the ride. 
  • The characters. These are people who feel real with their predicaments. They win empathy and the reader can see their personas very clearly.
  • Apart from an entertaining story, it also throws light about the Algerian war with France and its effects. Getting some history through an entertaining tale is always a plus with me.
What doesn't:
  • There were instances when the scenes and locations changed without notice. Usually the change is marked by a new paragraph. However in some places, the location just changed and the reader had to orient themselves without the benefit of a space between paragraphs. 
I suppose this was because mine was a proof copy and hopefully, the paperback will not have these inconsistencies.

I received this book as part of the goodreads giveway. However, that has not influenced my review in any way except for picking it up sooner so that I could comment on it.

I enjoy reading new authors and these giveaways give me a great opportunity to do just that.

It feels nice to read a feel good book that offers respite from the dull, grey English winter.

A great holiday read. Enjoy.

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