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9 July 2013

Review: 'In the Summertime' by Judy Astley (2013)

It's twenty years since Miranda, then sixteen, holidayed in Cornwall and her life changed forever. Now she's back again - with her mother Clare and the ashes of her stepfather Jack, whose wish was to be scattered on the sea overlooked by their one-time holiday home.

The picturesque cove seems just the same as ever, but the people are different - more smart incomers,fewer locals, more luxury yachts in the harbour. But Miranda and Clare both find some strangely familiar faces, and revisit the emotions they both thought had disappeared.

When I found a review copy of Judy Astley’s latest novel ‘In the Summertime’ in my mailbox (thanks to the amazing people at Transworld), I immediately started longing for my summer holidays a little bit more. The cover and blurb promise a perfect-for-a-day-on-the-beach holiday read, so I was looking forward to getting stuck in the story and imagining myself sitting on a sunny Cornwall beach!

When she was a 16-year-old girl, Miranda spent her summer holiday in Cornwall, where she experienced certain things that changed her life completely. She’s now a 36-year-old woman and going back to that exact same village in Cornwall to spend the summer. Main reason is her mother Clare, who has just lost her husband Jack, and wants to scatter his ashes on the sea near their beloved Cornish holiday home. Miranda’s teenage kids, Silva and Bo, have come along on the trip, and it doesn’t take long before Harriet, Miranda’s sister, joins them as well. Miranda soon realises that in contrast to what she initially expected, there are still lots of familiar faces walking around in Chapel Creek, including her former best friends Jess and Andrew, and her holiday crush Steve. It doesn’t take long before forgotten memories and emotions return, and it becomes clear this holiday has much in store for not just Miranda, but the rest of her family as well.

Miranda is such a likeable and warm character; I liked her from the first few pages of the novel. I enjoyed the fact that the story focused on different generations of one family. There’s Miranda in the middle (together with her sister Harriet, who is fleeing from her famous footballer boyfriend and the paparazzi); their mother Clare, who is trying to deal with the loss of her husband; and the kids, Silva and Bo, who are both dealing with their own teenage troubles of trying to fit in. Family takes on a central place in the story, and I loved the way Miranda tries to keep them all together. Next to this, the scene setting and the descriptions of Cornwall were fabulous, and they really gave me that summer feeling.    

After reading this novel, I found out it is actually a sequel to another novel by Judy Astley, ‘Just for the Summer.’ I had absolutely no idea about this when I started reading ‘In the Summertime’, but I never had the feeling as if I was missing bits of information. Astley has made sure everyone can read and enjoy this novel, and now I am actually looking forward to reading the prequel to see what the characters were like in their younger years! ‘In the Summertime’ is a lovely holiday read about a variety of characters, spread over three generations, which will warm your heart and make you long for sunshine and long days on the beach! 


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