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The Book of Summers

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,261 ratings  ·  265 reviews
The perfect summer read from a glorious new voice in commercial literary fiction
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Headline Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2012)
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I am giving this a generous rating, because I'm in a generous mood, and the weather has been beautiful lately (although I say this just as the temperature has dropped 10 degrees and it's started raining), and this book - as the title would suggest - is perfect for long, hot, sunny days.

Beth (short for Erzsébet) is an ordinary single woman of about 30, living in London with a scatty flatmate and a nice job in an art gallery. Her life seems fairly uneventful, but we know from the beginning that sh
All week I've been carrying The Book of Summers with me, and opening it whenever I could so that I could be transported into another world.

First there was London, where thirty-year old Beth worked in an art gallery and lived a quiet life. The details of her world, her life, her situation were so well drawn that I was pulled in straight away.

Beth's equilibrium was disturbed by a visit from her father. They had been close when she was a child and he was bringing her up alone, she remembered that w
“I realized then that I’d tried so hard to forget the big things, that all the little things had gone too.”

For twenty years Beth Low has suppressed memories of her mother, Marika, and Hungary. Then her father visits her in London and gives her a package with Hungarian stamps on it. Inside she finds a letter, telling her that Marika has died and an album filled with photos. Photos capturing the seven summers during with Beth visited Hungary.
Beth isn’t sure that she wants to revisit the past she
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
Debut novelist Emylia Hall has taken inspiration from family holidays to rural Hungary during her childhood and woven these memories with her own imaginings to create a truly beautiful, heartfelt book.

In the novel, we meet Beth Lowe in the present day, living in London and working in an art gallery. Her father has come to visit her, and has brought with him a package for Beth that has been delivered to her back home in Devon. On opening it, and unwrapping The Book of Summers, she opens up the do
Liz Wilkins
Beth Lowe has been sent a parcel.
Inside is a letter informing her that Marika, her long-estranged mother has died. There is a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it’s stuffed with photographs and mementos compiled by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary.

The Book of Summers is a wonderful evocative tale of childhood memories brought back to life through unexpected means and the effect this has on the present day.

This is a quick and compelling read, very atmospheric - the coming-of-age tale of a girl torn between two worlds. Erszi is the daughter of a separated couple, a quiet, reserved English father and a passionate, artistic Hungarian mother. However, gradually it becomes apparent that all the characters involved are more complex than the national sterotypes on the surface.

The story unfolds in retrospect after heroine Erzsi is sent a scrapbook of photographs compiled by her long-estranged mother, Mar
The Book of Summers caught my eye a long time ago, on the Waterstones' shelf, along with other summer reads. The back cover promised a trip to exotic Hungary, full of vivid descriptions and family mysteries and I must admit that, after eventually finishing it, I am rather disappointed.
Everything starts in England, when Beth receives a letter from Hungary, telling her that her mother Marika has died. With it comes the Book of Summers, which contains photographs of the seven wonderful holidays she
Mar 24, 2012 lifeinsomniac rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: For anyone that believes in second chances and that it's never too late.
This book was an absolute surprise for me. Taking place in both present and past times, spanning across countries, we follow Beth Lowe as she looks through a scrapbook sent from an old friend, and created by her estranged mother. This book, called The Book of Summers, unlocks everything from 6 years she spent in Hungary, and the time surrounding it. The Book of Summers doesn’t only unlock those moments, they unlock a young Beth, and other feelings, and thoughts Beth thought she had left behind.

Jo Barton
The summers of our childhood pass by in misty recollection, and yet for Beth Lowe the memories of her special summers as a child in Hungary are something to be concealed. When a package is given to her along with some devastating news, Beth needs to find inner strength in order to face the demons of her past. The package reveals the Book of Summers lovingly compiled by her mother, Marika, and recalling the summers of Beth’s childhood between the ages of 10 and 16, when Beth left her home in Devo ...more
Shaz Goodwin
While Beth is sitting in Victoria Park, London, the reader journeys alongside her into those six summers of visits to Hungary interspersed with moments of reality. We are completely immersed in the world as it was at that time. Those sun-drenched summers are portrayed with life and zest. Beth often compares herself to her mother as she tries to find her own place of belonging. The writing is evocative and the author uses figurative language to draw the reader’s imagination (I loved Hall’s writin ...more
This book is magical, sad, tragic and redemptive all wrapped up in a love story to Hungary. A country about which, I must admit, I know very little. As the tale begins we meet Beth Lowe, a somewhat constrained and shall I say it, boring, young English woman with a very poor relationship with her father. He is coming to visit and the reader can tell she is oh so hopeful for more between them. But he comes not to see her but to deliver a package from Hungary - a package full of memories Beth would ...more
Gill Chedgey
The Book of Summers
Emylia Hall

Reading a debut novel is sometimes like opening a new jar of coffee, an experience to be savoured, a promise of things to come.
The Book of Summers is Emylia Hall’s debut novel. The title gives little away other than a seasonal hint. But the book is a tale of growing up, coming of age, of wanting and getting and getting and not wanting.
It’s a colourful, vibrant narrative that contrasts a somewhat staid routine England with a Bohemian, natural Hungary. There are times
When Beth was just nine years old, she and her father left their mother, Marika in Hungary and returned to England. Marika told Beth that Hungary was her home.Beth was devasted. However, Beth was able to visit her mother every summer.Beth and Marika looked forward to these summers. They shared laughes, love, and heartache. This changed when during one summer, Beth learned a secret that her mother had been keeping from her. A secret that tore them apart forever.

The Book of Summers is Mrs. Hall's
`Beth Lowe has been given a package. Inside is a letter informing her that her long estranged mother has dies, and a scrapbook Beth has never seen before. Entitled The Book of Summers, it`s stuffed with photographs and mementos compiled by her mother to record the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary.

It was a time when she trod the tightrope between separated parents and two very different countries, her bewitching but imperfect Hungarian mother, and her gentle, reticent
The Book of Summers is the debut novel of UK writer Emylia Hall. However, you wouldn't know this if it weren't mentioned in the little bio in the front, as it's beautifully written and non-stop engaging. The book has a lot more depth than the cute flowery Summer-read the cover suggests it to have.

30 year-old Beth lives in London and spends most of her time in the art gallery where she works. She leads a bit of a lonely life but seems reasonably content with that. Until an unexpected visit from h
I really enjoyed The Book of Summers. It's a beautifully written story that it's all too easy to get lost in. The beautiful landscapes described are easy to picture as are the characters. Such passion for life!! I can vividly imagine the places and paintings. The hot and dusty track in the stunning Hungarian countryside, to the wet and shining lanes of Devon. Wonderful! The twist in the story wasn't at all what I expected. Marika is an incredible character, easily pictured and easy to relate to. ...more
I absolutely loved this book. Long hot summers, luscious spicy Hungarian food and a deep family mystery.
Gosto de livros que alternem linhas temporais, bem escritos e que contenham em si segredos importantes para o enredo, que fazem com que o leitor se entusiasme durante a leitura para perceber, afinal, que segredos são esses. Algumas das minhas autoras favoritas a escrever livros do género são Kate Morton ou Susanna Kearsley (curioso, só me lembro de mulheres) e, como são livros de que costumo gostar bastante, ando sempre à procura de novos autores dentro do género (a título de curiosidade, podem ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
3.5 stars actually. Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

It’s a poetic trip to Hungary for the reader, with a bittersweet ending. A coming-of-age story that is tied to the decisions one can make in anger, and the regrets about those choices, but ultimately leading to forgiveness and maturity.

About: Beth (Erzsi - her Hungarian name) is now in her thirties and lives in London. She has repressed anger which comes out toward her father who lives miles away in Devon. When her father calls to v
Andrea Guy
This book was not what I expected in some ways. It was an emotional read and beautifully written. I know that I'll want to read more by Emylia Hall in the future.

All that said, much of the story bothered me because Emylia didn't give anything away until the very end.

All we know going in is that Beth has a so so relationship with her father and Marika has died and her husband/lover Zoltan has sent a package to Beth who neither had seen in 14 years.

This is where things get tricky.

Beth starts to lo
The book opens with Beth waiting for her father to visit; straight away the understanding is that while they are on friendly terms getting together is infrequent and uncomfortable. When he mentions he has a parcel from Hungary she gets really angry. Very quickly we discover that both of them are estranged from her mother, Marika, to the point that her very name is not mentioned by either of them. The tension that gently but irrevocably builds up throughout the story has started – why is there an ...more
Aine O'Callaghan
The plot of this debut novel develops slowly. Summers spent with the absentee parent- it’s something we’ve heard before. The kind but distant father and the flighty impulsive mother- well, there’s nothing strange there. It’s comforting and the character development keeps you interested so that you’re never bored but you’re not exactly devouring the pages either. At times the plot is dangerously close to being completely taken over by excessive descriptive imagery and you find yourself skimming c ...more
Marie desJardins
I'm torn between giving this book a 3 and a 4. I really liked how it was written, and some of the portrayals of place and character. But I just didn't buy the core premise. (view spoiler) ...more
Emylia Hall’s first novel, The Book of Summers, moves between Hungary, Devon and London. 30 year old Beth lives in London estranged from her mother, Marika, and not on brilliant terms with her father either. Beth’s mother and father separated when she was 9 and her mother lives in her native Hungary whilst her reserved, quiet father lives in Devon.
Every summer for 7 years Beth spends with her mother in Hungary until one year when she is 16 she learns a terrible family secret which destroys ever
Andreia Silva
Antes de mais tenho de referir que a pontuação deste livro é mais um 3.5 do que propriamente 3! Estive muito dividida nas estrelas a atribuir mas acho que as 3 são mais do que merecidas. À primeira impressão, este é um livro simples, sem grandes momentos de acção, sem muitas personagens nem teias de enredos entre as mesmas. E é simples, mas não deixa de ter dentro dele uma grande dose de emoção.

Fala-nos da Beth ou da Erzsi (em húngaro) que após a separação dos pais passa a ficar dividida entre u
One of the most boring books I've read in a while, I would only recommend it if you have insomnia. The setting in Hungary is interesting but everything is over-described. It's not even things that have relevance to the plot, ordinary everyday objects get 2 or 3 adjectives. Some of the descriptive passages are lovely but they are drowned out. It's not helped by the narrator being a selfish spoilt brat. Even though it's written in 1st person there's rarely any indication of emotion. For instance w ...more
I really enjoyed this story of Beth also known as Erzie. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that begin when her father brings her a package that has arrived from Hungary addressed to Beth in her Hungarian name. The unopened package causes an explosive reaction in Beth and begins a mystery that will slowly unravel as the reader is drawn into the story. The location of Beth's flashback's switch dramatically from staid proper England to sultry colorful Hungary. For six summers, Beth travel ...more
This book is fantastic.

It starts in London, the city I will always be involved in a love affair with, which is always a good omen. Beth is a woman in her late 20s who works at an art gallery and lives in a spacious if rickety flat with her roommate Lily. The story really begins with an awkward visit from her father, during which he presents her with a package he received from Hungary addressed to her.

Beth immediately recognizes the handwriting on the package as that of her estranged mother's p
Author: Emylia Hall
Published By: Mira: Original Edition
Age Recommend: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Raven Rating: 4
Blog Review For: Great Minds Think Aloud


"The Book of Summers" by Emylia Hall was indeed a wonderful book of Beth/Erszi trying to understand her past....her mothers family history...due to a unexpected parcel from Hungary. Now this is a very long descriptive read so be ready for the long read, however, if you can stay with this story line you will not be disappointed....going f
Beth is half English and half Hungarian so has always felt torn between two cultures and two places. When she receives word that her estranged mother has died, Beth also receives a home-made scrapbook chronicling the childhood and teenage summers she spent in Hungary. Looking through the book brings everything flooding back and makes Beth face up to a secret from her past – as well as how she reacted to it.

The Book of Summers is a real page-turner which keeps you going until the secret from the
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“If the skies were to fall, we'd have a chance of catching them.” 4 likes
“You know,' she said, 'that until you come here again, we’re all waiting for you. Not just me, but these fields, the house, that toad we nearly stepped on back there in the woods. We’re all here, waiting. Because we’re yours now. We belong to you. You’ve a whole other world here, Erzsi, you see. And every summer, the sun won’t shine until you come. Not for us.” 3 likes
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