Leah's Reviews > The Summer Season

The Summer Season by Julia Williams
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Jun 07, 11

bookshelves: books-read-2011, for-review
Read on June 07, 2011

I’m a big ol’ fan of Julia Williams, having read her first novel Pastures New way back in 2008 and thoroughly enjoying the warmth Julia managed to encapsulate into the novel. I quickly followed it up by reading Strictly Love and Last Christmas, and her fourth novel The Bridesmaid Pact is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. She’s an author whose books I really look forward to, and I was incredibly pleased to receive a copy of her new novel The Summer Season. It has a pale green cover – I was surprised, actually, when I pulled it out and saw it – which is incredibly beautiful and because I hadn’t officially started anything when the postie brought it, I decided to read it immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and although the front cover is summer-themed, I do also think it would be the perfect novel to curl up with on a cold day, as well.

What I like best about Julia Williams’s novels is that she takes two or three characters, introduces us to them and makes us care for them deeply. Although the plot of the novel is wonderful, for me it’s her characters that I truly read her books for because she has such a good grasp for writing sympathetic and warm characters. I always scoff when people liken a novel to a hot drink, it’s so cliched that it makes me cringe, but Julia Williams’s novels do rather make me feel pretty much how I suspect a hot chocolate would. It’s warm and inviting and pretty wonderful, actually. Oh God, I’ve become a reviewer who talks in cliches. Please forgive my indulgence just then. A lot of the novel is about gardening, and I must admit, I’m not exactly ‘up’ on flowers or trees although I do know what a rake and a hoe and other gardening tools are. I found that Williams put a lot of care into the flowers she choose to exhibit as Joel and Kezzie restore Joel’s great-great-Grandfather’s garden. I never once found the flower explanations boring, in fact quite the opposite, I found it very intriguing and the explanations are enough that a gardening novice like me is well able to understand what’s going on.

My absolute favourite part of the novel though, was the backstory of Edward and Lily Handford, Joel’s great-great-Grandparents. Regularly, throughout the novel, we have excerpts from their diaries and we see letters they wrote to each other in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. We get to bear witness to their great love, learn of their life together, their tragedies, but most of all it’s the core of the novel, with the knotgarden Edward created for Lily for her wedding present. Most of the time I’m allergic to novels set in anytime other than the 2000s, but I found Edward and Lily’s life to be enchating, and I longed for more chapters from them, longed to know more of their story. Julia Williams says in her acknowledgements that her editor made her make Edward and Lily’s story a more important part of The Summer Season and I thank her for that because it was a wonderful addition and I can’t bear to think there was less of them in the novel at one point.

I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters, from Lauren, Joel and Kezzie in the present day to Edward, Lily and their family way back when. Lauren seemed a bit wiser than her years (she was meant to be 25, if my adding up is correct, but seemed more in her thirties, but I presume having her twins has made her that way!) but I really felt for her, struggling to bring up her twins solo. I felt sorry for Joel, who had lost his wife Claire a year earlier, and was since bringing up their son Sam. His guilt was horrible to witness, and I just wanted someone to make it OK for him again. I had my doubts about Kezzie, but she grew on me quite quickly. I wasn’t a fan of the dope-smoking (yeah, I know, everyone does it, blah blah blah and I’m old before my time at 21) but I just found it quite immature for someone aged 30. I loved her energy though and her enthusiasm for gardening was brilliant. I didn’t think much of Troy, Lauren’s ex, he was too slimy and overconfident for my tastes.

The Summer Season would have been a perfect novel. But I was incredibly disappointed that Lauren gave slimy Troy a second chance. It was inevitable he would come back on the scene, and it’s one of the worst things in Chick Lit. Seriously, there’s nothing that gets on my nerves more than the main character giving her slimy ex another chance because he says he’s changed. I personally think it’s quite lazy, and I find myself increasingly saying it as most authors do it consistently. (I feel a horrible sense of deja vu typing this, I’m fairly sure I’ve whinged about it already somewhere in a review.) It’s my biggest Chick Lit bug bear, and it did knock the shine off what was, up until then, a magnificent read. Julia Williams is a stunning writer, all of her stories manage to suck me in and keep hold of me until I reach the end and The Summer Season was no different. I absolutely loved it, apart from that one thing, and it’s definitely a book to curl up with. I really, really liked it.
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06/07/2011 page 1
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06/07/2011 page 261
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