Thursday, 27 July 2017

Summer on Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy - A Deep and Loving Story

Many of us have rented a holiday home for two weeks by a lake or beside the sea, but how many of us wonder about the lives of the people who live there all year round, or the visitors who stay so regularly that they become part of the community and therefore inextricably intertwined with them?
Jen Gilroy paints a beautiful picture of the seasons in Vermont, in the second novel of her trilogy, Summer on Firefly Lake, and the lake itself becomes almost another character in the story, reflecting the actions of the people involved in and around it.
You don't have to have read her first book, The Cottage at Firefly Lake, because each stands alone, but that one centres on Sean and Charlie who rekindle their love after twenty years, and this one concerns Nick, Sean's friend, and Charlie's sister, Mia, although Sean and Charlie do appear!
Nick is a high-flying lawyer in New York. He is back at the lake to help his mother sell the family home, Harbor House, after her illness, and move into a bungalow as fast as possible so he can return to the big city on Labor Day.
Mia is settling at the lake with her daughters, Naomi and Emma, to be near Charlie because her husband, Jay, has gone off with a younger woman.
Neither want a relationship: Mia, because of the way Jay has treated her, and Nick, because his wife Isobel left him too, but as the summer progresses they begin to fall in love, but will it be the sort of love that will make them want to stay together forever?
Gabrielle, Nick's mother, also falls in love with Ward, a man who is visiting the lake to make a wildlife film, and it is touching to see people in their sixties facing the same problems of commitment as the younger ones.
Another key character is Kylie, a twelve-year-old who has spent her life in foster care.  Her social worker has arranged for her to spend some time at Camp Rainbow which has been set up in the cottage that belonged to Mia and Charlie's mother. When Mia and Nick take an interest in her, she tries to keep them together, just like Gabrielle does because to her Mia is the perfect woman for her son.
Nick and Mia do appear to be a perfect match, but it becomes clear that events in their teens are keeping them from each other too. Will they be able to let go of the past and their desire for independence and freedom, or will they find independence and freedom together at Firefly Lake?
I really enjoyed Jen Gilroy's deep and loving story which explores the love between lonely adults, the love between a son and his mother, and the love that can be shared with a lonely child.
I'm looking forward to her third book, Back Home at Firefly Lake. It's out in the UK on December 28th 2017, and it's got snow on the cover! Perfect for reading after Christmas!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara - A Fantastic Summer Read!

Apart from her dislike of roses, Poppy Carmichael has a secret that she cannot share with anyone. So when she inherits The Daisy Chain, her Grandma Rose's flower shop, and returns to St Felix in Cornwall to run it, she has to face up to all the memories that the seaside town holds.
I loved The Little Flower Shop by the Sea by Ali McNamara. There is a great cast of characters including Amber who has been sent from New York to help her run the shop by Poppy's mother, an international florist, who seems always to be a shadowy figure at the end of the phone, but who plays a big part in organising Poppy's life; Jake, a local nurseryman, who supplies the flower shop, but who can't let go of the memories of his wife, Isabelle, who died, leaving him with their two children, Charlie and Bronte; Ash, who carries on the job of gardening at Trecarlan Castle that his grandfather once did, although the building is in disrepair, and it's owner, Stan, is in a retirement home; not to mention Basil, Rose's dog, and Miley, Jake's monkey!
It's a fabulous summer story, and with the castle, the monkey and, secret footpaths along the cliffs, it is almost in parts like Enid Blyton for grown-ups, especially when Jake and Ash both take an interest in Poppy. Add to this, Rose's books about the magic language of flowers, reflected in the chapter headings, which change the lives of people of St Felix, and the wonderful picture of the seaside town that Ali McNamara evokes, you can almost hear the gulls and smell the fish and chips!
This is a fantastic summer read which made me laugh out loud, and cry too. Whether you are going to Cornwall for your holiday or not, this book is the next best thing!

Ali's new book, The Summer of Serendipity set on the west coast of Ireland is out now, and I can't wait to read it!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley - a Fabulous Summer Read!

My summer reading is well underway with the new book by Rosanna Ley, The Little Theatre by the Sea, set in beautiful West Dorset and Sardinia.

Faye, unattached and with a new degree in interior design, is invited to house-sit in Sardinia, by her friend, Charlotte, whilst she and her hotelier husband go to Italy for a month on a business trip. It sounds like a wonderful idea to spend a month in the sun, but what Charlotte doesn't tell her until she gets there is that the Alessandro Rinaldi and his sister, Marisa, are looking for someone to renovate the town's Little Theatre. She also doesn't let her know about the animosity in the town towards the Rinaldis and their plans, especially from Pasquale de Montis, an elderly actor, who does not want the theatre to change in any way, and Enrico Volti and his friends, who contest the Rinaldis' ownership of the theatre in the first place.
Cagliari, Sardinia
The story is all about secrets and relationships: secrets that the people of Deriu keep from Faye, and each other, and the secrets that her parents have kept from her, and each other too, as well as the complex relationships between all the characters. For example, the fledgling relationship between Faye and Alessandro, and the failing relationship between her parents, Ade and Molly; the deep love Pasquale felt for Sofia, Alessandro's and Marisa's mother, and the rejection he has never got over when she married Bruno Rinaldi; and the parental love between Enrico and his lost daughter, Giorgia, and the strained love between Pasquale and his even more elderly mother, Dorotea.
Cagliari, Sardinia
One of Rosanna's many writing skills is to make the setting an integral part of the story, contrasting the hot emotions of the people who live in sunny Sardinia, with the cooling of the relationship of Faye's parents back in England; and the decay and demise of the Little Theatre representing the breakdown in friendships, and the renewal of the theatre as a new beginning.

This is a fabulous summer read, whether you're headed to Sardinia or West Dorset for your holiday, or enjoying it in the back garden with a cup of tea !