Summer of Love
A standalone sequel to The Summer House Party, Summer of Love continues the story of a family in post-World War II England, a family with complicated relationships and shattered illusions. At the heart of the story are Max, Laura, and Avril, who are tenuously connected by loose biological threads. The book opens when the three are pre-teens and continues into their young adulthood; early in the book, a tragedy splits the three apart.
Sonia raises Laura and Avril, though Laura is not Sonia’s biological daughter. Avril spends her entire life resenting the beautiful Laura, believing that Laura stole attention that should rightfully have been hers. When Sonia dies, Avril’s cruelty toward Laura is renewed with a vengeance.
The idyllic country setting where some of the book takes place is in sharp contrast to the turmoil that all of the characters experience. Laura spends her life in an elusive search for love and purpose; despite a childhood loss, Max achieves success in his work but spends years denying his sexuality; and Avril, though a successful businesswoman, cannot let go of the bitterness she feels toward Laura. The multiple storylines add texture to the story, and it is intriguing how the main characters’ paths cross on and off over the years. Ultimately, the book is about how the truth will always come to light, and about how childhood relationships and incidences can shape your adult life.
The author captures the feel of London in the ‘50s and ‘60s, addressing issues of multiracial relationships, the burgeoning art scene, and homosexuality. The ending is somewhat unsatisfying, with several characters’ stories seemingly unresolved; however, this does leave room for a third installment should the author so choose.