My last two reads were very similar despite being set in different time periods. Both centred around a rich girl who falls in love with a not so rich boy during those long summer months. Needless to say, everything is not hunky dory for the star crossed lovers.
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
Clarissa is the youngest of the four Granville children. She is also the only girl, therefore she is used to a life of cotton wool wrapped privilege as she frolics around the grounds of her beloved estate, Deyning. However, everything changes during her seventeenth summer when she gets to know Tom Cuthbert who is the son of the Granville's servant Mrs Cuthbert. They have a whirlwind (albeit quite chaste) romance and then BOOM all the young boys are signing up to join the Army because it's 1914 and war has been declared. The remainder of the book deals with life on the homefront from the more privileged perspective until the war ends giving way to the swinging twenties and a new Britian.
This book was extremely well written. At first, with the whole falling in love with 'the help' thing and the big house and the loveable dad, I thought 'oh here we go, Downton Abbey 2.0'. However, I was pleasantly surprised because once the war began the tone shifted and if I had to compare it to anything else I would say Atonement. Judith Kinghorn manages to convey such a sense of loss and hopelessness- paritcularly around halfway through- but it never feels pitiful or melodramatic. I also learnt a lot and was forced to consider aspects of WWI that I'd never thought about before. For example, getting all surviving soldiers back to England at the end! It sounds so simple yet...nope, never thought about it before.
Also, the characters were well developed, particularly Clarissa. Again, it might sound like a given considering she is the main character but I have read many books of late where the main character is criminally two dimensional. This meant that the love story played out nicely too.
With the exception of perhaps Charlie's final actions, I think this book was a solid piece of work. I am looking forward to whatever Judith Kinghorn puts out next and would reccomnned The Last Summer to anybody who enjoyed (if that's a word one can use in relation to such a tragic story) Atonement.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Format: Kindle e-book
I had been putting off purchasing this e-book because it continually seemed to be priced at £9.20. However, in the end I decided to just go for it because I've been wanting to read it since last year. I am glad to say I was not disappointed.
Samantha is the privileged daughter of a single mother and politician. Jase is one of eight (I think?!) children and also Samantha's neighbour. Samantha has always watched her fun loving, rowdy next door neighbours from afar but one day Jase decides to tip the balance by talking to Samantha. Then BOOM. No, there's no war in this one but they begin a very sweet (and not so chaste) relationship amidst the turmoil of country clubs, re-election campaigns with managers who would put Eli Gold to shame, and a bunch of little kids who need babysitting.
I really liked this book. It was just bursting with love and it was really obvious that Huntley Fitzpatrick poured something of herself into her work. Some things just can't be made up. Sometimes the writing was a little clumsy and I had to re-read sentences (perhaps it was something to do with the Kindle version?) but the story overshadowed all of that. All of the characters were so vividly written- it was one of those books that breathes. I was pleasantly surprised when things took a turn in a more serious direction in the final third with the message of dealing with the consequences being hammered home in a harsh way. Again, I really liked Samantha (even though I couldn't get Quinn Fabray out of my head whenever she spoke) and I thought she carried the mantle of 'leading lady' very well. I hope there''s a sequel in the works. If not, I want to read whatever is next from Huntley Fitzpatrick now. Right now.
I can't think of any comparisons but I urge you to read this- even if it still costs £9.20 on Kindle- right away.