The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn

It was the voice that captured me first: a wonderfully human mix of intelligence, vulnerability, understanding, and fallibility.

“I was almost seventeen when the spell of my childhood was broken. There was no sudden jolt, no immediate awakening and no alteration, as far as I’m aware, in the earth’s axis that day. But the vibration of change was upon us, and I sensed a shift; a realignment of my trajectory. It was the beginning of summer and, unbeknown to any of us then, the end of a belle époque.”

Clarissa told her own story, and from the very beginning I could hear her voice, and she drew me into her world completely.

She was seventeen when we met, at her parents’ country estate. I could see the house, the grounds – the flowers especially – and I understood that Clarissa and her three elder brothers had enjoyed a wonderful childhood.

When Clarissa fell in love with Tom Cuthbert, the housekeeper’s son,  I knew that their future would not be assured. They knew that Clarissa’s parents would not approve of their relationship.

And that was not the only obstacle: the year was 1914, and the Great War would change the world that Clarissa had known changed forever.

So much happened as the years passed Clarissa grew from a society debutante into a mature woman.

Her love for Tom was the only constant, but whenever fate brought them together it swiftly pulled tham apart again.

And the Great War had many lasting consequences: on lives and on society.

Through it all Clarissa’s voice remained true, and I went through so many emotions, saw so many changes with her.

Judith Kinghorn has created a wonderful heroine, and plotted her story so very, very cleverly. I knew where I wanted her story to go but I never knew quite if it would, how it would.

She says much about consequences of war and the social upheaval of the twenties and thirties simply by having Clarissa tell her story.

That’s clever writing. And it’s beautiful writing too.

Writing to transport you into Clarissa’s world and so see people, places, events through her eyes.

Every detail was right, every note rang true.

I’m tempted to share more details, but I’m not going to: if you want to know more you really should pick up the book, meet Clarissa, and learn those details from her.

I’m so glad that I did.

13 responses

  1. I dont regret reading your reviews but it leaves me feeling slightly on edge that I do not have access to these books easily. Sorry about the rant but books and specially “these special” ones are not found here.

    • I try to make it clear when books are oop, but This one has a major publisher (Headline) so hopefully go will be able to read it someday.

  2. I just finished reading this book last night and I enjoyed it too. I agree that the writing is beautiful and I also liked the way the book covered so many different aspects of the war and its effects on society.

  3. The paperback version will be available tomorrow in the States. I’m tempted to buy this one for myself for my birthday! Too bad it isn’t on the Kindle or I would immediately click a few buttons and voila’ it would be in my hands like right now!

    • We just have the hardback in the UK, and the paperback is coming it May. I would guess that it will be available for Kindle sometime as it’s a potentially huge book from a major publisher. You are going to love it!

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