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The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall
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The Book of Summers (edition 2012)

by Emylia Hall

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7911152,477 (3.9)9
Member:AidaDee
Title:The Book of Summers
Authors:Emylia Hall
Info:Mira (2012), Edition: Original, Paperback, 368 pages
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The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall

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The book opens with Beth waiting for her father to visit; straight away the understanding is that while they are on friendly terms getting together is infrequent and uncomfortable. When he mentions he has a parcel from Hungary she gets really angry. Very quickly we discover that both of them are estranged from her mother, Marika, to the point that her very name is not mentioned by either of them. The tension that gently but irrevocably builds up throughout the story has started – why is there an emotional barrier between Beth and her father? What has Marika done to be banned from her life, and the life of her father? What is in the parcel? That is the easy part – in the parcel is The Book of Summers a scrapbook kept by Marika of the six wonderful summers that Beth spent in Hungary after Marika and her father separated. As Beth looks at the scrapbook she remembers what happens and the story is revealed.

It is not often that I keep record of quotes that I like from a book – I make an exception with this one – as the words speak the truth and both of these excerpts appear in the first little bit of the book and give an example of why the story seduced me:

From page 9: “…There is a sad kind of poetry in the unsuspecting. For every catastrophe that befalls us there was a time before when we were quite oblivious. Little did we know how happy we were then…”

From page 17 “…I know this much: the old hurts never go. In fact they're the things that shape us, they're the things we look to, when we turn out roughshod and messy at the edges…”

The Book of Summers is a slow-paced poetic, lyrical, meandering story, full of emotion and nostalgia, an utter delight to read. All the characters are vividly portrayed, I could ‘see’ them each time they appeared on the pages. While not fast paced the story just immerses you, drawing you into the story, revealing information bit by bit but not so much that the ending can be guessed. And what an ending, it was so unexpected and so unpredictable. I did not see it coming at all. I hope there will be more books soon.
  sally906 | Apr 3, 2013 |
This book is life changing. Really. I'm sure there are many women who can identify with Marika. The best way to describe this story is to say... you begin a journey that you dream about in secret, and get to see the results without actually living the dream. Thank you Ms. Hall. Really. ( )
  Suzannepalmieri | Mar 5, 2013 |
This book was an absolute surprise for me. Taking place in both present and past times, spanning across countries, we follow Beth Lowe as she looks through a scrapbook sent from an old friend, and created by her estranged mother. This book, called The Book of Summers, unlocks everything from 6 years she spent in Hungary, and the time surrounding it. The Book of Summers doesn’t only unlock those moments, they unlock a young Beth, and other feelings, and thoughts Beth thought she had left behind.

Emylia really cares about her characters: no matter what they’ve done you feel for them, you understand their reasons, you want them to be okay. This can be really difficult to achieve but Emylia makes it look easy. It’s important for me to like the characters, to want to follow their story, and see them succeed, and this Emylia manages to do with all of them.

Another thing the author manages to do is make you really feel the places you are in. There are no lengthy, boring descriptions, but she describes them well, you can see those places, feel them, want to be there. I mean I was ready to get a plane ticket to Hungary because of her book, and you can tell her love for this place, having travelled to Hungary herself since the Berlin Wall came down.

This is a book about re-awakenings, about never being too late, and to never ignore your heart. I fell in love with this book, the people, and the places, and I will be reading this again! ( )
  Betterman | Feb 24, 2013 |
I loved the relationship between Beth and her father despite the focus on her relationship with Marika. I particularly liked the part where she talked to her father about the many different paths that their lives could have taken if the secret had been revealed earlier. ( )
  Carolinejyoung | Oct 20, 2012 |
This book is magical, sad, tragic and redemptive all wrapped up in a love story to Hungary. A country about which, I must admit, I know very little. As the tale begins we meet Beth Lowe, a somewhat constrained and shall I say it, boring, young English woman with a very poor relationship with her father. He is coming to visit and the reader can tell she is oh so hopeful for more between them. But he comes not to see her but to deliver a package from Hungary - a package full of memories Beth would rather not revisit.

I fell into this book and could not put it down. The writing! The writing! It is magical - it drew me in and wouldn't let me go. I felt the sun. I was refreshed by a dip in a pool deep in the forest. I fell in love with a country I know nothing about. Such is the power of Ms. Hall's pen. As to the story - she had me raving at characters, crying at passages and rejoicing at conclusions that were still very uncertain. I can't say I agree with or understand the actions of her protagonist - it's a lot of anger to hold for a very long time - but I can't say that I didn't enjoy the journey.

I'm keeping this one for it is one that deserves another read or two. I know that I'll find nuances I missed on my first read through that will enhance the story and it's one of those tales that will read better with foreknowledge of the ending. This will be one of my top ten for the year. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Jul 10, 2012 |
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Beth Lowe receives a scrapbook from her long-estranged mother entitled The Book of Summers which is filled with photographs and mementos recording the seven glorious childhood summers Beth spent in rural Hungary before it all came brutally to an end when she turned sixteen.… (more)

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