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The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
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The Lemon Grove

by Helen Walsh

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8811205,086 (3.02)5

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A taboo sort of book, either you'll like/love it or you will hate it. I found it compelling and disturbing in equal measure. It's the sort of novel that your thoughts return to again and again. I tend to appreciate writing that makes me question the scandalous choices that people make whilst under the influence of the heat of a forbidden passion. None of the characters involved are particularly likeable and yet I had to know what the outcome would be. Riveting reading but disquieting and dysfunctional too. ( )
  marjorie.mallon | Mar 27, 2019 |
An interesting and easy read, I managed it in only a matter of a few hours. It captivated me in its descriptions, definitely felt like I was on holiday, however it could be a bit confusing at times and at times disappointing. ( )
  Charlotte1162 | Nov 29, 2017 |
In terms of atmosphere and mood, this book reminds me of two of my favorite contemporary novels, Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse and Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name. All three are deeply sensual tales of desire that take place during a summer holiday in a Mediterranean resort town. But while the Sagan and Aciman books are about of the first stirrings of teenaged lust, Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove is about the surprising re-awakening of sexual yearning in a middle-aged woman. And not only is she married, but the young man Jenn is attracted to is her daughter’s teenaged boyfriend, Nathan. Surprisingly, Nathan reciprocates her desire and pursues her relentlessly until they fall into an intense week long affair. All this while they share a villa in Majorca with her husband and daughter.

There’s so much more to this novel than just the story of a tawdry affair. Walsh excels in making palpable the sensual pleasures enjoyed by her characters – the heat of the sun, the brisk chill of the surf, the tannic taste of rich red wine, the saline bite of Spanish ham and of course, the thrilling touch of unfamiliar fingers on flesh – all come to life on the page. But she’s also a master story-teller in how little-by-little she reveals facts about Jenn and her relationships with her professor husband Greg and their daughter so that her behavior becomes more understandable, if not exactly acceptable. Plus there’s an element of suspense, as the reader is kept constantly on edge over whether Jenn and Nathan will get caught. But ultimately, this is the story about a marriage…and marriage, in general. How it can be either strengthened or constrained by familiarity and routine, oftentimes both at once. Although Jenn’s scenes with Nathan are certainly heart-racing (oh, did I mention the sex is pretty darned hot?), it’s the sedate moments between her and Greg, where they reminisce about their yearly holidays at the villa, that really resonate.

I hesitate to say too much because there were a few unexpected elements that might take some readers by surprise. But all in all, an enjoyable read that will appeal to women of a certain age. ( )
  blakefraina | Nov 14, 2017 |
Before publication I read several reviews of this book and was keen to read it. When I was given a copy to review by NetGalley I was delighted. Sadly, this book did not live up to its pre-publication hype for me and I certainly did not find it " unstoppably sexy and unputdownable".

The premise of the novel was a good one. On the surface Jen and Greg are a happily married couple enjoying their annual villa holiday in Mallorca. Things start to go wrong when they are joined by his daughter and her boyfriend for the remainder of her holiday. The problems are caused because Jen finds herself suffering from a female mid life crisis and is drawn to the daughters boyfriend and becomes obsessively involved with him. So far so good, except I found it implausible because of the ages of the protagonists and also because the characters were not particularly likeable. Greg is an intellectual snob, Jen appears to have no sense of propriety, Emma the daughter is a manipulative taciturn 15 year old and Nathan (the boyfriend) is a self obsessed, cocky (excuse the pun) 17 year old. Had the daughter and boyfriend been older, it might have made the "affair" between Jen and Nathan more believable, but I just could not see what the attraction was. Furthermore the sexual encounters between the two were certainly not sexy, but often quite hurried couplings that were to be honest quite squalid. The language used to describe the sex was coarse and basic, pretty much like the level of attraction.

I'm honestly not sure whether this was a work of genius - if the idea was to engender such feelings in the reader, or rather a misguided attempt to portray mid life obsession. The reason I'm not sure is because the standard of writing on the whole is good and the description of Mallorca as a holiday island really comes across well.

Having read other reviews since I think this book certainly divides opinion, I suppose it depends on personal taste, but for me it didn't work.


( )
  Jilldoyle | Mar 27, 2016 |
Not a big fan of well off, petty, bitter and jaded old white women. Especially when the majority of the book were long descriptions of being jealous of her daughter's "tight, young body" and bashing other women's bodies to make herself feel better, and sleeping with her daughter's boyfriend. I entered the giveaway thinking that if I won this, it'd be a good laugh. It was. This book was a joke. Sadly, some women will agree and support Jenn, and even wish this would happen to them. This book is a fantasy that many old women desperately wish would come true, so much like Fifty Shades of Grey. It's sad. It kind of hits home, for me, and, while I took this book as nothing but fanfiction, it really, truly disturbs me that cheating is almost even glorified today, as proven here. Disgusting.

Two stars for atrocious writing, characters, and plot, but for also making me laugh at the stupidity of it all. I might review this properly later. We'll see.

I won this book in a giveaway. ( )
  KillerCorp | Jul 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345813960, Paperback)

Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth.
 
Taking place over the course of one week, The Lemon Grove lands in the heat of Deia, a village on an island off the southeast coast of Spain. Jenn and Greg are on their annual holiday to enjoy languorous, close afternoons by the pool, and relaxed dinners overlooking the rocks. But the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of their teenage daughter, Emma, and her boyfriend, Nathan. Jenn, in her early forties, loves her (older) husband and her (step)daughter and is content with her life, she thinks. But when this beautiful, reckless young man comes into her world, she is caught by a sexual compulsion that she's seldom felt before. As the lines hotly blur between attraction, desire and obsession, Jenn’s world is thrown into tumult--by Nathan's side, she could be young and carefree once again, and at this stage in her life, the promise of youth is every bit as seductive as the promise of passion. Jenn struggles between the conflicting pulls of resistance and release, and the events of the next few days have the potential to put lives in jeopardy as the players carry out their roles in this unstoppably sexy and unputdownable novel from a brilliant observer of the human condition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

Married for years, Jenn and Greg share an idyllic holiday in Majorca, until the arrival of Greg's fifteen-year-old daughter with her new boyfriend turns Jenn's world upside down as her attraction to the teenager turns into obsession.

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