Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Summer House by Santa Montefiore

4 Star

When her husband, George, dies tragically in an accident, Antoinette is grief stricken. At his funeral, she sees a woman she's never met before and in that instant, the day she thought would close a door on the past becomes the day that everything she's ever known is turned upside down.

Phaedra loved George too and could not bear to stay away. She only recently came to know him, but their bond was stronger than any she'd ever felt before. As she sits before his wife, she knows that what she is about to reveal will change all their lives forever ...

Kathryn - 4 Star

The mysterious story behind the nature of George and Phaedra’s relationship is what really motivated me to keep reading what seemed like quite a long read (I was jet lagged, so kept falling asleep, which I’m sure didn’t help). Montefiore is skilled at developing a character though and my slightly dozy-self got really hooked on the different levels of the relationships as they progressed. My mind was also constantly envisioning their idyllic surroundings and hoping for a perfect outcome. My natural instinct was to root for Phaedra, though there seemed to be little likelihood that things would work out in her favour, and I hoped that Montefiore would give us even more background for her as she was such a lost soul.  Despite being so likeable, there was always something that held me back from truly accepting her tale. 

I’m of two minds about The Summer House, even a few days after finishing it.  On the one hand, I loved the character development and the descriptive nature of the novel, but I also found that there was so much of it that it sometimes felt a little like “filler”.  There seemed to be a lot of lunches, dinners and generally hanging out that didn’t really move the plot along. I think it would have been interesting to have some back story for Antoinette and George’s relationship, something to give the reader an idea of their interaction before he passed away. Antoinette comes out as being so na├»ve but I felt like she was probably truly blind to her husband’s other side. If we’d seen some of their life together she may not have appeared so gullible. Next to her mother-in-law, Margaret, she was a little lamb to a tiger and while Margaret was introduced as being the ever controlling matriarch she ended up being my favourite personality by far.  Quick witted and yet thoughtful, I was pleased that she and Antoinette eventually came to understand each other.

My struggle is really that I liked the way Montefiore wrote and enjoyed the book - but I think I would have LOVED it if it was just a teeny bit shorter, had a bit more oompf and had a more tangible history for both Phaedra and Antoinette. 

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