Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Book review: Seven Days One Summer

By Kate Morris
Published by Short Books

As the gorgeous cover suggests, Seven Days One Summer is one of those novels that are best enjoyed on holiday, possibly while lounging around the swimming pool. Because I’m a rebel, I decided to read it in winter!

The pro was that I could close my eyes and almost picture myself walking under the Italian summer sun, exploring little village markets, savouring quality food and relaxing with a book at the pool side. The con was that only the fictional characters were actually doing that.

Kate Morris’s talent, however, is not only to be found in the description of places and meals. While developing her novel, she had the ability to identify the people who would normally be less likely to get along and she put them in the same villa for a week.

The events are narrated by Jen, who was invited to spend a week at the villa by Sam, an old friend who also happens to be the man she was in love with for a very long time. Has he ever loved her? Does he love her now? Despite being accompanied by her long-term partner and their son and wanting this holiday to be a fresh start for their strained relationship, these questions seem to be extremely important for her.

For this reason, as well as for other contradictory traits of her personality, I found it impossible to warm to the narrator and I wonder whether I might have preferred a less partial recounting of the events.

The other guests included a newly-married couple, a soon-to-be-married couple and a divorced, ego-centric actor with his two small children. Eight adults, three children, a peculiar housekeeper and a lot of unresolved issues concerning motherhood, marriage, friendship and loyalty. Spats, reconciliations, near-death experiences… a week can be very long!

I felt more like one of the characters trapped in a villa with people they don’t like than a mere spectator and this is, I believe, why the book works.

Kate Morris has recently agreed to answer a few of my questions, click here to read our exchange.

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