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Island Summers: Memories of a Norwegian Childhood Hardcover – 4 Jul 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408812134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408812136
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.9 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 488,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Utterly captivating ... reminiscent at times of Roald Dahl's Boy. At moments she touches genius (Donald Sturrock)

Perfectly evokes the calm and content that comes with a modest, self-sufficient way of life . charming. (Daily Telegraph)

A paean to simple pleasures (Harper's Bazaar)

Somehow, it also captures all of our timeless childhood summers, all of our treasuring of family traditions, all of our relationships with siblings and cousins, parents and grandparents, all of our careful passing on of pastimes from one generation to the next, all of our love of nature and of homemade food, all of our hopes and dreams about continuity. So captivating are Miss Culme-Seymour's vignettes and descriptions that I was totally drawn in and, like her, came to dread the end-of-August departures. An instinctively seductive and sensual writer, she hooks you with all the senses (Country Life)

A prose poem to a private idyll (The Times)

A lovely blend of biography, topography and gastronomy ... She has created a lip-smacking lexicon of dishes inviting elongated vowels and dead-headed consonants ... And a cardiac-arrest threatening approach to ingredients ... Sensual foodie prose (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The enchanting true story of three generations of women, and the tiny Norwegian island that became part of their lives

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had read very favourable reviews of this book and was looking forward to receiving my copy. Unfortunately, I entirely failed to connect with any of the people this book is about, and the island stories depicted therein. To my surprise, I found the description of the various people and events strangely detached, pale, somewhat lifeless. I certainly didn't find myself drawn into the story, neither "captivated" nor "enchanted", as the blurb had promised. The author's language throughout struck me as peculiarly removed, even impersonal. I had the impression that the book had been written by an impassive outsider, instead of a family member, having experienced these island summers. I was astonished at how disappointed I was with my purchase.
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By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw this attractively presented book by Tilly Culme-Seymour, a memoir of her family's summers spent on a tiny Norwegian island, it brought thoughts of Arthur Ransome's 'Swallows and Amazons' and Tove Jansson's wonderful "The Summer Book' to mind, and I simply had to buy it. Culme-Seymour's tiny Norwegian island is named Smaholmene, and was bought (rumour has it) in exchange for a mink coat, by the author's grandmother, the beautiful and somewhat eccentric, Mor-mor in 1947. By 1949 Mor-mor had designed and had built a boathouse and a two-storey wooden cabin with a low, curling tiled roof, the outside walls painted a rich ox-blood red, with the sash windows and doors picked out in white, all nestling in the basin of a lagoon.

There on the island, Mor-mor (often to be found roaming around entirely naked), her children and, later, her grandchildren, spend their summers, swimming, sailing, picnicking and foraging for food. Here we read about gathering juniper berries and picking wild raspberries for Mor-mor to make into jam for sandwiching homemade cakes together with delicious whipped cream; we read of the cordial made from the tiny wild blueberries that grow above the boathouse; of foraging for wild mushrooms; of collecting gulls' eggs and sea asparagus; of removing large mussels from the clefts of the rocks, to be steamed by Mor-mor in onion, cream and white wine; and of fish pulled wriggling from the sea and cooked minutes later in butter. Tilly Culme-Seymour is a cookery writer by profession, and it shows - her descriptions of the food collected and cooked are intensely pleasurable to picture and to read, and a part of the book that I very much enjoyed.

The earlier sections of the book focus on Mor-mor and Tilly Culme-Seymour's mother or, as Tilly calls her, Mamma.
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By Henk Beentje TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author's grandmother bought a small island in southern Norway in 1947, and it became a summer paradise (with a few warts) for the family - children, grandchildren and now great-grandchilden. The author first stayed there in 1982 and has been going there for most years since, including a hard winter's stay with a friend/lover. The book divides in three: the grandmother's tale; the time when the author and her sisters and brother spent there every summer; and the winter spent there with Paddy. Plus a few final notes, the 'land beyond', about her recent past.

My opinion: it took me a while to get into the story, but I did - and became part of it, dreaming away wistfully about my summers of yore, which merged partly with the story. That is why I call it evocative... the moving part is both the island story with its wistful memories, and the way in which the author gives her feelings and problems. Not heavy-going, but in a straight, bittersweet way. I was transported, to put it rather la-di-da, geographically and rather emotionally as well - I ended the book with tears in my eyes...
I came to this book because I read a rave review (in country life, I think) and am glad I did - this book is a keeper. I also realized, halfway through, that I knew one of the authors' sisters from many years ago! Not that that influenced me (well, a bit) - the book drags you in anyway and you feel you know large parts of the family. Recommended!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Found this book quite hard going but was interesting all the same.
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