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The Last Summer [Hardcover]

Judith Kinghorn
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Feb 2012

A sweepingly epic and gloriously intimate commercial debut - a beautiful and haunting story of lost innocence and a powerful, enduring love.

Clarissa is almost seventeen when the spell of her childhood is broken. It is 1914, the beginning of a blissful, golden summer - and the end of an era. Deyning Park is in its heyday, the large country house filled with the laughter and excitement of privileged youth preparing for a weekend party. When Clarissa meets Tom Cuthbert, home from university and staying with his mother, the housekeeper, she is dazzled. Tom is handsome and enigmatic; he is also an outsider. Ambitious, clever, his sights set on a career in law, Tom is an acute observer, and a man who knows what he wants. For now, that is Clarissa.

As Tom and Clarissa's friendship deepens, the wider landscape of political life around them is changing, and another story unfolds: they are not the only people in love. Soon the world - and all that they know - is rocked by a war that changes their lives for ever.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (2 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755385977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755385973
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 486,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judith Kinghorn was born in Northumberland and is a graduate in English and History of Art. Judith's debut novel THE LAST SUMMER was chosen by Lovereading UK as MEGA DEBUT and profiled in The Bookseller magazine's 'Ones To Watch'. Her novels are published worldwide and have been translated to French, German, Spanish and Italian. She lives with her husband and children in Hampshire.

Follow Judith on Twitter: @judithkinghorn
Follow Judith on Facebook: writerjudithkinghorn
For more, please visit Judith's website at

Product Description


'An enchanting story of love and war, and the years beyond' (Penny Vincenzi)

A sumptuous, absorbing tale of love in time of war. Judith Kinghorn's novel brilliantly illuminates the experiences of a generation of blighted youth (Rachel Hore)

'[An] enchanting debut of Rachel Hore/Downton Abbey ilk, big storytelling stuff of social and political change spanning the First World War and beyond. It's a glorious read, highly recommended' (Sarah Broadhurst, Bookseller)

'Judith Kinghorn has beautifully captured the thoughts and feelings of a particular group in a lost generation. From an historical perspective, Kinghorn has clearly done her research which is illustrated in the small details that capture the war and post-war periods, making The Last Summer entirely believable and often shocking... Despite the themes of loss, grief and change, The Last Summer is above all a wonderful and heartbreaking love story... Highly recommended!' (One More Page blog)

'Impeccably written and well researched this is an atmospheric and haunting read. It takes the reader from languorous summer days by the lake on a country estate to the horror of the trenches with equal aplomb... Judith Kinghorn skilfully navigates our journey through love and loss... This is the perfect balance of romance and grit by a great new writer. Don't miss it!' (The Riddle of Writing blog)

Book Description

A sweeping debut, perfect for reading groups and fans of Kate Morton and Downton Abbey

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, heart-warming addictive read 24 Jan 2012
By J. Rees
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this book. Judith Kinghorn's tells the moving and poignant story of inquisitive and endearing Clarissa, poised to become a woman and inherit the future her parents have dreamt for her. But then, WW1 is declared and suddenly, the world order she thinks she'll inherit has gone forever. This is a brilliantly written moving love story set against the epic backdrop of war and Clarissa's love of her family home Deyning Park. Brought to life with wonderful little details and a thwarted romance that will set your heart pounding, the story sweeps you up and transports you back in time. Lovers of Sebastian Faulk's 'Birdsong', Brideshead Revisited or Downton Abbey will get another 'hit' here. Buy this book for your Mum and your sister, then curl up under a duvet with a box of tissues and read your own. 'The Last Summer' deserves to be a massive hit.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking story, beautifully told... 15 Sep 2012
If you're considering buying The Last Summer, there's a good chance you'll already have an idea of the (relatively) familiar setting and the kind of book it is. To be honest, the only reason I ever read reviews like this is if I'm undecided on purchasing the book, or have just finished it and am interested in what others thought. If you fall into the former category, then let me first off wholeheartedly recommend you take the plunge and buy it. As to why - well, here are some of the elements which, for me, made it thoroughly enjoyable.

The love story that unfolds between Clarissa Granville and Tom Cuthbert is as tempestuous and engrossing a tale as you could wish to lose yourself in and, as such, is beset by appropriately daunting obstacles. The story twist and turns, just as you'd expect, and I enjoyed guessing the odd point that I thought I'd seen being flagged up ("is that a gun on the wall, Mr Chekov?") though most of these came as a pleasing surprise and the last of all elicited a proper "No!" from me.

Obviously World War One has been mined countless times as material for stories like The Last Summer, but there were details in this that I had either never heard of - such as the blue notes Clarissa encounters while working as a nurse - or had simply never considered, like the developing atmosphere on the streets as news of the long-awaited armistice broke.

There is some really beautiful writing here, lyrical and intelligent, often capturing moments of emotional complexity. A passage describing unexpected reactions to the news of yet more men killed at war, from a populace already swamped in grief and running out of ways to absorb it was, to me, particularly striking and effective.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It! 28 Jan 2013
By Dot
I know that I am extremely late to the party for this book but I completely fell in love with it. Clarissa and Tom's story will stay with me forever.
I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone else so I shall be careful what I say but I really want to emphasise just how wonderful the story is that Judith Kinghorn has written.
Clarissa and Tom's story begins in the summer of 1914. They come from very different worlds; Clarissa has grown up at Deyning Park surrounded by wealth and luxury whereas Tom is the son of the housekeeper. Although their lives are very different, their connection is instant, a connections they will never lose.
Judith Kinghorn brilliantly captures the change taking place at the time. The world is at war, men are fighting alongside each other; it doesn't matter where you came from, just which side you're on. Clarissa and Tom are caught up in these changes. Clarissa's mother forbids her relationship with Tom; however much she can see a future, Clarissa will not disobey her mother and this leads to devastating consequences. Clarissa is very young and this leads her to make so many mistakes. She comes from a world where you behave in a certain way and you marry certain people. There were so many times when I could see her going down the wrong path out of her sense of duty and I just wanted to drag her back!
The Last Summer explores the aftermath of war, the way it changed society, the way men were damaged both physically and mentally. Women gained a lot of independence during the war, many worked for the first time and this caused problems during peace time.
I did fall in love with Tom Cuthbert. He is besotted with Clarissa and is determined to make something of himself.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerizing story 18 Feb 2013
I loved this book, so much so that I had to slow myself down when reading it and try to make it last. I could have easily read it in one sitting but wanted to savour it instead.
The Last Summer begins in England on the cusp of World War One, or as it is often referred to The Great War but as Judith Kinghorn shows us this war was far from great for those involved.

The novel focuses on the protagonist Clarissa and the huge changes she is forced to undergo during the war. Her life in her home at Deyning will be changed forever as a result. The descriptions of Deyning are vivid, poetic and beautiful to read. I could easily visualise Clarissa's surroundings and understood the importance of place to her.

The love affair that unfolds between Clarissa and Tom is haunting, frustrating and entirely convincing. Towards the end they discover something about their mutual past that made me exclaim out loud. I won't spoil it here but this is a novel that will elict a wide range of emotions from the reader.

I did not want this book to end and can happily recommend it to all readers who enjoy the detailed development of a character drawn during a very interesting and frightening time in England's history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a page turner and enjoyable
Published 8 days ago by Mrs. Sheila Buchanan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Loved this book, couldnt put it down once I started it.
Published 12 days ago by KJM
5.0 out of 5 stars Booktrail set in England
Allow me to take you on a tour of Deyning Park -the world of Judith Kinghorn’s ‘The Last Summer’ – to the world of Clarissa and Tom, to sumptuous parties against the backdrop of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by thebooktrailer
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty but not captivating
The Last Summer is a prettily written romance set during WWI, following Clarissa, a young lady who’s fallen for a servant’s son, who is obviously of a status far below her family’s... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gossamerrolo
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for Judith
I don't write book reviews. If I like a book I will happily promote it on Twitter, otherwise I keep my counsel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dragonfly
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't give up early on this one
I love it when you take a gamble on a random book and it pays off. This was a "suggestion for you" courtesy of Amazon and it had good reviews. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Lynette
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I did enjoy following the hit and miss relationship of the two main characters although on time a little unreal. Read more
Published 6 months ago by D. ashworth
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read about a turbulent time in history and enduring love
I enjoyed this romantic story which also deals with the horror of the great war and the impact on those who fought and for those at home. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jane
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely
Thank you to Judith for kindly sending me a copy of her historical romance novel. For a debut, it's quite a lot to take in; from themes of love, family, heartbreak, decisions, war... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Emma Louise
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed this book and have ordered her other novel
Good read, better than I had expected I have bought her other novel as it is great to find a new writer to try.
Published 7 months ago by Lucy Laycock
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