Top positive review
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I was totally hooked by Summer At The Lake
on 27 February 2014
Over the years, I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Erica James' novels, my favourite is The Holiday - especially is I read it whilst on holiday in Corfu, where the story is set.
I was really looking forward to reading Summer At The Lake, not least because the weather has been so awful just lately, and I thought it would great to be able to transport myself away to the sunnier climes of Italy.
This novel is 400 pages of pure indulgence, I absolutely loved it. Despite the length, I raced through it, devouring the story which is filled with wonderfully created characters and takes the reader from the dreamy spires of Oxford to the evocative Lake Como in Italy.
Three very unlikely friends meet when Floriana is knocked over by a car. Adam Strong and Esme Silcox rush to help her and it is at that moment that a firm friendship between the three of them is formed. Floriana is an Oxford tour guide, a free spirit, independent, and a little bit quirky. She is also reeling with shock, having just received an invitation to the wedding of one of her oldest and closest friends, Seb. Seb and Floriana lost touch a while ago and it is clear that Floriana feels more than friendship toward him. Esme is in her 80s, a gentle and elegant lady who never married and spends her days listening to the radio with just her faithful cat for company. Adam Strong is a property developer, with a broken heart and welcomes the opportunity to be the knight in shining armour, it may help him to get over his latest failed relationship.
Erica James cleverly weaves the stories of each of the character into the here and now. As these three main characters form their friendship and begin to open up to each other, the reader learns their story too. For me, Esme's story of her time spent in Italy with her father, over sixty years ago was the most engaging and fascinating. It is clear that this elderly spinster has many secrets hidden in her past, and as she tells of how her heart was broken by the only man she ever loved, and the tragedy that followed, the story takes another turn.
Despite loving Esme's story best, I found both Adam and Floriana to be really well developed characters too, with their own stories of disappointment and heartbreak that impact on the people that they have become.
The three friends find themselves travelling together to Italy, so that both Floriana and Esme can face up to things that have happened in the past and learn to move on without so much regret and sorrow. Their seven days in Italy are beautifully written, the sense of the place with the sights, sounds and smells of Lake Como and the surrounding towns and villages is just wonderful, and as their friendship develops, so do the characters.
I was totally hooked by Summer At The Lake, it's the perfect read for either a sunny afternoon in the garden or curled up on the sofa in front of the fire. A real feel-good read, with characters and settings that the reader will really care for, and maybe even fall just a little in love with!