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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The novel is a great holiday read
Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove is an absorbing tale of desire and passion amongst the exotic setting of Deia in Mallorca. Jenn is on holiday with husband Gregg and his daughter Emma, but their ritual of holidaying at Deia every year with just the three of them is about to be ruined when Emma insists that her new boyfriend Nathan must join them. Jenn and Gregg have...
Published 3 months ago by Snazzy

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable reading
Helen Walsh is an author who certainly doesn't shy away from difficult subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous novels, Once Upon A Time in England and, in particular, Go To Sleep, but unfortunately this one didn't engage me in quite the same way.

Jenn is enjoying her annual holiday in Spain with her nice but rather dull husband Greg. They're awaiting the...
Published 9 months ago by Denise4891


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable reading, 23 Mar 2014
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
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Helen Walsh is an author who certainly doesn't shy away from difficult subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous novels, Once Upon A Time in England and, in particular, Go To Sleep, but unfortunately this one didn't engage me in quite the same way.

Jenn is enjoying her annual holiday in Spain with her nice but rather dull husband Greg. They're awaiting the arrival of their 15 year old daughter (actually Jenn's stepdaughter) Emma and her new boyfriend Nathan. When the young couple arrive Jenn is immediately overwhelmed by her strong feelings for Nathan, and from then on we just know it's not going to end well!

What follows makes for uncomfortable reading at times as Jenn embarks journey of sexual discovery with her young and very eager new lover. It's pretty graphic, but I can't say I found it particularly sexy. I think in Walsh's previous novels I've found something in the characters with which I could identify, or at least understand. My difficulty here was that I didn't like any of them (not that that's essential in a novel) and just found their actions frustrating and annoying.

I did wonder whether I would have enjoyed the book more if I'd read it over a hot summer holiday (rather than a damp March commute) - the steamy, oppressive atmosphere is certainly well conveyed. Overall a disappointment then, but based on her back catalogue this slight blip certainly won't deter me from reading more from this author in future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Women's literary fiction meets bonkbuster, 30 July 2014
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
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This is a tough review to write! I loved this book but at the same time it annoyed me no end. It's part women's literary fiction, part bonkbuster. I've read the reviews in the upmarket newspapers and no, it's not the literary masterpiece they say it is. It has a female protagonist who is utterly convincing, and a male who is even less real than Christian Gray. Arrgghh!!!

Firstly what I liked: The descriptions of Mallorca, its restaurants, its beaches, its countryside, its holiday villas. They are utterly convincing, compelling, beautiful. I was there, by the pool, I was sweltering in the car, I was wondering through the market and the monastry.

I also thought Jenn was brilliantly drawn. I believed in her and her relationship with her nice, but dull husband. She drove me mad but she made me laugh - at least for the first three quarters of the book.

What I didn't like: Nathan, the 17 year old boyfriend of Jenn's stepdaughter. For most of the book he behaved like somebody far, far older. And if he's just 17, surely Jenn should be regarding him as a child. He is far too sexually confident and accomplished for someone his age, did not believe in him, or in their 'relationship' for a single nanosecond. Didn't Jenn have a duty of care towards him? She showed not one jot of concern towards him.

Ditto her 'relationship' with her stepdaughter. Although some aspects, such as the jealousy and irritation, felt convincing, I can't believe she could have raised this girl from a baby and been so uncaring.

Three quarters of the way through the book, all the characters start behaving differently. It's really annoying!

What I also didn't like was the stupid lie Jenn tells in order to bring the book to its conclusion, which would have been clever if the lie were necessary in the first place. It wasn't. As soon as I read it I thought: Why did she say that? and realised it must be a plot contrivance. So clunky!

I don't know. Parts were five star, parts were one star. So I'm giving it three. It annoyed and entertained me in equal measures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another over-hyped book, 24 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
Another over-hyped book I have seen everywhere. But the cover was enticing and it's a genuinely intriguing and compelling idea. (Bored house-wife has affair with step-daughter's boyfriend on holiday.) The problem was that I found the characters quite flat and the relationships between the main characters not particularly developed (especially between Jen and daughter Emma). And for a book about an illicit affair - the sexual tension between Jen and Nathan didn't sizzle.
The Lemon Grove is pitched as literary fiction but quality writing isn't just about beautiful description. I felt as if the relationship between Ana and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey was more rounded (and that's saying something). The author writes very well about Majorca - you really could almost feel yourself among the lemon groves, but this is no Notes on a Scandal or Lolita.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful plotless crap, 28 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
Awful! Story line was weaker than a twig on a micro bush....which leads me on to the fact that the whole story seemed to pivot on poor unbelievable plot, unpleasant unlikely characters and a bit of soft badly written porn! No wonder they were promoting it through Toni and guy salons. I bought it because daunts books recommended it and the cover was nice...which just goes to show, NEVER judge a book by its cover!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Give it a miss, 22 July 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
I was seduced into buying this book by the wonderful cover picture, the title and the synopsis. Unfortunately, although I stuck with it, I was very disappointed. I didn't particularly like any of the characters. I didn't feel it was well-written; it didn't flow all that well and at times I was rather confused - not knowing how many days had passed, or when one day had ended and another had begun. I thought "he" and "she" were a bit over-used, and occasionally I was left wondering who exactly the author was talking about. Did not like the language used - it seemed to come from nowhere (pardon the pun); none of the characters really swore so couldn't imagine why the author had decided to include such graphic words. Thought the whole thing was a bit unbelievable. However, I did like the very end. Such a pity the rest of the book wasn't as good as the final three pages.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not lemonade..., 13 April 2014
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. Walsh's beautifully evocative descriptions of Mallorca immersed me in the sights, sounds, scents and flavours of a Mediterranean holiday. The relationships were exquisitely painful, each encounter slicing and drawing blood like a sharp knife. The unpredictable undercurrents of danger were ever present and perfectly played to maximum effect. I should have loved it, but the end. I just didn't like the characters enough to care what happened to any of them. Their deceit (and self deception) and their selfishness - without any real redeeming features- just left me cold. To really love a book, I need some level of emotional engagement with key characters,; I didn't have that so the book didn't quite do it for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitous, crude and flimsy - very disappointing, 26 Oct 2014
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
If I had to sum The Lemon Grove up in a word, that word would be ‘gratuitous’. I bought this because it was included on a list of recommended summer reads but I don’t think I’d have particularly enjoyed it even had I read it during sunnier months. It’s crude, unpleasant to read, and feels very much like an author seeking headlines in the book sections by picking a controversial topic.

The events of the novel take place over a single week in a town on a Spanish island and are told from the point of view of Jenn, who is holidaying with her husband Greg. They seem to be reluctantly (at least on Jenn’s part) expecting the arrival of their daughter and her boyfriend, and even early on there are clear hints at tension in the family and the marriage. When Emma and Nathan arrive, Jenn’s fears that her peaceful retreat will be disrupted become realised, but not in the way she’d expected. She finds herself drawn to her daughter’s boyfriend and spends the week struggling to keep her desire in check.

The blurb about The Lemon Grove references “the conflicting pulls of resistance and release” and describes it as “an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth” and an “unstoppably sexy and unputdownable novel from a brilliant observer of the human condition”. These grand statements vastly overestimate the skill and depth of the novel. I think primarily the problem is that it’s not believable: it’s rushed and unsophisticated, resulting in a premise that feels flimsy and characters that aren’t clearly drawn.

Jenn and Greg’s marriage is initially painted as quite blissful, so her ridiculously quick fall into infidelity doesn’t ring true and nor does her subsequent disdain for Greg. Jenn’s relationship with Emma is frustratingly inconsistent – one minute it seems it’s always been fraught and troubled; the next Jenn is fondly recalling tender moments in both the distant and recent past. Nathan is two-dimensional and not really sympathetically presented at all, so Jenn’s immediate attraction to him isn’t anchored in anything in the text and nor is her growing obsession with him. There’s not a single character to root for or even care about, and that makes it hard to care about the novel as a whole.

Most of the narrative feels like an attempt to get to the next sex scene as quickly as possible – to be honest, much of what’s assumed about Fifty Shades of Grey is far more applicable to The Lemon Grove. And those scenes are pretty unpleasant to read – fairly explicit and written in the crudest language. Language that again doesn’t resonate with Jenn as she’s presented the rest of the time. There’s an attempt at some suspense and at tying the erotic plot into something a little deeper (as the blurb says, “the events of the next few days have the potential to put lives in jeopardy”) but it feels contrived and weak – just several flimsy plotlines clumsily woven together in order to give the story an ending.

I’m someone who’ll generally give anything a try when it comes to reading, and enjoy light-hearted or chick-lit reads from time to time. But this kind of novel, I really dislike: the kind that dresses itself up as literary or intellectual, as some kind of social commentary, when really it’s just hoping to trade on sex. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most un-sexy things I’ve ever read, so it doesn’t even do that bit well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The novel is a great holiday read, 30 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove is an absorbing tale of desire and passion amongst the exotic setting of Deia in Mallorca. Jenn is on holiday with husband Gregg and his daughter Emma, but their ritual of holidaying at Deia every year with just the three of them is about to be ruined when Emma insists that her new boyfriend Nathan must join them. Jenn and Gregg have never met Nathan before, but as soon as Jenn sets eyes on him she feels a spark and attraction there that she feels is reciprocated. Set over the course of a week, the novel follows Jenn’s relationship with Nathan as it grows dangerously sexual, and her changing connection with her husband and step-daughter.

The novel is a great holiday read, mixing beautiful scenery with sexual tension at every turn. Though the subject matter is quite serious, the story is nevertheless really interesting and atmospheric, and made me dream of sunbathing on a Spanish island somewhere.

The theme of age is really prevalent throughout the novel. Jenn is preoccupied with her aging body and continuously compares herself to Emma, whilst the fact that Nathan is so young makes Jenn feel that the affair is more her fault than his, even though it takes two people to have an affair and Nathan is the one who, towards the beginning of the novel, initiates intimacy between them.

There are some really graphic scenes in the novel which serve to further emphasise the sordid relationship between Jenn and Nathan. Although Jenn feels lust and longing towards Nathan and wants to be around him, most of the time she just feels unhappy, guilty and disgusted with herself. Their sex scenes often seem rushed, enveloped in the seediness of an affair with her step-daughter’s boyfriend.

Jenn is a tricky character to work out. She seems to really love Emma and wants what is best for her, as she has raised her from a young age, but also envies her. Her husband Gregg seems a really nice man but can seem irritatingly self-important. I felt sorry for Jenn at times but overall felt that she was very naive and rash; she must have realised that she couldn’t get away with sleeping with Nathan but she does it anyway, and you wonder how much she can really care about her family if she repeatedly breaches their trust in this way.

Walsh writes really well, and her description of the wealthy, exotic holiday destination jumps off the page. The Lemon Grove has many other themes that can be examined but I don’t want to reveal too much to those who haven’t read it.
I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a beach read with more substance, which makes you think a little and consider the unrelentless pull of youth.

** For more book reviews, check out my blog: http://snazzybooks.wordpress.com **
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated!, 21 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
I bought this book because of all the hype I'd seen on social media about it - there you go, the power of Twitter! It wasn't something I'd normally choose but I gave it a go.

It was all just a bit meh if I'm honest. Jenn's not looking forward to her step-daughter arriving with her boyfriend, Greg's secretive over his constant phone calls and can't see what's happening right in front of him, Emma's just a sulky spoilt brat and Nathan's just a typical 17 year old putting it about where he can. What's to like about these characters, anything...? No, nothing!

I can see why it's been so popular over the past few months but it just didn't sit well with me at all, the age difference was just inappropriate and gross if I'm honest. I'm no prude, I've read the 50 Shades Trilogy but the sex scenes were just wrong.

There's some stunning descriptions of Mallorca, beautiful actually, and the writing demonstrates real knowledge and articulation but it's almost too high brow for the book's plot if that makes sense, it's posh mummy soft porn. It's a sexy book, but I actually preferred 50 Shades, I found that to be more believable.

I found more things I didn't like than I did; Nathan, as a 17 year old, comes across as extremely sexually experienced for someone of his age. I mean, come on, who lets there 15 year old daughter bring their 17 year old boyfriend on holiday? Not something I would have been allowed to do, or would have let my 15 year old.

However, I did like the ending, I thought it was actually the best bit and not just because it was the end. It's left on a bit of cliffhanger and I'm pretty sure I've come to the right conclusion. It's one of those endings where you need to discuss with someone else to see if they agreed.

Overall, it's a quick read, perfect for the the summer but on the whole a bit too unbelievable for me to give a crap.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lemon Grove, 15 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
This book is tense with a capital 'T', Helen Walsh begins building the tension from the very beginning and simply does not let up. The front cover of this book is stunning but don't be fooled by the blurb; it could come across as a bit of a beach romp but it is far more complex than your average holiday bonk buster.
Jenn and Greg holiday each year on the beautiful west coast of Mallorca, this year is going to be different as Jenn's fifteen year old step-daughter is bringing along her new boyfriend, 17 year old Nathan. Emma and Nathan's arrival awakens several different feelings in Jenn; a resentment of Greg; a sadness over what life could have been, tensions and deep-rooted issues with her step-daughter and more importantly, a deep desire for Nathan which she is unable to ignore.
The tension between Jenn and Nathan is immediately palpable. Helen Walsh is so good at building up the little details, a glance here, a touch on the arm there; it all builds up to several very passionate encounters. The author is quite explicit in her descriptions of Jenn and Nathan, she shows the carnal need of both of them but then we learn of Jenn's feelings about it; how she feels about being the older woman; how she views her body and these new feelings that have possessed her.
The Lemon Grove can be quite an uncomfortable read at times but I don't think Helen Walsh had any intention of putting her readers at ease. I can't say that I particularly liked any of the characters; they all seemed incredibly selfish in their own ways.
This is the first book that I have read by Helen Walsh, I found it riveting and would highly recommend The Lemon Grove.
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The Lemon Grove
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
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