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4.0 out of 5 stars An ageing seductress looking to recapture her youth is not a new idea, but this book presents it with aplomb.
The Lemon Grove, by Helen Walsh, is a story of growing up and growing old. Set on the touristy coastline of Mallorca it sizzles with heat and desire as a middle aged woman is drawn to the youth and recklessness of her stepdaughter’s seventeen year old boyfriend.

For those who find ageing a challenge this book may seem all too believable. The protagonist,...
Published 8 days ago by Zeudy Tigre

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14 of 14 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 4 months ago by Denise4891


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable reading, 23 Mar 2014
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 5 July 2014
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book based on fab reviews for my beach holiday. I was so disappointed with it from start to finish. Basically it is one big yawn!!! I did not warm/like any of the characters. The main story of the mother having an affair with the daughters 17yr old gorgeous boyfriend is very unbelievable and bit naff to be honest. And as for the end, awful!!! I was expecting some kind of Emily Barr like twist or at least a surprise but no. Myself and sister read it at same time and both felt same. Buy something else, honest.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretty pointless and unpleasant characters, 31 May 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
Story of a married couple on holiday in a villa when the husband's daughter (wife's step daughter) and boyfriend come to stay.
The wife appears to be attracted to the boyfriend who is 17 years old.

The only good thing to be said for this book is that is held the reader's interest because (notwithstanding the weaknesses) the plot seemed to be building up to an interesting crescendo. That never happened.

The weakness were - (i) very irritating and unlikeable characters. That isn't in itself a problem if a book has other redeeming features (eg. well written) but there were none here. (ii) poor and very repetitive writing - certain words eg. "crones" and "rinsed" seemed to appear with a higher frequency than required and was distracting (iii) a very weak ending that was almost inexplicable and (iv) a feeling at the end of the book that you had no idea what the point of it was - there was no clear message or point to it. Not that every book needs message - if for example it's great page turning read - but that wasn't this book. There were lots of plot points and behaviour choices of characters that were beyond highly implausible.

In addition (but this is personal to me) I found the attitude to women in this book appalling. Older women are constantly referred to as "crones" - a very derogatory and outdated word; there was repeated description of older women's bodies in a very nasty way. The whole thing was deeply unpleasant and surprising that it was written by a woman frankly.

It is also short and made to look longer/padded out by large type. Never a good sign.

Reading this was a waste of time; I would recommend it only if you want to be very irritated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming, 1 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
An English family, complete with a private school girl, spend the summer vacation in Spain. If this sounds like "rich, white people problems", it pretty much is (except for the husband's secret, which I quickly identified).

Jen covets her stepdaughter's boyfriend. When they engage in physical activity, is it real...or just a figment of Jen's imagination? I think the latter, though there could be arguments either way, and because this is "literary fiction", there may not be a clear answer.

The seaside Spanish setting is lovely, but the boring characters plod along. An underwhelming novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An ageing seductress looking to recapture her youth is not a new idea, but this book presents it with aplomb., 16 July 2014
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
The Lemon Grove, by Helen Walsh, is a story of growing up and growing old. Set on the touristy coastline of Mallorca it sizzles with heat and desire as a middle aged woman is drawn to the youth and recklessness of her stepdaughter’s seventeen year old boyfriend.

For those who find ageing a challenge this book may seem all too believable. The protagonist, Jenn, appears to have a happy marriage and a good relationship with her husband. It is only when their daughter’s boyfriend arrives on the scene that she starts to find fault, particularly with her husband’s looks. She bemoans her own ageing body, struggling to accept that her beautiful stepdaughter now inhabits the body of a young woman. When the boyfriend starts to pay Jenn attention she allows the developing undercurrent of her cravings to draw them into actions that she knows to be wrong.

With such a plot line I was pleasantly surprised to find how well written the book was. The author does not shy away from detail, but her descriptions add to the atmosphere she is creating rather than descending into mere titillation. With clever use of location, weather and the varied inhabitants of the small, holiday towns that they visit, she brings to the boil the confusion of feelings between parents, daughter and lovers. The reader is drawn in, an observer in a tale that is never going to end well.

I was impressed with the way the author showed how each of the characters could only see events through their own eyes, worrying about details that others barely noticed. The jealousy of the mother when she realises how her stepdaughter has supplanted her in the eyes of men simmers beneath the surface. She wishes to be made to feel desirable, yet herself craves the tautness of youth over the older man who still appreciates what she has to offer.

The plot moves along at a pleasing pace with steamy encounters and moments of stepping back to consider the precipice on which the various relationships balance. The character development is thought provoking, the denouement satisfying right up until the last page. I suspect that I like my endings to be a little tidier.

This is a book that would be perfect to read when on holiday or when dreaming of a holiday, although whether it would tempt or warn a reader is an interesting consideration. I wonder how many young women may be drawn to look at older women in a new light having considered this tale. An ageing seductress looking to recapture her youth is not a new idea, but this book presents it with aplomb.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Tinder Press.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brief sexual frisson creates a mild middle-class crisis in Mallorca, 25 Jan 2014
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Jenn and Greg have a comfortable life: they holiday regularly in a lovely villa in Mallorca, Greg's 15 year old daughter Emma goes to private school, and mixes with her pony-mad gymkhana friends. Into this settled ease comes Nate, Emma's 17 year old boyfriend: beautiful, less than middle class, and mildly disruptive...

The trope of the interloper who disrupts family dynamics is replayed here. Jenn's obsession with Nate is conveyed well, and is as much a desire for her lost youth as it is for this man-boy. Less convincing and coherent are Nate's feelings which are only sketched in.

Walsh introduces class issues but they don't seem to go anywhere: Jenn scathingly dismisses the trustafarian hippy kids but seems unaware of quite how privileged her own lifestyle is, with her Amex card and her academic husband, and their dismissal of Nate's less than BBC accent.

The heat and heated atmosphere of a few days is conveyed well, and Walsh writes with elegance. But, ultimately, this tidies everything away for a neat and cosy ending, and middle class comfort remains undisturbed.

This is a short and light holiday or switch-off read, and is a far safer book than I expected from the blurb - sexual obsession has a brief moment of power but ultimately this is all about maintaining the status quo.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sizzler of a novel., 27 Feb 2014
By 
Ismay1012 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
This novel is set on the holiday island of Majorca during one scorching hot summer when Jenn and her husband Greg are enjoying their holiday at the Villa Anna, which nestles on the hillside in their favourite and most well loved spot on the island. They have a week alone at the beginning of their annual pilgrimage to the island and enjoy their time together, awaiting the arrival of their fifteen-year-old daughter and her new boyfriend, seventeen-year-old Nathan, who will be joining them for the last week of their holiday. A perfect ending to their family holiday.

When the happy couple arrive, there is awkwardness within the family. Nathan appears to be more adult than boy; Greg has trouble accepting his daughter’s relationship with Nathan. She is after all his little girl. Or is she? For Jenn, her stepdaughter’s beau fascinating. He seems mature beyond his years. A mutual attraction flares between Jenn and Nathan and she feels powerless to resist or hold back her desires, her raw lust for his body, finally giving in and convincing herself she can and must succumb to his advances. So they become guilty lovers, seizing every opportunity to be with each other.

The novel sizzles with sun, sea, sand and illicit sex, until an accident and it’s consequences threaten Jenn in the most raw and hurtful way. Secrets are exposed, passions explode and the consequences of the holiday take on an aura of sinister destructiveness.

This is a powerful, well-written novel that I really enjoyed. The ending was shocking but just perfect for this novel. I loved it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars More sour than sweet...(spoiler alert), 19 July 2014
By 
S. Jones "S Jones" (Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Paperback)
Had read a lot of hype about this book before reading it, one comment described it as 'this year's Beautiful Ruins' however I'm afraid it came nowhere near that standard for me. I liked the writing style and found the book very pacy; it kept me wanting to read on. There were also scenes that were very uncomfortable to read such as the confrontation between Emma and Jenn on the disastrous date night and I really did think Helen Walsh handled the relationship between Emma and Jenn well. However, I found the main subject very tawdry and I found I had little sympathy for Jenn's midlife crisis. I cannot imagine ever sleeping with my daughter's boyfriend, no matter how old and saggy I felt and what underlying issues I had, it's just wrong on every level. Maybe I'm naive but I also thought that assuming it is the norm for a 15 year old girl to take her 17 year old boyfriend on holiday is a bit shocking in itself. I will however try another of Helen Walsh's books on the basis of positive reviews and because I liked her writing style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect escapism!, 17 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Kindle Edition)
Was thoroughly hooked from the beginning. Full of colour, tastes, smells, and sights that take you on a journey without leaving home. Intrigue and excitement with the added complicated boy obsession. At times her constant pining was a touch annoying. Mind you sometimes love obsessions can do strange things to the best of us!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars '...they would be opening their door, and their holiday, to a stranger...', 4 Jun 2014
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lemon Grove (Hardcover)
Jenn and husband Greg have already spent a week on holiday at Villa Ana near Deia in Mallorca, a place they've visited often, a blissful location nestled amongst lemon groves. They are staying a further week, with Greg's fifteen-year-old daughter Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, flying out and joining them. Having pleaded with Jenn to intervene with Greg and persuade him, Emma now has her boyfriend Nathan, 17, accompanying her. Jenn expects the atmosphere and dynamic to change when they both arrive, and it does; Nathan's presence affects all three of the family members.

'...they would be opening their door, and their holiday, to a stranger - and no matter how much she tries to tell herself she's done a good thing, Jenn simply cannot shake off her misgivings.'

This story picks you up and takes you away, transporting you to sunnier climes and allowing you to be an observer as a woman grapples with the temptations of youth and desire, the quandaries of being a stepmother, with ageing and the joys and irritations of a long-term relationship, these latter suddenly being brought sharply into focus for Jenn.

I found the relationship between Jenn and Emma intriguing. We know that Emma and Jenn have shared closeness in the past, but things can sometimes be strained between them, never enjoying the same bond as Emma and her father. It's quite telling when we read that Emma only refers to Jenn as Mum now 'when she wanted something.' And it's hard to see this little girl become a woman, aspects of her so adult, so full-formed, yet sometimes there are reminders that she is not yet an adult. Jenn is torn between her role as a mother, as a wife, and her desire and thrill at being thought so desirable by Nathan, so that 'she is neither here, not there.' Nathan is young, confident, physically attractive, and Jenn experiences longings for him that she cannot fight, not when they are reciprocated, and illicit sexual encounters between the pair ensue. As well as passion and gratification, she experiences conflicting emotions; guilt, envy, and bewilderment at how she can have acted as she has.

I didn't find any of the main four characters overly endearing, indeed they are all flawed, but if anything this made it more interesting observing them and their weaknesses and mistakes. I was excited and anxious as to whether Jenn and Nathan would be caught in the act. I found this a fairly quick read, I was drawn in, wondering what would happen, and what the consequences would be. I could never quite picture Jenn, or decide exactly what she looked like, in my mind, the same for Greg. I don't know if this was deliberate or my failing. I've never been to Mallorca but Helen Walsh conveys the setting, sights and atmosphere of the place where the family stay so that you can imagine this backdrop to these events, the sea, the coves, the restaurants, all really nicely evoked. This sun drenched setting almost seems to add to the temptation for Jenn to abandon her restraint and duty, and follow her desires; the climate and the tension both sizzle at times.

I very much liked the note on which the story ended; often I like stories that are all sewn up but here, the way it was left, with both the characters and the reader on a precipice, was exquisite. It is perfect for reading on a hot summer holiday, but it's just as interesting to read wherever you are; the descriptions transport you away and the exploration of human fallibility, desire, temptation and regret is well done and makes for compulsive reading.
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