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Summer of '76 by [Ashdown, Isabel]
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Summer of '76 Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Length: 321 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"A fabulous coming-of-age novel that's saturated in '70s nostalgia." - Glamour magazine

"Isabel Ashdown is adept at portraying the bickering normalcy of ordinary family life ... [she] effortlessly transports you back to the seventies a world of Abba, flares, punk and David Bowie." - Press Association

"Isabel Ashdown writes with an incredibly perceptive style, her characters are well-rounded- at times amusing and at times intense...Just when you think you know what is going to happen, Ashdown subverts your expectations. The novel's denouement is a compelling whodunit, with twists and turns to grip until the very end, making Summer of '76 a great book for summer holiday reading." - We Love This Book

"Isabel Ashdown handles big themes and period details with heart." - The Simple Things Magazine

"A thought-provoking novel, funny as well as moving, and extremely difficult to put down. Isabel Ashdown writes with clarity and grace." - Jane Rusbridge, author of Rook and The Devil's Music

"Summer of '76 did not disappoint. Evocative of that hot, dry summer ... book groups will have a lot to discuss." - NewBooks Magazine

"Ashdown always manages to capture a real sense of Britain's past without resorting to rose-tinted glasses." - -- Bella Magazine

"Ashdown has her finger on the pulse of adolescent/adult relationships" - --The Book Bag

Ashdown always manages to capture a real sense of Britain's past without resorting to rose-tinted glasses. -- Bella Magazine

About the Author

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. She is the author of four novels and winner of The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition. Her debut, Glasshopper, was named as one of the best books of 2009 by both The Observer and the London Evening Standard. In 2014 Isabel was Writer in Residence at the University of Brighton, where she now continues to teach on their Creative Writing MA.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1111 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Myriad Editions (4 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CW0G90Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,395 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 July 2013
Format: Paperback
I remember that summer of 1976, I was 10-years-old and it seemed as though summer was going to last forever, never before had we experienced weeks and weeks of baking sunshine, water shortages and cracks in the tarmac. It seemed like a whole new world, and even though we've had hotter weather in the years since, that first long hot summer will always be remembered.

The three page long prologue takes place a few years before the Summer of 76 - New Year's Eve, 1971 at a party on the Isle of Wight. Although this short snapshot does not go in to great detail, the reader quickly understands what is happening.
Fast foward to the Summer of 76 and Luke Wolff is seventeen, finishing his exams and looking forward to starting college in Brighton after the summer. He and his four-year-old sister Kitty live with their parents on the Isle of Wight. They are a pretty ordinary family; Dad's a teacher, Mum stays at home to look after Kitty. Luke has a best friend Martin - who people seem to think is a bit weird. Luke fancies Samantha, who is dating his ex-best friend Len. The weather is hot, hot, hot and when Luke lands a job at the local holiday park he's sorted - OK it's only cleaning chalets, but he gets to work alongside Samantha and can use the swimming pool whenever he likes.

The heat begins to make people behave strangely. Luke's Mum and Dad seem to be arguing a lot these days - something about the parties that their friends hold every so often. Dad's mate Simon seems to be the cause of some of this tension. Is it because he encourages Dad to stop out late on drinking sessions, or is there something else?

Isabel Ashdown has produced an extraordinary story from ordinary characters who live in an ordinary town and on the face of it, live pretty ordinary lives.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Isabel Ashdown just gets better and better. In this novel, she captures the intensity of that extremely hot summer and combines it with skilled descriptions of the island setting. I had a couple of holidays on the Isle of Wight as a teenager in the 70s, and reading this book took me right back to that time and place. The novel is packed with evocative period detail. The teenage protagonist, Luke, is extremely well-drawn and convincing. We empathise with his concerns, from his anxieties about impressing 'Sexy Sam', his concern about his friend Martin and his deeper anxieties about his parents and what they've been getting up to at parties that have become the topic of hushed gossip around the island. Although the events in the story are shown through Luke's eyes, we come away from the novel with a good sense of the dramas and anxieties that affect his parents, too. Isabel Ashdown has a knack for creating secondary characters who are as fully-rounded as the central character, even though we only see them through the central character's eyes. Although I really felt for Luke and Martin, I also felt for Luke's parents, especially after the twist in the story is revealed at the end. I loved this book, and was particularly lucky to have read it in the middle of a heatwave!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Summer of '76 follows a few months in the life of 17 (nearly 18) year old Luke Wolff. It is his last summer on the Isle of Wight before he leaves for college on the mainland and we follow Luke and the ups and downs that befall him and his family and friends.

I enjoyed this novel, finishing it in 2 days. It is not heavy reading, there are no major plot twists or surprises but what you get it a gently told story of life with the additional aspect of the "McKee's parties" and how the knowledge of these much gossiped about but little known parties make it out into wider island life. Unlike many of the negative reviews I liked the characters and found them perfectly believable. The big reveals towards the end are not particularly spectacular but neither are they exactly what you think either - the secrets that are being kept and that you know or think you have guessed may not be quite what you expected.

Overall this was a well written (in my opinion), gentle novel which tells of a moment in time in a young man's life. I would certainly read other novels by this author and intend to read Hurry Up and Wait next. I do have memories of the mid 70's and many of the things mentioned in passing in Summer of '76 made me smile (clothes horse den anyone?) however 1986 was more my era of being a young teenager and all the horrors that went with that!

Reaching the end, I was not left with the "wow" feeling you get after reading a particularly wonderful book, but nevertheless I thought it was a very good book and refreshingly different from the usual thrillers I read.

One warning though. This novel is written in the present tense which I understand can grate on some people. Once I got used to it, I had no problem but there are those who will find this off-putting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Summer of `76? I remember that summer! The Diana character even reminded me of one of the local mums, too. Did we really eat such unhealthy food and gulp down so much home-made wine?!
The major players here are Luke, who's off to Brighton Poly in September, and Martin, his best mate, whose dad has a few anger management issues.
Being '76, punk pops its head round the door. But as this novel is set on the Isle of Wight, it doesn't appear to have crossed the water yet. Cue Tom, the posh lad from next door, home from London during the summer, thumbing his nose at his capitalist parents.
In a way this New Wave insinuates itself in quite a subtle way, defying categorisation. Tom is suitably impressed when Luke's mum acknowledges that there are always new things happening, and that she isn't fighting to hang on to the old ways.
Although this is set in the seventies, naturally there are many issues relevant to current times: young people reach eighteen and feel the need to move on. This makes this feel like a rite-of-passage novel. Although it's Luke who is leaving the island, I felt that Martin was the one who needed to make that big break and have a chance to find himself. Indeed, Luke seems to be the most grown up out of them all and we hope that he doesn't change too much when he hits the mainland.
I didn't think this was quite worth four stars. Although I cared enough about the characters to read on, I thought the incidents over the swinging parties were a little far-fetched. It reminded me a little of Abigail's Party, which I covered in a previous review.
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