Author: Helen Walsh
Pages: 288 Pages
Publisher: Tinder Press
Sun. Desire. Obsession. An explosive, intelligent novel from the prize-winning author of Brass.
One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.
Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn’s stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan’s youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down.
Sultry, spare and brilliantly paced, THE LEMON GROVE is a meditation on female desire, the variations of marriage, and the politics of raising other people’s children. It is the work of a writer acutely alive to the complex workings of the human heart.
Jenn is stuck in a rut. Problem is she doesn’t know she is stuck in this rut until something comes along to make her reassess her life. That something is Nathan. Set in Deia, Mallorca, a family holiday becomes a bit of a nightmare for Jenn as she develops a crush on Nathan and tries to battle her burgeoning feelings.
The idyllic background is cleverly juxtaposed with the ongoing inner turmoil of protagonist Jenn, who seems completely disaffected with her seemingly perfect life. She has a loving husband, a stepdaughter she has raised as her own yet we see little nuances throughout the narrative which suggest the sparkling exterior hides deeper secrets. Jenn wants a child of her own but fears the window of opportunity has closed. She wants to be able to discipline or make decisions regarding her petulant stepdaughter, Emma, without having her decisions overridden by her husband; indeed she wants a consistent and healthy relationship with Emma; all of the things that she lacks.
However, rather than stating what she wants she acts out. She jeopardises her marriage and her relationship with Emma. Most importantly she develops inappropriate feelings for Emma’s 17 year old boyfriend, Nathan.
The Lemon Grove is an impressive look at the boredom and disaffected feelings one can develop when reaching middle age. You feel Jenn is unimpressed with her station in life; she feels she hasn’t achieved anything of worth. The bitter taste of lemons is almost symbolic to the bitterness that she feels towards her life.
Initially I was weary of reading this book. The protagonist and the storyline seemed so far away from my own life I worried I wouldn’t enjoy it or feel anything for it. However, this is the kind of story that sucks you in. You can’t help but empathise with Jenn, who essentially becomes the villain of the piece, and the sumptuous description of the villa just transports you so seamlessly that you feel like you are there with this family.
If you are looking for a story that you can forget about once it is over, then I am afraid this one isn’t for you. This is the story that will stick in your mind long after you have turned the final page.
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh is available for purchase now.
Visit Helen Walsh’s official website http://www.helen-walsh.co.uk for more information.