Review: The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

The Blurb

One day she was there . . .

and the next day, the day after the fire, she was gone.

In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, the Dover family move in next door, at once making Helen’s lonely world a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian Dovers, especially the petulant and charming Victoria. But the summer ends suddenly one tumultuous evening, and the next day Helen wakes up to discover that the family have simply disappeared.

What went wrong that summer’s evening? Why does Helen feel like something terrible happened, but she can’t remember what?

Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.

A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about young friendship, damaged families and how one simple action on a long, sultry summer can echo through the years. Perfect for fans of Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret and Helen Dunmore’s The Lie.

The Review

The Summer of Secrets is a story about friendship and growing up; however, rather than focussing on the joyous moments the whole novel has a sinister edge.

Helen is a dowdy bored teenager who is spending her summer sunbathing alone in her back garden. Her world suddenly changes when the Dover family move into a house at the bottom of her road. She befriends Victoria Dover who I everything that Helen is not: lively, exuberant and a beacon for trouble. As their toxic friendship grows Helen becomes more and more influenced by Victoria and her wild ways.

So firstly, let me say that this is a very well written book. Sarah Jasmon’s debut ticks all the boxes for a mystery thriller and there are some genuinely shocking moments. Personally, I couldn’t warm to protagonist Helen. I found her behaviour towards Victoria cloying and desperate. I felt no sympathy towards her or her situation; if I am honest, this hindered by enjoyment of the book.

I do think that Jasmon created an amazing atmosphere of quiet country town and how the invasion of a loud brash family had a harsh impact on the idyll that their neighbours previously felt. Jasmon’s description of Victoria does come across as alluring and her aloof nature mixed with her manipulative sense of adventure makes her bounce off the page.

Whilst I did not like the character of Helen I do believe that The Summer of Secrets is a very well written book and one that can be read in one sitting.

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon is available now.

(Thank you to Ben Willis for sending me a physical copy of The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon).

The Summer of Secrets

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