Wednesday 17 April 2019

Guest Review: Swallowtail Summer by Erica James

They thought they were friends for life - until one summer, everything changed . . . 

Linston End on the Norfolk Broads has been the holiday home to three families for many years. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together.

But widower Alastair has been faced with a few of life's surprises recently. Now, he is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made - and the changes it will mean for them all. For some, it feels like the end. For others, it might just be the beginning . . .

Review: I always look forward to a book by Erica James; her stories always have substance - the sort that you can really get your teeth into. This, her latest story, set in the picturesque Norfolk Broads, sounded right up my street. I settled down to read it with great anticipation. I have to admit that, unusually, I found the book a little heavy going at the beginning, where so many characters were introduced at once; I kept losing track of their relationships. However, I eventually became immersed in their world. 

This is a story of friendships and loyalties, centred on three men who have been the very best of friends from schooldays and their families. One of the trio, Alastair, owns a rather marvellous sounding house right by the water, where the families gather together every summer to enjoy a holiday of fun and relaxation on and off the water, sometimes searching for the elusive swallowtail butterfly. Since Alastair was widowed the previous year, this summer promises to be somewhat different. However, none of the others could have guessed exactly how different. Alastair has some shocking news for them all, which promises that things will never be the same again. This news triggers a reaction that reverberates through the group, affecting them all in turn.

I have to admit that this is not my favourite Erica James novel; it has the usual depth that I associate with her writing, but it did not fire my imagination to the usual extent. There was certainly never a dull moment, however. Alastair’s shock announcement had everyone considering what it meant for them and whether they should try to change his mind. All sorts of emotions were released, often leading to conflict within the group and testing the strong ties that existed between the friends. Quite a few skeletons came out of the cupboards as well. I certainly never knew where the story would lead next, and definitely could not have predicted how it would all end. I would still recommend this as an interesting book to read, but, to my mind, there are better Erica James books out there.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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