Wednesday 10 July 2024

Guest Review: The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan

A summer escape

When Cecilia Lapthorne’s 75th birthday celebrations take an unexpected turn, she seeks solace away from the festivities and escapes to Dune Cottage – without telling her family where she’s going.

A new friendship

Lily Thomas, a struggling artist, has secretly been staying in the unoccupied cottage. When Cecilia discovers Lily during a late-night visit, an unexpected bond forms between the two women.

A chance to start over

Then Cecilia’s grandson, Todd – and Lily’s unrequited crush – shows up, sending a shockwave through their unlikely friendship. Will it inspire Lily to find the courage to live the life she wants? Can Cecilia finally let go of the past to find a new future? Because as surely as the tide erases past footprints, this summer is offering both Cecilia and Lily the chance to swap old dreams for new …

Review: I loved the sound of this new novel from Sarah Morgan, one of my favourite writers. A summer in a cottage by the sea would be just the antidote for this wet spring we are having. Sarah’s books always promise a well-rounded story with a range of emotions; this one did not let me down.

This story focuses on the lives of three women: 75-year-old Cecilia; her daughter Kristen; and her granddaughter’s friend Lily. When Cecilia finds life is getting on top of her, she secretly flees her large Boston home on the day of the party that Kristen has arranged for her to stay in the small beach cottage on Cape Cod that none of the family knows about. Just wanting some time on her own, she is surprised to find that aspiring artist Lily has been staying in the cottage, not knowing that it is owned by her friend’s grandmother. Instead of throwing Lily out, Cecilia invites her to stay and the pair strike up a comfortable friendship. Eventually, Cecilia’s grandson, and Lily’s secret crush turns up to check on his grandmother, and the household becomes three. Meantime, Kristen, who is having her own problems and reflecting on her relationships with her absent mother and her husband, also turns up at the cottage. As the summer progresses, can these women find ways to change their lives and achieve happiness in the calm surroundings of the Cape.

I thought this was a wonderful story, one which I read really quickly, so immersed in the lives of its characters did I become. There are so many messages for the reader, with these three women from different generations sorting through the problems in their lives and confronting perceived mistakes. It is a story filled with secrets, but also dealing with so many aspects of life including the effects of grief and misunderstandings, and making choices for the future. I liked the way in which the book was arranged, with each of the women taking turns to tell the story from their point of view. The characters were really likeable, although only when I learned a little of her background did I warm to Kristen. I would definitely have jumped at the chance to live in the cottage by the sea; it sounded perfectly idyllic, if a little larger than what I would class a cottage. Once more, a winner from Sarah Morgan and one I can highly recommend.

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