It seems like a very natural progression for an erstwhile writer of children’s stories to progress to the YA market. And that’s what Laura Wood has done. Although there’s plenty in this tale to appeal to readers of the OA market - OA? Older Adults. I found this a genre dipping fiction with it’s toes in historical fiction, romantic fiction, chick lit maybe. And apart from the history side of things not genres that always light me up. But this was an entertaining, undemanding, easy read.
Louise lives in small Cornish village with her parents and several siblings with a penchant for the written word. For some while she has trespassed in the house and grounds of the Cardew family, eating their apples and reading their books even lighting fires in their library! Undisturbed until the day the Cardew brother and sister, Caitlin and Robert, return to their Cornish home for the summer. What follows is a predictable yet charming story of adolescent hopes and dreams as Lou is caught up in a Gatsby type lifestyle of parties of indulgence, and intrigues. There’s no new ground covered here but something in the familiarity of the situations makes for an easy to visualise, comforting read. I was reminded briefly of Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge, any Kate Morton you care to name and other ‘big house’ stories of which there are plenty out there and this novel will hold its head high and takes its place alongside them.
The novel is inhabited with many well drawn and decent characters. There’s little, if any, unpleasantness in the book from anyone. There’s an attempt to colour Robert in less than rosy hues but that’s mostly from Lou’s perspective. There are flawed characters, quirky characters, stereotypical characters too but they all work.
The writing is natural and easy, well paced, all told in the first person from Lou’s perspective but for the most part I think the readers will reach the same conclusions that she does. And for adolescent girls - friends and siblings - who enjoy sharing their confidences, their hopes, their dreams this story will appeal greatly.
I always aver that I am not interested in book covers; I read the book not the cover but I was impressed by the simple elegance of this cover which the image on this blog doesn't do justice to! It’s a perfect summer read and if we are to pay homage to the Great Gatsby then I give it - the green light!