It’s Day 2 of the Blog Tour for Swallowtail Summer, the new book by Erica James, and I must admit that when I saw she had a new book out, it did bring back memories of good times spent in book clubs over the years, as typically, hers are the type of books favoured by book clubs the world over. This one will be no different and I think it’s thought-provoking as well as enjoyable – with a hint of something a bit darker (or maybe I just felt that because I’m older than I was when I read her earlier books) that I don’t remember her other books having.
I’ve always enjoyed Erica James’s books, and this one was no different, although I did find that it had a lot more of an edge than her others, and a bit more of an undercurrent of unease running through it. There’s this hint of the changes that are inevitable as one gets older and the shifts that are bound to occur in life, reminding us that we need to adequately prepare for them sooner, rather than later.
Alastair, Danny and Simon have been friends since their schooldays, and ever since they were young boys, they’ve spent their summer holidays at Linston End, the beautiful summer home in the Norfolk Broads, left to Alastair by a relative. Their summers have evolved from their youth, and for many years now they’ve spent time there with their wives and children – all the closest of friends. Alastair and his wife Orla (the couple were unfortunately childless) even chose to move there in recent years, until Orla passed away and then, unsurprisingly, things do begin to change as Alastair begins to take stock of his life and decides to call his friends together to share his decisions with them.
As everyone reacts to Alastair’s revelations, the cracks that have neatly been covered over throughout the years begin to show. Questions begin to arise: just how perfect were their golden friendships and all those flawless summers?
There’s a conversation starter here: as well as that age-old question of how well do we really know our friends, one can’t help wondering, do our friends love us for who we are or for what we have, and what we can offer? How long do we hold onto things for before we loosen our grip and let go? How set in our ways are we that we refuse to accept anything or anyone new or ‘other’? When we say we’re ‘open-minded’, are we really?
Erica James with her experienced pen (keyboard?) and skill at constructing storylines interwoven with complex issues has created a novel of depth and gravity that should not be disregarded as just another light-hearted, hollow narrative. Although it’s easy reading, there’s more to it than meets the eye. I give this 5 stars – for the reassurance that it gives that we although all of our journeys may be different, we often experience similar ‘bumps in the road’, and for the message that it sends not to take each other for granted, and to appreciate the bonds we create with the people we journey with.
Take a look at what these lovely bloggers are saying about Swallowtail Summer …