Oh yes! I have been in a bit of a rut in terms of my reading. Which is a shame, really. Especially given that I’ve spent a fortune on books in the last couple of weeks. So I’m sure my bank account will forever be grateful for Jenny Oliver and The Summer House By The Sea. It is the one book that has made me actually want to read the books that I’ve bought. Because it was absolutely amazing! Literally the perfect summer read and I could not put it down. You can ask my boyfriend. We got into quite the argument yesterday because I didn’t want to turn off the lights and stop reading. That’s how good it is!
Before I start rambling about all the bits and pieces that I adore in this book, let me give you a quick summary so you know what all the fuzz is about. The Summer House By The See tells the story of Ava and her brother Rory. They grew up in a dysfunctional yet very loving family and have both walked away with scars and their own ways of dealing with the difficulties of life. So when they are thrown together at their late grandmother’s summerhouse (they can’t decide whether it should be one word and neither can I), they re-discover each other and themselves in altogether new ways. In an attempt to distract themselves from life’s problems, they throw all their energy into re-building café Estrella that once was the place of drunken summer nights, spent dancing and laughing. What they don’t know is that by restoring the café to its old glory, they are also restoring themselves and finding their way back to who they really are.
I wrote that little summary about three times and I still don’t think that it does the book any justice. There is so much goodness going on in these 300 something pages and I’m finding it really hard to bring it all across without giving away the entire story line. So maybe you’ll just have to read the book for yourself and settle for all the things that I love about this book for now. I hope that’s okay with you. 🙂
Let’s get started then…
1. The Opening Scene
Don’t you all just love a book that doesn’t make a big fuss out of things and starts right in the middle of it all? Well, I do. And The Summer House By The Sea certainly delivered. Who doesn’t want to read a book that starts with the main character getting hit by a bus?! 🙂
2. The Main Characters
Oh how I love these two people. Ava and Rory are real, relatable, honest, flawed, witty, stubborn, opinionated and so many more things. After reading the book, I feel like I’ve known them all my life and like they are my long lost siblings and/or best friends.
3. The Sibling Relationship
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with three younger brothers and I know a thing or two about sibling relationships. I know how you can love and hate someone at the same time and about how you might not want to admit it, but you would do everything for your siblings. I know about trying to make the other person see your side of the story and sometimes forgetting that you should do the same for them. I know about midnight quarrels and sleepy movie nights. But most of all, I know all about how amazing it is to have siblings. That being said, I cannot put into words how much I love the relationship Ava and Rory have. They are constantly pulling and pushing each other into different directions and fighting over silly things because neither one will admit that they’re wrong. But when they work together and agree on things for once, magic happens.
4. The Overall Topic
You all know how contemporary women’s fiction (or chick lit if you must) can be superficial at times. And after picking up two books and not really enjoying them due to their superficiality, I am so pleased to be able to say that The Summer House By The Sea is nothing like that. It has substance all the way through. The characters are honest and insightful. They take you on their journey of re-discovery and show you what’s really important in life. I loved the bits where they tried to figure out why they handled things a certain way and how they always questioned their actions. I loved the fact that they went on a digital detox and started living again. I loved that they re-discovered the meaning of family and how family doesn’t always need to be blood-related. I just loved ALL of it.
5. The Writing
Let me tell you a thing or two about the writing, which could easily be summed up as absolutely brilliant. Jenny Oliver’s style captivates you and transports you right into the middle of the story. I really felt like I was in Spain, sipping sangrias and eating tapas at café Estrella. I could smell the churros and almost taste the delicious croissants. I was there when Ava met Tom and when they all watched Rory’s movie in the end. Reading the book was like watching a movie. That’s how good Jenny Oliver’s writing is.
6. Last but not least: The Guy
It wouldn’t be contemporary women’s fiction if there wasn’t a guy. Now, let me tell you straight away that Tom is in no way what makes this story worth reading and what makes the book as amazing as it is. He doesn’t do it any harm tough ;). Tom is this good-looking retired movie star out of Ava’s teenage dreams. She even had a pillow with his face on it. I’d say embarrassing, but I can’t really deny the fact that I was just like that when I was a teenager… So yeah… Putting all of that aside, Tom is down to earth with the exception of a few moments when he’s being an arrogant prick 🙂 He owns a vineyard up on a hill and takes Ava for a trip on his sailboat which ends with her vomiting over the side of his boat and running away. You’ll have to read about all of that yourself. I don’t really know what it is, but there’s something about Tom (maybe his humor?) that makes him utterly irresistible. I’m happily taken, but I still wouldn’t mind being swept off my feet by Tom.
So. These are just the first things that came to my mind when it comes to what I love about the book. There are a million more where they came from. Because what it all comes down to is this: I love the way this book made me feel. That’s it. 🙂
So if you’re at all interested in reading a book that will make you feel amazing and will take you away for a couple of hours, I recommend you go and pick up Jenny Oliver’s The Summer House By The Sea. Oh and tell me in the comments: would you write summerhouse or summer house? I can’t make up my mind!