One day she was there . . .
and the next day, the day after the fire, she was gone.
In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, the Dover family move in next door, at once making Helen’s lonely world a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian Dovers, especially the petulant and charming Victoria. But the summer ends suddenly one tumultuous evening, and the next day Helen wakes up to discover that the family have simply disappeared.
What went wrong that summer’s evening? Why does Helen feel like something terrible happened, but she can’t remember what?
Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.
A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about young friendship, damaged families and how one simple action on a long, sultry summer can echo through the years. Perfect for fans of Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret and Helen Dunmore’s The Lie.
A special thanks to NetGalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a beautifully written coming-of-ages mystery story. It is very atmospheric, also very dark and it is becoming terrible sad at the end.
Helen is fifteen and she is not looking forward for her long lonely summer holiday. She lives with her father after the separation of her parents. Then a bohemian family moves in one of the nearby cottages. Helen meets first Pippa, one of the siblings, a girl who is all chatter and excitement. Will is her twin, and then there is the charismatic and good-looking Seth. And of course Victoria, about the same age as Helen. Helen is fascinated by this family, especially by Helen and Seth. She begins to spend every day with them. But as we follow them though their summer, with all the things they do, there is also always something subliminal. There is this mystery story about Helens Father. Why is Helens mother so absent minded, always away in her room, letting her children take care of her. What is it about Helens parents? All these things are there but nobody speaks about them.
We also met Helen 30 years later. Leading a quite life still influenced from that time and something terrible that happened in this summer. She sees a poster on the wall of an art gallery about a photographer. It is Victoria. After all these years Helen knows where she is. She is going to see this exhibition. But it is a bit later when she finally sees Victoria again.
Helen has no memory about what happened that last night she saw Helen and her family. Something bad happened. It even affects Helens father. And Helen carried those unsaid things and the non existing memory with her all the time. Her subconsciousness tells her that there is something she needs to remember, but she did not allow it for 30 years to come to the surface.
This is a very dark story. It is becoming so sad at the end. Helen and Victoria have both a very destructive personality. While Victoria is more destructive and offending to other people, Helen is quite the opposite. She keeps it all inside. She gets humiliated by Helen several times, but she takes it as it she deserves it. But when it comes to this fatal night, with drugs and alcohol, something bad reveals inside Helen.
This book is not an easy read. It is written very well and nicely, but, as I said before, very dark. I did not like Victoria very much. At the beginning I felt sorry for Helen. I could not understand, why she never asked anybody about this night. After 30 years she still does not know about what happened. I could hardly believe it. But at the end you know why. And you know why she is like she is to herself.
“Summer of Secrets” is an impressing, depressing and in many ways very good book