Thursday, 7 March 2013
Bringing the Summer - Julia Green
I saw this book a couple of times at the library but was never sure about it, it looks too frivolous and the whole love triangle, something my friend would define as typical teen literature. But for some reason, when I was at the library the other day, I picked this up because I was interested in what the outcome would be reading the blurb. To say the least, this was completely different from what I was expecting.
Synopsis: On returning from a summer at the beautiful island of St Allia where her brother died two years previously, the train Freya is on hits a young girl killing her instantly.
Soon, she is brought into contact with a handsome and friendly Gabe who comes with a family that Freya could only dream of having herself. She visits their rural house often and embarks on a friendship with Gabe. His older brother, Theo, starts showing an interest in Freya after their initial meeting. But he is different to Gabe - dark, moody and unpredictable - forcing Freya to make difficult choices about what she really wants.
Review: A few days before I started this book, I was watching an old episode of Heartbeat (it was this soap from the 1990's set in 1960's Yorkshire about this police station in Yorkshire). In the episode, this girl had been kidnapped. Until the last few minutes, I had no idea who the kidnapper was but it turned out to be his young guy who worked at the baker that one of the policemen had talked to earlier in the episode. The guy has been a little obsessed with this girl since they were 12 years-old and she sent him a Valentines Card, he thought she was in love with him like he was with her, and she was just waiting for the right moment to tell him. He took her to this derelict house and said it would be their house to live in forever and no-one would break them apart etc until the police found them. He was pretty obsessed with her.
I started this novel with the assumption from the blurb and cover that this would be the typical, easy beach read to calm me after Insurgent and before I started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The novel starts with Freya on the island taking one last swim before leaving her grandfather and his wife to go home before college starts. I was thinking 'Oh love triangle set at an English college, I can deal with this'. And for the most part, the novel is true to that as we're introduced to the host of characters and Gabe' family, wondering whether Gabe does like Freya in that way...all until Theo comes into the story. Theo was an unusual character, he is troubled to say the least having been close to the girl that killed herself, he is quiet and emotionless at times while also extremely passionate about things be it literature, a place or in this case, a person - and it's here my Heartbeat anecdote comes into play. Theo reminded me of the disillusioned, obsessed guy who desperately wanted this companionship despite what the female thought or the consequences and for that, I ended up disliking Theo because of how scary he becomes.
Despite my dislike for Theo, the rest of the cast of characters were well-written and engaging especially Gabe (although I still cringe at the name).
The only other book I've read by Julia Green was Drawing With Light which I thought was okay but the writing was a little rushed and predictable. In BRINGING THE SUMMER, the writing was so vivid and imaginative that I could imagine in my head Freya hiding in a bush when they play a game, the amazing Christmas dinner scene that portrays a heart-warming and traditional Christmas lunch that I wanted to join in with. I especially loved the scenes at the Fielding house with the descriptions of the nature around Freya, the homely, old feeling of the cottage and the way Green shows the house bursting with life and actions that comes across on the page. There are a whole host of characters but thankfully, it never got confusing.
The only thing I would say about the writing was that the relationships for me didn't feel realist, they were formed too fast for my liking especially with Theo. However, considering this is a short book, the relationships did become likable by the end but initially, they didn't seem genuine or real for me as a reader.
This is a good read and I did enjoy this book by the end. It took a while for the narrative to really get going and there were many times where I was like 'No don't do that Freya!' but I was left a little stunned by the ending. The book is powerful especially in highlighting the issue that isn't seen much in literature of obsession be it romantically or not. I had to read a book, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, last year for English about two guys that are involved in a ballooning accident and one of them becomes obsessed with the other, starts stalking him and threatening the guy's girlfriend (for the record, this would be the last book I would recommend to anyone, it's that bad) but the way obsession is shown is terribly scary but thrilling in a way. That is like BRINGING THE SUMMER where I was both annoyed and scared by Theo and the extent of which he could ruin Freya's formed life after the death of her brother. As I said earlier, this book deceives you to think it will be a light read, one of those pink and fluffy time books, but actually there is a dark and threatening undertone running throughout that dissolves way too quickly than I would have liked at the end.
This is a part sequel to Julia Green's Breathing Underwater but having not read that, I perfectly understood what was happening as I'm guessing what happened in that book is summarised throughout this one. So don't let that put you off this book. Although I sound negative, I did enjoy this book despite my surprise at finding this dark tone to the novel. It's a lovely book for amazing characters and a twisted plot line topped off with a wonderful protagonist.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.julia-green.co.uk/
Review: Drawing With Light by Julia Green