Book Club: Summers With Juliette

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

Author: Emily Madden
ISBN: 9781743693117
RRP: $29.99

Debut author Emily Madden does more than just tug on the heartstrings in Summers with Juliette, there are moments I think she managed to rip it out and stomp on it.

Summers with Juliette is a beautiful story of small towns, friendship, missed chances, scandal, redemption and new beginnings. It is told from three different perspectives so the shift in point of view gives us an in-depth look into the characters and we get to know them in a way you simply couldn’t from anyone else’s perspective.

Juliette Cole is descended from the founding fathers of small town Ellesmere on the New South Wales coast not too far from Coffs Harbour. She inherited the local bookshop from her grandmother and has expanded it into a bookshop cafe, taking over the property next door. Juliette is the centrepiece of the story but we learn a lot about her friends and her town throughout the book.

Teenaged best friends make a pinkie swear on a coastal cliff at the end of a summer that if ever one of them was in need and called the three of them would be there for each other; almost 20 years later Juliette calls them back to Ellesmere to honour their promise.

Anna Kendall is also descended from the founding fathers of Ellesmere and she grew up in the town. Unfortunately a few years after the pinkie promise Anna’s father was caught up in a scandal that saw him disappear leaving Anna and her mother to be run out of town. Anna has never been back, and she never intended to. Juliette has needed her in the past and Anna always found a reason not to return; this time Juliette called in the promise and she has to go back.

Sera DiMaggio spent her summers in Ellesmere growing up, until the year of the scandal. She is an Australian soap star with a long running character on an iconic soap. She keeps her true self hidden behind her makeup armour. Sera has kept in touch with Juliette but not spoken to Anna in years. The call from Juliette sees her make arrangements for leave from the soap so she can be there for Juliette.

There is a lot going on in Summers with Juliette and it all tied in beautifully. Juliette called Anna and Sera home to spend one last summer with her before she loses her battle with ovarian cancer. Anna and Sera may not be on speaking terms anymore but they were once the best of friends and they soon realise that working together may be the only way to give Juliette the will to fight.

summers with juliette

I needed the tissues a few times throughout this one and my heart broke for Juliette. I have to admit it was not what I was expecting, there were times were I thought she would have a change of heart and get a happily ever after but she didn’t.

Juliette was the peacekeeper in the town and a brilliant mediator, as had always been the way with the Cole family, and her last summer with Anna and Sera was a touching demonstration of that as she brought the girls back together to rekindle their friendship and work through their past hurts.

The main story is Juliette, Anna and Sera but no story would be complete without at least a hint of romance; so there are men on the scene as well – gorgeous men of course. Mayor Patrick Shepherd who moved to Ellesmere from Coffs Harbour, Jack Harper the relative newcomer to town from Sydney and the elusive Noah.

Juliette is a caring and wonderful woman, loved by everyone in town but carrying more than her fair share of heartache. Anna and Sera are both carrying excess baggage that see them creating brick barriers around themselves so that no-one can get close, so that no-one can hurt them.

I loved Summers with Juliette, it was poignant and beautiful demonstrating the strength of the bonds of friendship. If you make a vow to your best friends that you will be there then you will be there. Anna worded the vow and then moved on to become a contractual lawyer but she had the most trouble returning to the town that shunned her and ran her out. She was worried about the reception she would receive, and it turns out she was right to be worried. The small town memory remembers the scandal and is prepared to shun her again.

I think the men being new additions to town, and the arrival of a few others, is a great illustrator of how welcoming the small town can be. Jack was embraced from the beginning and fast felt like he’d found home; okay he was still nicknamed cityslicker but it was done goodnaturedly. It is a sharp contrast to the treatment Anna recieves on her return.

If you love tales of the bonds of lifelong friendship read Summers with Juliette, you won’t regret it. It shows the importance of making the most of your time and your friends because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Summers with Juliette is book #70 for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2016.

Emily Madden can be found on her Website and Facebook.

Summers with Juliette is available through Harlequin, Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

20 of our lucky readers will be reading Summers with Juliette so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

23 thoughts on “Book Club: Summers With Juliette

  1. Sounds perfect, Michelle, especially after The Heart of the Sea, which I’m more than half way through! Love your description of it and a debut author too! Perfect!

  2. Summers With Juliette sounds a super book, and Juliette sounds a lovely person, it seems as though it would be sad but the friendships sound interesting. A good read I think.

  3. “Summers With Juliette,” by first time Australian author, Emily Madden is going to become one of my all time favourite books! I LOVED IT!!!!! Michelle has done a wonderful job of reviewing, as always, so I’m just going to give my overall impressions.

    It was pure genius the way the subject of cancer and death didn’t become morbid or depressing, but instead, uplifting. The beautiful way sadness was mixed with love, in all its forms and wonderful, lifelong friendships, is a tribute to an incredibly talented author. The way Emily Madden tugged at my heartstrings but over rode the sadness by the love everyone had for Juliette, and she for others, was beautifully handled. I loved the way all the relationships developed and the interaction of all the characters. The way the small town treated long term residents and ones new to the area was so true to life. The way beautiful people were thrown together with people we’d prefer to stay away from, was also wonderfully handled. There was not one part of the story I didn’t love.

    It is lovely to see the cover illustration as our copies are plain, being Advanced Reading Copies. The book will be released in January, 2016. I am incredibly pleased I was selected to review this beautiful book. I loved the way “Sometimes facing the past is the best way to face the future” from the cover, kept resonating throughout the story. There is no doubt that I will be thinking back to the wonderful relationships that formed throughout the story, the relationships that were fractured but managed to heal and the incredible effect the beauty of the writing had on me, for a long time to come.

    Thank you so much, Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read and treasure this beautiful book. I will definitely be looking for more from Emily Madden.

  4. “Summers With Juliette” is a moving novel. Sure, some aspects of it are a little clichéd, but Madden avoids the most obvious clichés and handles the rest with grace, so that in the end you feel that if you’ve seen it before, it’s only because life is, in fact, like that.

    Anna and Sera have returned to their childhood home (holiday home in Sera’s case) to support their friend Juliette as she dies. Naturally, it’s been years since either returned, and years since Anna and Sera spoke. Old hurts and enmities are quickly revived, and both find their adult successes overshadowed by their teenage failures.

    Madden avoids the maudlin tone which could easily ruin the novel, and avoids dwelling too much on the medical details of Juliette’s decline. That’s not what the novel is about, and helps to keep the focus on the emotional dramas.

    In some places the expression is a little awkward, which may betray the fact that Madden is a first time author. Although some of these are a little jarring, they don’t strongly impact on enjoyment of the novel. Apart from this, Madden has a very readable style that will engage most readers and keep them involved till the end of the novel.

    One thing that did trouble me a little about this novel is the way that women unquestioningly gave up their lives to be with their partners. Quitting jobs, or even careers, giving up fabulous opportunities, moving house…and no-one even discussed whether it should be the “hims” or the “hers” that made these sacrifices. I was a little uncomfortable with this.

    There aren’t any big surprises here. Madden telegraphs many of the resolutions very early in the novel. Still, Sera and Anna’s tales are entertainingly told and convincing. Juliette’s story strand is deeply moving and produces the most unexpected moments. I enjoyed reading this, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

  5. Summers with Juliette is a beautifuly written book Emily Madden has excelled with this book the friendship of the three girls is amazing they all came together for Juliette in her time of need and both the friends found love and happiness as did Juliette with Noah even for just a short time she was happy was sad she passed away I thought her doctors might have found a new miracle drug but no this book is one I would highly recommend was a pleasure to read

  6. I have just finished reading my advance reading copy of Summers With Juliette, and I must say that I’m a little sad that it’s over!
    This book really touched me; especially as I have lost a relative within the last year to cancer.
    But what I loved about this story was that the focus was on love and life, not on illness and death.
    The female characters are all great in their own ways, and I liked the male characters too. Jack was my favourite male character; Sera my favourite female.
    The story delves in to the past on more than one occasion but ties in beautifully and flows nicely with the present story.
    I wouldn’t have guessed that this was Emily Madden’s debut novel. It was very well written.
    I’d recommend this story to those looking for an uplifting and entertaining book with romance and sadness added to the mix.
    I really enjoyed this book and look forward to readingore of Emily’s work in the future.

  7. Wow – thank you for such a wonderful response! I am really humbled. I loved writing Summers With Juliette and while I loved each and every character – Sera and Patrick were my favourite 🙂

  8. Wow, Wow, Wow. Australia, we have an exciting new voice in Australian Women’s Fiction. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review. Emily Madden is a debut novelist which did surprise me after I read this book, as the character development, plot, and sub-plots of this book show maturity beyond a first time writer.

    The story centres on Juliette, who is dying, she calls upon her two best childhood friends to make good their “pinky swear” and return home to help her. Sera and Anna have not spoken since family circumstances drove them apart, but they both come back to help Juliette, despite having demanding lives of their own.

    Yes, there is romance, there is sadness, there is humour, but overall there is a great story that will appeal to readers of Womens Fiction or Life Lit as another popular author describes.

    Please do yourself a favour and read this book, you won’t be sorry!!

  9. This is such a beautiful, inspiring novel about long friendships that start from younger days and follow you throughout your life.

    The book follows Juliette, and her cherished best friends of Anna and Sera. Although the story is about Juliette, there are chapters about Anna and Sera and how they have become friends and where their lives took them before Juliette sends out the message, that she needs them back at Ellesmere where they all grew up.

    I loved the witty bantering of Sera and the Mayor that actually starts on the plane and the following of their relationship is just beautiful. I found myself giggling a lot throughout the book.

    I always know when I am reading a book that I really love because I can visualise the character’s faces, locations and sounds. We do know that Juliette is fighting cancer for the second time and it was lovely following her journey but definitely tears towards the end. If you are an emotional reader, then have some tissues on the ready.

    I loved this book and it will forever be a treasure to have read. I really loved Emily Madden’s style of writing. It’s beautifully written and I look forward to reading more from Emily. Yay for another Australian author to be added to the already grand list.

    Although the cover is different to the release of the actual book in January as it is an advanced reading copy, I feel that the cover is exceptional for what the book is about and for the characters that are entwined in the story.

    I can thoroughly recommend reading this book – it truly is such a beautiful read that you won’t be able to put down from the first chapter to the last.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for again giving me such a wonderful book to read from another great Australian author.

  10. Thank you so much for the advanced copy to read and review of Summers With Juliette. I lost my Mum to Cancer and thought it would be a bit hard to read considering Juliette was terminal with Ovarian cancer even though it was a different one to my Mum’s.
    It was a bittersweet journey for Juliette and her childhood friends and her new friends.
    I laughed and cried a few times while reading this and was hoping so much that Juliette went into remission again or a cure was found (even though I know this isn’t true-but with fiction we can only hope).
    Anna and Sera’s stories tie in so well with Juliette’s and the small town of Ellesmere. Small towns are extreme in the way they hold grudges and the contradiction in the way they treat others. Perfect example is the way the ‘new lawyer’ is welcomed but still is called ‘Cityslicker’.
    Juliette walks away from her love and happiness with Noah believing she is doing the right thing. How wrong she was but thanks to her two stubborn friends they track him down and bring the two lovers back together. It nearly was too late and they only have a short time together. This was so heartbreaking to read.
    The romances that blossom and the trials both Anna and Sera go through to get their happy endings are well written and shows the tough exteriors that some people build around themselves. I am happy that Sera finally lets herself be honest with herself and her Mayor and Anna realises that history may not repeat itself and to take the risk for her own happiness.
    This was a lovely book to read and I wanted to read it in one sitting but forced myself to put it down so I could cherish the whole book.
    I certainly will recommend this to others to read.
    It is nice also to see what the Cover Illustration will be when it is released.
    For a first time Author, Emily Madden will certainly have collected followers for any future writings.
    I know I am one.

  11. Exceptional book congrats to Emily Madden.A book that told of sadness laughter hope & forgiveness.I had a few close moments in this book as my Mother died of Ovarian cancer but this story was told in such a beautiful way & taught many of us that true friendship lasts forever.There were tissue moments but also moments of laughter & great enjoyment for such a wonderful story.Once again congratulations to Emily I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this book.

  12. I loved Summers With Juliette. A great book to start the summer hols with. I loved the three intertwining storylines and the way Emily Madden brought the three friends back together even though it was for a sad and serious cause. I found Julliette’s story moving . Her fight with the dreaded ‘C’ brought back many memories of my own mother’s fight with cancer. She was diagnosed as stage four and terminal. Needless to say the tears were flowing.
    Julliette is such a strong woman who through her illness not only manages to bring her childhood friends back to town but manages to get them to reconcile.
    Each of the girls , Anna, Sera and Julliette, have their own issues, baggage to deal with but they are able to do this by the end of he novel and move on with their lives.
    I loved the romance and the humour, especially the ‘Kardashian’ like names of all Noah’S family members.
    For a debut novel, this is great! Congratulations to Emily Madden ! Definitely an enjoyable read that I will recommend to others.

  13. I REALLY enjoyed Summers with Juliette.

    A beautifully written story about friendship, love and hard times.
    Three childhood friends that reconnect to help Juliette when she has a cancer relapse. Not a lighthearted novel by any stretch of the imagination, but a really worthwhile read.

    Interesting characters that engage make this a real page turner. I found it an emotional read and had leaky eyes on more than one occasion.

    Overall this book made me think about my own mortality and an overwhelming personal desire to try and make the very best of my own life. Pretty powerful stuff.

    I would absolutely recommend this book – I read it in two sittings and ended up with two days worth of reading hangovers.. but it was absolutely worth it.

    Best novel I have read in some time. x

  14. We seem to be having a little issue with some of our readers posting their reviews so today I am posting a review for Marisa Ranson.

    Thank you for the opportunity to read Summers with Juliette by Emily Madden a debut author. It was great to receive a book for advance reading before it’s released and to then see what the cover will look like.
    What an inspiring story of Juliette and her long-time friends Sera and Anna. Set in the township of Ellesmere where people all know all the towns folk and what may or may not of happened in their lives at present and in the past. When the girls were growing up they made a Pinkie swear that should they ever need they could call on each other at any time no matter what might happen in their lives. With Juliette been terminally ill she calls her friends and asks them to come back to Ellesmere and be with her for the summer as she dies. Sera and Anna have not spoken for many years but banter together to give Juliette her wishes. Once in Ellesmere they go through some highs and lows but always rally together for Juliette.
    The cover wording “Sometimes facing the past is the best way to face the future” is true of all the friends as they face up to some of the things in their lives that they did not wish to including friendships and relationships as we never really know what tomorrow holds for each and every one of us.
    The ending was not quite as I had expected as I thought all would end happily ever after. The story for me was very moving, sad and kept me thinking as to what may happen next in their lives.
    I look forward to reading more novels by the same author and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Summers with Juliette it to anyone.

  15. Summers With Juliette is a beautiful moving story of three friends reunited for a short time.
    Juliette has cancer and has called her 2 best friends to come home to the country town where their friendship began. All those years ago Anna, Sera and Juliette made a pinkie promise to be there if any of them needed the others no matter why, no matter where, no matter when.
    Summers With Juliette is a story written from the point of view of each of the three girls the story goes back and forth between them.
    Because of their pasts each of the girls have built up walls and none are ready to let a man in.
    This novel is carefully written in a way that each of the girls has their own story to follow yet they are all intwined and interwoven wonderfully well.
    The story of Anna and cancer is written with much grace and tenderness.
    I really loved this novel it had me laughing and crying and throughout I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is a heavy story that is made light and tender.
    Thank you for letting me read this wonderful novel.

  16. Summers with Juliette was just a lovely read.
    Two years ago around this time of year I lost my Mother to cancer and so I felt an instant connection with Juliette who was facing the cancer battle and her friends Sera and Anna who as Juliettes friends had to deal with the fear of losing a loved one.
    This was not a book of doom and gloom though. The storyline takes you on a journey that shows that each day is a gift and that day should be lived.
    This book grabs you and draws you in so that you become emotionally invested and you want things to work out in the budding love relationships between Juliette and the guy she meets while undergoing cancer treatment and Anna and the guy she meets on the plane and then goes on to find he is not only the mayor of the town but he also lives in her old house.
    This story is set in a small town and so there is also the small town relationships where everyone has a story and their knowledge of the past and they all form opinions of others and their relationships.

    I really loved this book and carried it with me so any spare moment I could give it a read. It was funny as I was reading it in Airport arrivals lounges and Doctors waiting rooms. Seemed rather fitting with the book at times.

    This is a wonderful summer read that grabs you straight away and even when you have finished reading you will still give thought to the characters.

  17. I enjoyed reading this book and finding out how the different relationships developed and gradually discovering things which had happened to each of the characters in the past which played a part in making them the people they had become. Even though it is written from the point of view of the three main female characters, each chapter seemed to flow into the next and it was very easy to just keep on reading.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this intriguing book. I did not really expect to cry while reading this book but I found myself absolutely balling my eye’s out as the story neared its end. I definitely think being a mother has made me more emotional but truly this book will bring out emotions from the depths of your soul.

    Juliette is terminally ill and calling on a promise made long ago with and her friends.
    “Anna” and “Sera” made this promise with Juliette almost twenty years ago and the two friends return to the beautiful coastal town that holds memories of a haunted past to help Juliette.

    Summers with Juliette is no ordinary read, it will take you on an emotional ride you won’t forget. This book truly makes you stop and think at times throughout the whole book.
    Summers with Juliette gives more than just a brilliant story but can also give life advice in a wonderful story that incorporates female friendship that is so special and important to women. My advice is to have a box of tissues next to you while reading Summers with Juliette by Emily Madden.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace for the great opportunity to read this beautiful book that will stay with me in my heart forever.

  19. wow, This is the best book I have read in a while and one that can be reread. I can’t believe how many emotions I went through reading Summers with Juliette, I actually groaned whenever I had to put it down. It’s definitely a page turner that pulls at your heart strings and beautifully written. The journey of 3 childhood friends that starts with a pinky swear and ends with a wonderful story of friendship, love, loyalty and a box of tissues. Thank you beauty and lace and Emily Madden for the opportunity to read Summers with Juliette, I absolutely loved it.

  20. I was really inspired by this book. I came from a small country town myself and the way country life is described in this book is true to form. The simplicity of life masks the deep and profound relationships that build from the simplest of desires. Simply to be there for one another.

    The bond that held the three friends together through all that occurred spoke to me on so many levels of friendships that I once had and had let slide, well until I read this book.

    It was wonderful to see how well the characters of the country town were written and I felt connected not only to the main characters but to the whole community with all its idiosyncrasy.

    This is clearly an unforgettable book for me and one which I found challenging to put down. Despite the fact that this is a story about friendship, hard times and cancer it wasn’t depressing but spoke to me of life and choices and of friendship.

    I highly recommend this book but have chocolate and a box of tissues with you when you read it!

  21. I was lucky enough to receive the copy of this wonderful book to read and review. First of all I loved the subject of three friends willing to do anything to make one of them happy and safe. This book is a very interesting read and you get attached to each and every character and feels like you are actually in their lives.
    It has a sad end but life is like that too sometimes happy, sometimes sad.
    I highly recommend this book to everyone.

  22. Thanks to Beauty & Lace for the chance to read a wonderful book called “Summer of Juliette” by author, Emily Madden. I haven’t heard of this author before ,as this is her debut novel, so was interested to see what the storyline and writing was like.
    Summers of Juliette centers around the lives of three women, three friends that have been through a lot in their lives and have gone their separate ways. Juliette, Anna and Sera are best friends who pinky swear one day, as teens, that if anything ever happened, they would be there for one another, no matter what. And now Juliette has terminal cancer, she calls in this promise they made years ago, although she hasn’t spoken to Anna or Sera for a long time.
    I knew that reading this would have an affect on me, as I actually do have a school friend who is dying from cancer right now. Bowel Cancer and even though we hadn’t spoken in a long time, I, along with others from back in our day, are there trying our hardest to support our friend as she has her treatments and changes her entire life to fight as hard as she can against this big bully – cancer.
    I was surprised about the emotional rollercoaster this story took me on…I knew I’d cry, but I also had moments of breaking out in laughter, feeling overwhelmed, surprised, sad and heart-warmingly happy where my heart actually felt warm & fuzzy. I absolutely love the powerful friendship that shines from this story and it reminds me of how I felt watching Thelma & Louise…proud to be a woman and feeling blessed in life that I have experienced this type of powerful friendship for myself.
    I am so glad that I got to read this and I am amazed at how well Emily Madden writes, her words flow and her use of Aussie slang works perfectly. I love reading books by Australian authors, when they talk about Australian towns and places, like in this book, the coastal town of Ellesmere, is similar to the small coastal area I live, everyone knows everyone, the scenery is stunning. I found this story so easy to digest and so relatable. The characters came to life on the pages and I quickly fell in love and wanted to know more about everyone.
    I would recommend “Summers Of Juliette” to anyone who loves reading and loves a book they can’t put down. I do suggest you read this with a box of tissues as you will need them, although the story is so much more than just a sad one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *