Book Club: Summer Secrets

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Author: Jane Green
ISBN: 9781447258667

Jane Green is the bestselling author of seventeen novels, the latest of which is Summer Secrets. The only one of Green’s back catalogue I have read is The Patchwork Marriage back in 2012.

Summer Secrets is a tale of family, love, belonging, addiction and secrets. It is gritty and sometimes painful but it is a compelling read with a couple of interesting twists, and a couple of quite predictable turns.

I loved this book. I fell in love with Cat from the beginning. She was completely messed up but she was also highly relatable. I am sure there are going to be many women out there who relate to her, at least on some level. She drank and partied hard and refused to admit the problem, right from the beginning you could see there were times she recognised it but she never admitted it. Falling into a habit of drinking from such a young age can be quite detrimental and set you up for some long hard years, as Cat discovered for herself.

The timeline is a little bit jumpy, we first meet Cat in 2014 as she cleans out her cupboards to keep busy on an evening at home alone while her daughter is with her ex-husband. Chapter two sees us jump back to 1998 when Cat was a single lady in her late twenties living it up and doing her own thing. We then spend the book in these two timelines, with one jump even further back in time.

A while after the death of her father, at a regular Saturday morning get together, her mother reveals a long held secret that is going to rock Cat to her core and send us on a trip further into the past. I liked going back in time and seeing a different side of Cat’s mum but I think this element of the story could have done with some more exploration. We got a little bit of info and then jumped back to 1998. I would have loved to spend a little more time in 1969 and follow the summer with Audrey rather than be left in the dark.

This isn’t the only bit that is skimmed over that I would have loved to know more about, there is another period that I feel the same about but I think that says more about my natural curiosity than any importance to the story.

summer secrets

Green explores alcoholism in depth, the denial and then the journey to recovery. The link to genetics and the commitment required to recovery. It’s not something you can just get up one morning and decide. It is an insidious disease that creeps into every aspect of every day life and skews perspective. I particularly liked the emphasis Cat places on the why she was getting sober, she has come to that place where she realises when she was doing it for someone else and that it was destined to fail, that until she was doing this for herself she would never feel the hope of success.

Summer Secrets is told by Cat in her own voice, except for the chapters set in ’69 which are told in the third person. We see her life through her eyes, her acceptance of the life she lived; the pain, the humiliation and the heartsickness at the path of destruction she left in her wake. Green has also managed to entwine the effects on those who love an alcoholic from the children and partners to friends and families.

I think the other thing I did relate to is the knowing as a parent what you got up to as a young teen and having to watch your children get closer and closer to that age, to be determined to protect them from the mistakes you made and hoping that they will be different while still seeing them as so much younger than you felt at the same age. I know this is something that scares the pants off me right now.

Cat has finally learned to embrace a living recovery, to actively seek out her sobriety, and immerse herself in the twelve steps of AA. She has come to the crucial point where she has to make amends with the last two people on her list, the two she’s been putting off because of the magnitude, and she has to do it before she can move on.

Cue another summer holiday to Nantucket with the express purpose of making amends, now understanding that it’s not about gaining forgiveness but letting go. Nantucket has been crucial in many of the turning points of her life and the 2014 trip is no different.

Green has captured the ease at which a vulnerable teen can find themselves in trouble and all of the factors that play a part in this. It’s about working your way to a clearer insight to your life and it really is a fantastic read. In the two books I have read Green certainly doesn’t shy away from the tough topics and this book resonated within me.

I have really enjoyed my time with Summer Secrets and I look forward to hearing what our book club readers have to say about it.

Summer Secrets is available now through Pan McMillan and where all good books are sold.

Jane Green can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

17 thoughts on “Book Club: Summer Secrets

  1. Summer Secrets is such a compelling read, I found it hard to put his book down for even five minutes. I can totally relate to Cats issues having a sister-in-law and nephew who suffer from the dreadful disease – alcoholism. Even though I have faced these issues first hand, Cat on the other hand appears to be the sort of person that should and could defeat this insidious disease, if anyone can. She has so much support and guidance.

    The long held secret kept from Cat from her mother certainly rocked her world. It was devastating that her problem with drink and the subsequent affair ended up destroying her relationship with her new found sister.

    Eventually Cat learns to find recovery through AA meetings and to continue to actively seek out her sobriety. She has come to the point of making amends with the last two people on her list, the two she’s been putting off because of the magnitude of what she has done..

    I particularly loved how the author went into great depth to describe the beauty of the Nanntucket. countryside , she was so descriptive. I felt that I had been transported to this lovely place and truly felt the warmth of the people whilst embracing the relaxed county lifestyle.

    A great easy entertaining read. I will definitely be seeking out this author in the future and highly recommend it as must read.

    Thank Beauty and Lace for the opportunity.

  2. This was a really interesting book. The book was really easy to read and easy to understand.

    I found it really addictive when the story had switched between the two different times and the two different perspectives. I wanted to find out more about the two characters (mum and daughter). They are both so different and their personalities are interesting.

    I can’t say I relate to the characters. I don’t know anyone dealing with alcoholism, nor have I been inside any of their lives and their worlds. But it was really interesting to see it from a different perspective. It’s always good to get different perspectives.

    Overall, it was an interesting and easy read. I would recommend it to every one.

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to review. I have enjoyed reading Jane’s books for many years, so eagerly jumped in.

    Wow – such an amazing insight into the life of an alcoholic.
    A sensitive subject matter that was dealt with incredibly well. Sympathetic but still realistic. The main character has many struggles and I felt myself cringe at some points and willing her to do the right thing.

    Yes it might be considered light hearted summer reading but I felt it had a whole lot more substance than many of the “chic-lit” books out at the moment.

    I would absolutely recommend this book and look forward to Jane’s next book!

  4. “I loved this book and can’t rate it high enough.

    After reading the blurb for this book I was really hesitant to read it as who wants to read about a drunk girl finding out about her father. In a shop I would have put it back down. Thanks to Beauty and Lace for making me read it. I read about 3/4’s of the book in one day as I really struggled to put it down.

    Cat is a character that you fall in love with straight away. Her life is messed up while those around her are moving on and getting on with life in the ‘right’ kind of way.

    Cat’s drinking has lead to poor choices and finally a bad night drinking had in fact found her the perfect man. He just needs her to stay sober. She tries, oh she tries very hard many times but that little voice would always be pushed aside and alcohol would win.

    She finally gets the chance to meet her father and makes some discoveries along the way. Big mistakes are made but life moves on and lessons are learnt.

    The way Jane Green has taken on the telling of a story about alcoholism is a big one but she has done it with a lot of understanding and love.

    I will not tell anymore of the story instead tell you that you must put this book on your reading list.

    It is a wonderful, touching story about love, family, trust, alcohol, mistakes, endings and new beginnings. It’s a story that will touch you in more ways than one.”

  5. I love this author and I was excited to get hold of this book for review.

    I felt for Cat as she was an alcoholic and glad that she met Jason who was successful and attractive as well. When she went to AA, I thought that she would be able to address her alcoholism but it felt like she wasn’t really doing it for herself. When she went to Nantucket, I felt more connected with the character and thought she would be able to turn her life around. I wondered if Audrey would have been able to handle the situation better. The setting in Nantucket made me really engrossed in this story and I sped through this book easily. It was a great read and I’m now upset that I finished the book.

  6. I absolutely loved this book. It took me longer to read it than I would have liked though (had nothing to do with the book and more because all of a sudden work got super busy). From page one I was hooked and wanted to know what it was about the character Cat that had everyone so intrigued.

    There were times in the story where I felt like I was reading about myself or a friend and than other times when I thought you can see the issue, just stop and think about what you are doing for a minute!

    As the timelines and locations changed, it made the story become more real and the connection between not only the characters but also me towards the book grew immensely.

    It was a shame the book had to end as I was enjoying the twisted life that made point of love, mistakes and second chances.

  7. Summer Secrets is definitely not a light read but I enjoyed the roller coaster ride the story took me on, from start to finish.
    It is a realistic portrayal of a woman who is an alcoholic. Gritty and brutally honest at times.
    I did not want to put this book down.

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