How odd love is, thinks Kit. Like a virus attacking us when we’re low.
Plenty of memories swirl around this collection of friends, from love that never was, to unexplained disappearances and lonely guests that may step into a mess of mistakes. Old age seems like a disguise, so many of us think everything is finished past the first blush of youth. But there are dark troubling buried secrets for some, years of wear and tear, first loves that got away only to reappear when you feel so ridiculously worn down. Friendships are richer for their mileage, as with Mungo (retired actor, famous) and Kit, visiting him in the Devonshire countryside. Long ago Mungo was with Izzy (who is no longer living) but it was a cover. Izzy was involved with another man, Robert and though their history is dusty, what happened between them will play a vital role in this novel. For Kit, thespian Mungo will again direct, in a sense, by helping guide her to a rekindled flame for Jake, now a widower and free to love her. But is it too late for all that?
This is a bit like a summer breeze, with a hint of trouble. There is a farm owned by Mungo’s brother Archie. Archie and his wife Camilla are having trouble staying afloat, the threat of selling creates complications for others, due to a dark secret rooted deep in the past and the land. On this land too, are the renters- Emma with her family, her little boy Joe missing his father away serving with the AF as much as military wife Emma is lonely and hungry for affection and attention. Soon Marcus enters the scene, a surprise since he too is supposed to be serving elsewhere. Marcus is struggling with his own family problems, a separation. There is an attraction- both are yearning for different things, could it be so bad to have something for herself? What exactly are Marcus’s motives? It’s not as easy to seduce a woman with her children around. How does young Joe experience a budding forbidden relationship between his mother and another man? Will she go through with it? James is there to write, in quiet peace, without distraction. He just has to figure out how to write from a woman’s perspective, which apparently according to his wife, he is terrible at. He watches, he collects everything he sees, ideas percolate in his creative mind, and he uses his surroundings to write. What is the deal with the weird guy he keeps seeing around?
These are brief moments in the lives of all the characters. Some face difficult times financially, others are weighted down by guilt, some are there for escape but all come together to make a wonderful summer story. It is a quiet story without anything too wild, but I felt the confusion inside the hearts of the characters is something we can all relate to. Kit having a second life of sorts is something we should see more of in fiction. You still have a pulse as you age!
A nice read with the countryside as setting.
St. Martin’s Press
Thomas Dunne Books