The Goodbye Summer (by Patricia Gaffney)

Patricia Gaffney is an American author, whom I had not heard of until I read - and enjoyed - her novel 'The Saving Graces' nearly a year ago. However, I remembered the name, so when I saw another of her books being sold inexpensively by a local library in the UK, I bought it at once.

'The Goodbye Summer' mainly features Caddie, a caring young woman whose mother died when she was only nine. She was brought up by Nana, her eccentric and artistic grandmother. Now Caddie is 32, and looking after the increasingly frail Nana.

When Nana breaks her leg, she insists on going to stay in a care home for the elderly, to recuperate. She also wants Caddie to have a life of her own, even though Caddie is basically quite content living with her.

Caddie is an unassuming music teacher, and finds it very difficult to break out of her rut; however, over the next couple of months, she makes a new close friend, and begins to fall in love. She also becomes very fond of the other residents in the care home.

Much of the story looks at the past, and the need to find healing and forgiveness for perceived hurts, neglect, or parents dying young. Caddie feels herself to be a child sometimes, yet with her students she is wise beyond her years. As she reaches out to others around her, she begins to come to terms with her own fears and hurts.

There are some sad moments, though none that actually moved me to tears. There's also a lot of warmth in this novel, which I read more-or-less straight through in one day.

I thought it was great holiday reading, with likeable people. Caddie in particular is very believable, and the book is all told from her point of view. Recommended, although it may be hard to find in the UK.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 14th July 2008

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