Summer at the Lake (by Erica James)

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Erica James’ novels, so am always pleased when I hear that a new one has been published. I put this on my wishlist as soon as I discovered that it was available, and was delighted to be given it last Christmas.

‘Summer at the Lake’ is about three very different people. Floriana is a young woman who’s a bit of an eccentric. She lives in Oxford and earns her living by giving tours, some of them quite specialist. Adam is a wealthy property developer who’s just broken up from his long-term girlfriend. Esme is an elderly lady who likes to be alone with her cat, but is sometimes quite lonely.

They meet by chance, when Floriana is involved in a road accident, which she blames on an unexpected wedding invitation she’s just received in the post, from her best friend and the love of her life.

It’s a character-based book, so the plot moves quite slowly as we get to know these three delightful people, who are themselves getting to know each other. I like it when a book is about an unusual, quirky person, and there are two of them; Esme, in her way, is as independent and unusual as Floriana. Adam is a predictably nice hero although, it being a modern novel, I didn’t guess until near the end whether or not he and Floriana were going to get together romantically.

Gradually we learn about Esme’s past, as her new friends talk to her about the paintings on her wall. Her father was an artist, and they spent a summer in Italy which she reminisces about. Then they discover that the wedding which Floriana is invited to is going to be in the same place in Italy…

By the time I was about half way through, I was completely hooked. It’s not that there’s any great excitement or tension, but all three of the main characters had got under my skin; Erica James has quite a gift of bringing people to life, and I felt as if these were my friends. There were other people in the book too, of course, but they were all more two-dimensional, and none of them were particularly memorable.

Some of Esme’s eventual revelations were poignant and moving, and there are some wonderful scenes towards the end of the book, as she finds a new lease of life in an unexpected way.

There were a few minor proofing errors that I felt should have been caught before publication, but I tend to find that kind of thing mildly amusing rather than irritating, and they didn't detract at all from the story.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Available in hardback, paperback or Kindle form.

Review copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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