My very grateful thanks to Gaby Young at Penguin Random House for an advanced reader copy of Carol Drinkwater’s The Forgotten Summer in exchange for an honest review. The Forgotten Summer was published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books, on 11th February 2016 in hardback and e-book. It will be released in paperback on September 8th 2016. The Forgotten Summer is available to purchase on Amazon UK and from all good bookshops.
The Forgotten Summer
Secrets ripen and fester over a long sweltering summer in France . . .
The annual grape harvest at the Cambon family’s magnificent vineyard is always a cause for celebration. But not this year. When an accident destroys the crop, leaving the estate facing ruin, Clarisse Cambon knows exactly who to blame – her daughter-in-law Jane.
It’s just the latest incident in a decades-long feud whose origin both women have concealed from Luc, who struggles to keep his wife and mother on speaking terms. But is Luc the saint he appears to be? When tragedy strikes, Jane is thrown into doubt. What secrets has her husband been keeping?
Forced to take charge of the ailing vineyard, Jane uncovers further proof that Luc may not be the man she fell in love with twenty years ago. And, worse still, she knows that her old enemy Clarisse is the only one who knows the truth . . .
My Review of The Forgotten Summer
Jane and her mother-in-law Clarisse Cambon do not get on, so that when Clarisse finds excuse to blame Jane for a poor grape harvest on the family estate in France, Jane’s husband Luc is unable to reconcile them. However, their lives are not going to remain separate for long as fate has a nasty habit of intervening.
I feel I owe Carol Drinkwater an apology. I picked up The Forgotten Summer believing I was about to read merely a fluffy, lightweight, love story. I did indeed get a love story, but one of great depth and resonance and of more than one kind of love. The Forgotten Summer is literary, well researched and hugely satisfying to read. It explores not just love, but searing grief, hatred, deceit, joy and despair providing a richness of experience for the reader.
The characters are human, three dimensional creations who are flawed and realistic so that at times I wanted to shake them in frustration and at others I wanted to hold them and comfort them. I thought about them when I wasn’t reading the book. I’m also left wanting to know more about them in the future and would love a sequel.
The plotting is tantalising and entertaining as Carol Drinkwater uncoveres suggestions and details that kept me wanting to read on. Just occasionally I would have liked a little less of the viticultural detail but there’s no denying these elements are impeccably well researched and presented.
The Forgotten Summer is wonderfully atmospheric writing. It’s the small details that really bring the narrative alive. Carol Drinkwater plays to all the reader senses, immersing readers in the sounds of jazz, with Nina Simone singing in the background for example, or evoking the taste of oozing Brie on fresh crusty loaves. I could so easily see the blossoms, olives and grapes and smell the lavender. Anyone who knows France would recognise instantly the scenes presented so beautifully.
I thought The Forgotten Summer was a wonderful read and am ashamed of my prejudice that has kept me away from Carol Drinkwater’s writing in the past. It is mature, engaging, emotional and atmospheric. I shall be seeking out her other fiction immediately.
About Carol Drinkwater
Anglo-Irish actress Carol Drinkwater is perhaps still most familiar to audiences for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. A popular and acclaimed author and film-maker as well, Carol has published nineteen books for both the adult and young adult markets. She is currently at work on her twentieth title.
When she purchased a rundown property overlooking the Bay of Cannes in France, she discovered on the grounds sixty-eight, 400-year-old olive trees. Once the land was reclaimed and the olives pressed, Carol along with her French husband, Michel, became the producers of top-quality olive oil. Her series of memoirs, love stories, recounting her experiences on her farm (The Olive Farm, The Olive Season, The Olive Harvest and Return to the Olive Farm) have become international bestsellers. Carol’s fascination with the olive tree extended to a seventeenth-month, solo Mediterranean journey in search of the tree’s mythical secrets. The resulting travel books, The Olive Route and The Olive Tree, have inspired a five-part documentary films series entitled The Olive Route.
Carol has also been invited to work with UNESCO to help fund an Olive Heritage Trail around the Mediterranean with the dual goals of creating peace in the region and honouring the ancient heritage of the olive tree.