With Heidi Swain featuring here as often as she does you might be forgiven for thinking this is Heidi’s Book Bag, not Linda’s Book Bag, but as I so enjoy Heidi’s writing I won’t mind the name change! My thanks to Harriett Collins for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Heidi’s latest book, The Summer Fair. I’m delighted to share my review today.
Before I do so, however, here are the other posts you’ll find featuring Heidi:
My review of Underneath the Christmas Tree here.
My review of A Taste of Home here.
My review of The Winter Garden here.
My review of The Secret Seaside Escape here.
My review of Poppy’s Recipe for Life here.
My review of Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market here.
A ‘staying in’ post with Heidi to chat all about Sunshine and Sweet Peas In Nightingale Square here.
A guest post from Heidi to celebrate Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland, explaining exactly what Christmas means to her here.
Published on 12th May 2022 by Simon and Schuster, The Summer Fair is available for purchase through the links here.
The Summer Fair
Join Sunday Times bestseller Heidi Swain back in Nightingale Square for a sunshine and celebration filled summer…
Beth loves her job working in a care home, looking after its elderly residents, but she doesn’t love the cramped and dirty house-share she currently lives in. So, when she gets the opportunity to move to Nightingale Square, sharing a house with the lovely Eli, she jumps at the chance.
The community at Nightingale Square welcomes Beth with open arms, and when she needs help to organise a fundraiser for the care home they rally round. Then she discovers The Arches, a local creative arts centre, has closed and the venture to replace it needs their help too – but this opens old wounds and past secrets for Beth.
Music was always an important part of her life, but now she has closed the door on all that. Will her friends at the care home and the people of Nightingale Square help her find a way to learn to love it once more…?
My Review of The Summer Fair
Beth needs a fresh start.
Heidi Swain has done it again! The Summer Fair is filled to the brim with love, community and belonging in all their forms so that it’s a book to soothe the soul and gladden the heart.
It doesn’t matter whether a reader has met some of the characters in Nightingale Square before, or is encountering them for the first time, as this lovely, lovely story works beautifully either way. I loved being reminded of those like Harold whom I’ve met before, but equally it felt wonderful to discover new folk like Beth and Eli.
The story bubbles along with events that illustrate how we are very often our own worst enemies. Of course there will be a happy ending – this IS Heidi Swain – but the journey to that ending is a real delight to read. There’s humour, frustration and a depth of emotion I found extremely effective.
Beth works so well as a character because she is highly relatable. She’s by no means perfect and can be occasionally sharp or unkind, so that when she atones, the story becomes all the more engaging. Her history illustrates just how we can let ourselves be shaped by events beyond our control, but Heidi Swain shows the reader, through Beth and the cast of the Edith Cavell Care Home, that we don’t have to tolerate the status quo and set our dreams aside regardless of our age. Indeed, one of the triumphs of this book is the older characters who are vivid, real and distinct so that they have true status in the story rather than being an adjunct to the narrative.
Both Eli and Pete feel authentic and true too so that I was desperate for them to be happy every bit as much as I wanted Beth to find her true role in life. What Heidi Swain does so brilliantly in her writing is to make the reader care about the people in her stories and The Summer Fair is no exception.
I adored the themes too. Whilst the narrative of The Summer Fair is uplifting in its own right, music, crafts, gardening, animals and friendship are presented as effective reminders that our mental health can be improved in simple ways. Equally important is the understanding that we deserve a life after those we love are no longer with us and that to find happiness and use our talents is not a betrayal. I can imagine readers being helped emotionally as well as being royally entertained by The Summer Fair.
If, to quote a certain playwright, music be the food of love, then Heidi Swain has given us a banquet in The Summer Fair. I loved it.
About Heidi Swain
Heidi lives in beautiful Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm. She is passionate about gardening, the countryside, collecting vintage paraphernalia and reading. Her TBR pile is always out of control!
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