The Book of Summers is a must summer read!
When Beth was just nine years old, she and her father left their mother, Marika in Hungary and returned to England. Marika told Beth that Hungary was her home.Beth was devasted. However, Beth was able to visit her mother every summer.Beth and Marika looked forward to these summers. They shared laughes, love, and heartache. This changed when during one summer, Beth learned a secret that her mother had been keeping from her. A secret that tore them apart forever.
The Book of Summers is Mrs. Hall's debut novel. I have to say after reading this book, I can not wait to see what Mrs. Hall has in story next. This book read more like Mrs. Hall's third or fourth book then her first. I started this book last night and about an hour and a half later I was finished. The Book of Summers reads like an old friend/journal then just a book. The Book of Summers is a must summer read!
I found Marika to be the star of this story. Her hippy ways and carefree living made me smile. I like that she encouraged Beth to act like a kid which included getting in trouble. Beth grew as the summers pasted. She enjoyed life more when she was vising her mother in Hungary. This is what I liked the most about younger Beth. The older Beth had forgotten about life and was kind of bitter. When Marika's secret was revealed, I could understand on one hand why Beth acted the way she did but on the other hand, I thought she over reacted. Mrs. Hall make Hungary a magical place. A place that I want to visit now after reading this book.
Writing Family by Emylia Hall
A friend of mine recently told me that as she was reading The Book of Summers she couldn’t help picturing me as Beth Lowe, even though she knew she wasn’t supposed to. I guess this is because at first glance the novel appears more autobiographical than it really is. I grew up in Devon, with an English father and a Hungarian mother – as does Beth. And I often travelled to Hungary as a child – as does Beth. I was always conscious of these obvious parallels when writing.
Rarely do ideas fall from the sky - the impetus to write has to originate from somewhere and for me the triggers lay in my own past. But rather than feeling strait-jacketed by this I revelled in it; not only did I feel as though I was writing with authenticity, I enjoyed the aspect of time-travel the process gave me. I’m a nostalgic kind of person, and to be able to weave my precious memories into a fictitious story, to create something new from something old, was a real joy. While the emotional storyline is one of pure fiction, many of the settings, sights and colours of Hungary stem from personal experience, and the inspirations behind the characters do partly lie with my own family. The mild-mannered Englishman David and the fiery Hungarian Marika are, on balance, much-exaggerated versions of my own parents.
My mother has always felt a strong connection with the country of her roots, but when we were children she would never have deserted or uprooted us to go and live there. Likewise my father is of a mellow disposition, but he’s not weak-willed like David. I could say that their similarities begin and end at a very basic, roughly sketched level, however I’ll let you in on a few secrets.
Marika’s infectious enthusiasm for the start of a new day comes from my mother. I’ve never known anyone sing out ‘good morning’ with such obvious delight. And the same goes for her love of wild flowers and nature; the excited spotting of a frog in the lane, a zig-zagging dragonfly or a clutch of new primroses – I wrote this spirit into Marika too.
David and Erzsi share several tender, domesticated moments together, one of which, is the gathering of mushrooms. When I was small my father and I would occasionally get up early and go looking for mushrooms in the woods behind our house. Upon our return he’d cook them for us, served simply on toast. This stands out in my memory, because he rarely ventured into the kitchen otherwise, nor did we go for many walks in the dawn light. And there is also something of my father in Zolt·n too, the easy-going artist, with his paint-splashed apron and stained fingers.
To me these small details – of which there are many more - lie like buried treasure in the story, and invest it with a real depth of personal significance.
As to Beth, I’ve often wondered whether in the same situation and faced with upheaval and seeming betrayal, I would behave as she does. I understand and I sympathise with her, but I like to think my own response would perhaps be more measured; although, without being really tested, which of us can ever truly say?