Many, many years ago – well, twenty actually – I read Judy Astley’s Just For The Summer and knew I’d found a writer I could love. I’ve dipped in and out of her books since then, always thoroughly enjoying them, with their real characters, families you can believe in, situations you can identify with (and cringe over) and wonderful humour. For anyone who remembers the very first, her latest – due for publication on 4th July 2013 by Random House UK, Bantam Press – is both an undiluted joy and a wonderful trip down memory lane. Because here are the original characters – Clare and Eliott, Miranda and Jess, Steve and Andrew – twenty years on, and back in Cornwall.
The focus of the book is Miranda – everyone will surely remember “Miranda, age sixteen and never been more than kissed was getting pregnant on the beach…”? She’s now a successful business woman, her designs seen everywhere on crockery and soft furnishings, on the verge of signing a life-changing contract. She’s also a slightly lonely divorced mother of two very real teenagers, Bo and Silva. Silva at thirteen is still young enough to enjoy feeding fish to seals and playing with an inflatable crocodile in the pool, but on the threshold of adulthood with her interest in young surfer Jules. Bo is another typical teenager, monosyllabic and uncommunicative – until he discovers Jess’ daughter Lola – and I loved the descriptions of him disappearing into his hoodie in frequent embarrassment. Miranda’s mother Clare is recently widowed – her feelings are still raw, and the purpose of the trip to Cornwall is to finally do something with Jack’s ashes.
This is wonderful writing – all the characters breathe on the page, real people with real feelings, and the beautiful Cornwall setting is described in a way that could only be achieved by someone who loves and knows it well. It would be wrong of me to tell any more of the story, everyone should enjoy it as much as I have, whether it’s your first Judy Astley or just your latest. There’s really no need to have read Just For The Summer first – but do read it for the sheer pleasure anyway!
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this one, and recommend it to everyone who likes their summer reading well written, a little more grown up than some, that takes over your life for the time that you’re reading and leaves you with a lovely warm feel-good feeling and a real regret in leaving the characters behind.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for making this wonderful book available as an advance reading copy for my Kindle.
Read more about Judy Astley, her books and what inspired them on her website.