A gorgeous, warm and witty new novel from Fanny Blake.
Caro knows how to be a mother – advising her grown-up daughters on career and relationship worries. She knows how to be a grandmother – enjoying the hectic energy of her three-year-old grandson. She knows how to be a daughter – helping her aging mother retain her independence.
She thought she knew everything about being a wife, but when her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, everything is thrown in the air. So, when a chance meeting introduces her to Damir – younger, intriguing and attentive – she realises that opening up to a man so different from everyone else in her life, might also mean getting to know who she really is…
Our Summer Together is absolutely stunning and takes the reader on an emotional journey of understanding that turning sixty need not signal the end of fun, adventure and discovering love! Caro is almost non-descript when we first meet her. Having been a wife and mother for as long as she can remember, she has in many ways lost her sense of identify as a woman, as well as her path in life. Now living alone in a rambling house which was once full of family, her husband has left her after an affair and is now to be a father once again. Her two daughters are also trying to make their own way in life.
However, Caro is finding it difficult to forge a life for herself after spending so many years attending to everyone else’s needs. That is until a chance discovery on a train journey where she meets the younger Damir, and is encouraged to begin taking control of her own life. Yet, with this new sense of identity comes a wrath of emotions from those closet to her who feel frightened and slightly threatened by Caro’s new found confidence, and not all like it.
Our Summer Together is a beautiful and emotionally charged book which will, I believe, resonate with many middle aged women. Marriage and motherhood so often go hand in hand with losing a sense of identity. Even if we manage to keep our careers, the caring element for many of us usually means that by the time we realise it, we have given so much of ourselves to other people, that there is little to nothing left to give to ourselves. It’s no wonder that when children fly the nest, many couples realise their relationship has been left neglected and often beyond repair. However, for women such as Caro who find themselves abruptly left on their own in their sixties, I can only imagine how much more daunting this prospect is.
Fanny has handled Caro’s story practically but sensitively. There were many a time when I wanted to scream at Caro and tell her to stop doubting herself, taking control of her own time and indeed life, especially when the question of granny flats and becoming a childminder to her grandchildren reared its head! However, I understood that Caro wanted to please her children and I could see, albeit grudgingly, the reason behind the daughter’s requests on their mother’s time.
I feel this would be a wonderful story for daughters in particular. It is all too easy to see our parents and the older generation in a different light to how we live, but that doesn’t mean we should be allowed to take advantage or believe that our life means more than theirs. Fanny has shown, through the character of Caro, that whilst our parents may also be grandparents, they are not defined by these roles and have lives of their own as well.
Our Summer Together is a profound story and wonderfully written, with a main character who you can’t help but love from the very beginning of the story.
Thank you very much to the lovely people at Netgalley for allowing me to review this beautiful book.
Our Summer Together is out now to buy. Fanny can be found on Twitter @FannyBlake1 and at her website fannyblake.com