This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
By the time Floriana realised she was in love with her best friend Seb, it was too late. He had found the glamorous and prosperous Imogen who changed his life, whisking him away from Floriana in the process. After two years of adjusting to life without him, Floriana is shaken when a wedding invitation arrives asking her to watch the only man she has ever loved marry a woman she detests. With her head in a spin, she doesn’t even see the car coming. But if she had, Esme, the proud old lady with a fascinating past, and Adam, a handsome local property developer, wouldn’t have become part of her life.
Far from being clichéd, each character in Summer at the Lake is unpredictable and easy to empathise with. Each engaging character is also struggling to deal with their own heartache and regrets alone until Floriana is hit by the car. Esme and Adam bravely rush to her aid, subsequently keeping in touch after realising she has nobody else within visiting distance. A mutually beneficial friendship is born. The characters' histories are revealed as their relationships develop. Esme is by far the most intriguing, with a romantically tragic past taking place in Lake Como during the 1950s. Esme’s story is something of a ‘coming of age’ tale and could be a novel in its own right. There are family troubles, tangles with the Italian Mafia and a forbidden romance with heart-breaking consequences.This isn’t to say I didn’t appreciate the sparkle and modern twist on romance brought to the novel by both Floriana and Adam. All of the characters learn so much from one another. They are integral to the path the novel takes, which is inevitably all the way back to Lake Como where Esme is on a journey to rediscover the past and find a way to put it behind her. Floriana needs to fathom her true feelings for Seb and find a way to move on – either with or without his friendship. Adam, going to support his two new and most precious friends, soon realises that Italy holds a special fate for him also.
Another element of this novel that I absolutely loved was the presence of a good, old-fashioned villain – something much of modern women’s literature lacks. I would like to say more, but I refuse to even reveal a name for fear of spoiling the build-up as to just how dastardly the villain is!
This is an absolutely enchanting read, with all the facets for a perfect, bittersweet journey. The description of Italy is so vivid and full of life, I could envision a young Esme as she dealt with the difficult process of becoming a sophisticated woman. At just under 600 pages, this book is worth every penny!
A heart-warming story of the importance of friendship, happiness and second chances in love.