Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crossing the Pond to London with Jane Green and "Summer Secrets"

The first scene that stood out for me when reading Summer Secrets was the scene when our protagonist, Catherine Coombs, better known as Cat, encounters a partially full bottle of vodka in her kitchen cupboards. She is instantly swept away in a tidal wave of memories- memories of her old life, as well as memories about the things that she encountered on the way to rock bottom.
In 1998 Cat was single, working as a journalist, and absolutely broke. She survived by hitting the PR events and eating the free food and hitting up the open bars. Night after night was spent drunkenly stumbling from one event to the next, often with no memory of the night before on the morning after. Cat figured that she was only going to be young once, so it wasn't that big a deal.

Fast forward to 2014 and Cat, having traveled down the long and treacherous path of alcohol addiction, is in recovery, and she has been for some time. Although she managed to lose her husband and almost lose her daughter, Cat is on the path towards lasting recovery. However there are two people that she needs to make amends to- her half sisters who are living in Nantucket. Cat needs to apologize for something that she did wrong many years ago, but will Cat be welcomed with open arms or will she be turned away?

Summer Secrets drew me in from the first page. Cat is a flawed character, but a sympathetic one nonetheless. She is finally coming to terms with the scope of her addition and is making a lasting change. The reader can sense her sincerity, and we know that Cat is truly going to stay sober this time. Cat's story is told through a variety of flashbacks, which I appreciated. We don't just get to know Cat as a recovering alcoholic, but we get to see her in her past as a young woman, as well as a person with a very serious addiction. This helped us to understand her story.

I didn't enjoy Summer Secrets as much as some of Jane Green's previous books but I did enjoy it all the same! I had one small issue with the book which changed my rating from a five-star to a four-star. I felt that Cat's alcohol addiction was cliched at times. It felt like Green took every cliche about alcohol addiction and threw it all together to create Cat's problem. It didn't feel like there was anything truly unique about her situation. I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of alcohol addiction, I'm trying to do the exact opposite in fact. Cat's struggle seemed generic at times, and I kept waiting for something more personal to emerge. Having met alcoholics and recovering alcoholics in the past I know that their stories and journey's are more than just a generic collection of events.

Jane Green's writing in Summer Secrets is as eloquent as always, a treat for any reader of women's fiction to look forward to! Jane Green's stories have long been a must-read for me, and this one is no exception. It would make an excellent addition to your beach bag this summer as it's light but not saccharine sweet and I'm already looking forward to her future books! My thanks to the publisher as well as BookSparks PR for providing me with this review copy.